Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy new year and welcome to the 2022 legislative session. I'm excited to get back to doing the work of the people of the great state of Washington. I would much rather be in Olympia meeting with you and my fellow legislators in-person, but unfortunately, for the time being we will continue to operate for the most part remotely.
We kicked of this year's legislative session Monday, Jan. 10 and are scheduled to go for 60 days. There are so many important issues affecting our state, including emergency powers, public safety and refunding our police, and stopping the capital gains and long-term care income taxes, to name just a few.
House Republicans are committed to working on each of these issues, as well as many others, as we try to improve the lives of every Washingtonian.
Emergency Powers Reform Still Needed
One of the biggest complaints I've heard from constituents over the last 18 months is the need to limit the governor's emergency powers. We have been under one-person rule of law for nearly two years, with no end in sight. Our state was never meant to be run this way. House Republican have been calling for emergency power reform for months, and recently, some Democrats have warmed up to the idea that it's time for change. Both House and Senate Republicans have introduced bills this session to reform the state's emergency powers laws.
House Bill 1772 would increase legislative involvement in gubernatorial proclamations relating to a state of emergency; and
Senate Bill 5039 would subject all gubernatorial emergency orders to legislative approval after thirty days.
Additionally, last week, House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox sent a letter to Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins urging the passage of emergency powers reform and demanding that House Bill 1772 be heard in committee and brought to the House floor for a full vote. I stand by all of you who think this reform is long overdue. We will continue to pursue every avenue possible.
Fixing Police Reform Laws
Another huge issue throughout the state since last session, has been the confusing and unbalanced police reform laws that have made it difficult for our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and protect our communities. To that end, House and Senate Republicans have also introduced a package of bills that would improve many of the terrible consequences that these new laws have created. Here are some of the bills we will be pushing during this session to address House Bill 1310 and House Bill 1054:
- House Bill 1588– Restoring the authority of a peace officer to engage in a vehicular pursuit when there is reasonable suspicion a person has violated the law and the officer follows appropriate standards.
- House Bill 1589– Concerning the authority of peace officers to use physical force.
- House Bill 1634 – Clarifying the authority of law enforcement officers to acquire, possess, and use certain firearms and ammunition.
- Senate Bill 5569/House Bill 1737 – Concerning public safety (fixes to 1310, 1054).
We will be introducing additional legislation in the next few weeks that would fix other problems caused by these new laws, including bills that would:
- Allow vehicle pursuits where there is reasonable suspicion to believe a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a criminal offense.
- Establish a body worn camera grant program to be administered by Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs.
- And appropriations legislation authorizing hiring and retention bonuses for local and select state law enforcement agencies
Our communities need to be safe, and we need to protect our peace officers while they are protecting us. These bills will do that, in addition to repairing the damage caused by HB 1310 and HB 1054.
Making Public Safety a Priority
Public safety has been and always will be a priority to me and to all House Republicans. In fact, we've already secured our first win of the session in the House Public Safety Committee. My fellow committee members and I, were able to put a stop to an egregious piece of legislation, House Bill 1692, before it could even receive a hearing. This bill, known as the 'drive-by-shooting” bill, would have eliminated drive-by shooting as a basis for elevating murder in the first degree to aggravated murder in the first degree.
Given the fact that I spent my childhood growing up in gang-infested areas, I know how serious, dangerous, and debilitating such a crime is to these communities. That's why we stood up against this bill and defeated it. You can rest assured that under my watch, this kind of damaging legislation will have no place in our district.
We are also working on several other bills that will make our communities safer, including fighting violent crimes, protecting victims, addressing problems within the Department of Corrections, reducing property crimes, and fixing the many problems created by the Washington Supreme Court's decision to legalize drug possession in State v. Blake that came down last February. Sign up and keep checking my email updates to stay informed on all these efforts as we move forward this session.
Long-term Care Income Tax Disaster
House Republicans have been calling for the repeal of the heavily flawed, state-sponsored long-term care program and payroll tax majority Democrats passed in 2019. This program has too many flaws to count, which is why we hope the program and tax will be completely repealed. You can read more about our efforts to repeal this program by clicking here. If the majority chooses to delay the tax, rather than repeal it, I am co-sponsoring several other pieces of legislation that would at least improve the program.
Long-term care bills:
- House Bill 1594 – Would fully repeal the state long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
- House Bill 1597 – Would establish an exemption from the payment of premiums to the state's long-term care insurance program based on hardship.
- House Bill 1598 – Would require the case value of any unclaimed benefit units of a deceased qualified individual to be transferred as a property interest and distributed to designated beneficiaries of the decedent.
- House Bill 1599 – Would establish an exemption from the payment of premiums to the state's long-term care insurance program for recent high school, college, and university graduates who have purchased private long-term care insurance.
Make Your Voice Heard
Although House and Senate committee meetings will all be held virtually, please make sure your voice is still heard. If you want to participate, you can testify on any bill from anywhere you have internet access. I strongly encourage you to do so! Please click here to testify remotely.
Staying in Touch with the Legislative Process
Despite the remote nature of session, you can still track what's happening. Here are several links to help you keep up with the work of the Legislature:
My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories. Click on the link to subscribe.
The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans. Click on the link to subscribe.
TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
Legislature's website | Here you can see bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
Tracking a bill? | Click the link to find information on specific bills. In addition, when you visit my website you can easily view the legislation I'm sponsoring or co-sponsoring by clicking “Sponsored Bills.”
Please Stay in Touch
It's truly my honor to serve you, whether it's in-person in Olympia, from my district office, or via Zoom. Please continue to reach out to me using the contact information below. I value your input because it helps me be the most effective voice in Olympia I can be. If you'd like to share your thoughts and ideas with me in person, please contact my office to set up an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you!
Veritas Sine Timore,