Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session is moving fast. We've already passed the midway point and the first policy cutoff date, which was Feb. 4 for most bills and Feb. 7 for fiscal bills. All bills had to pass out of their respective committees in their chamber of origin by those dates, except bills necessary to implement the budget, which have until the end of session.
Now that we have passed this first cutoff, we will be working day and night on the House floor for the next week, voting on dozens of pieces of legislation. House Republicans continue to push for real solutions to the many challenges Washingtonians are facing. Unfortunately, majority party Democrats keep trying to solve these problems with the same broken fixes.
Emergency Powers and Mask Mandate Update
As this pandemic and governor-declared state of emergency roll on, Republicans have been calling for change to the governor's emergency powers. This is not a partisan issue. The people of Washington need to have a voice in this process through the Legislature. However, the governor has repeatedly shut down the call for change.
There is some possible good news forthcoming regarding the pandemic. Numerous reports indicate that the governor might be ready to lift some of the state's mask mandates. Now that Oregon and California have announced similar moves, the governor is getting more pressure to do the same.
On that note, me, and some of my fellow House Republicans, pressed the issue again by formally demanding the governor follow the new scientific data AND follow the lead of Oregon and California and end indoor mask mandates and other COVID-related restrictions on the people of Washington. Click here to see the letter.
Unfortunately, the governor again refused to relent and instead only removed the OUTDOOR mask mandate that science had already debunked as ineffective. Most people didn't even realize that was still one of his active rules. As I've said before, this is a clear example of why single-person rule needs to end.
Update on My First Responder Legislation
I'm happy to report that House Bill 1826 has passed out of committee and is waiting for a vote by the entire House of Representatives. The bill would make it a crime to interfere with firefighters and emergency workers who are acting in the line of duty.
Multiple first responder groups came out in support of this legislation, and KOMO 4 news recently did a piece about this issue. Click here to view. These crimes are potentially costing people their life and there should be felony-level violations that carry up to a five-year prison sentence and monetary fines. There needs to be consideration given to the fact that our firefighters need to be there when we need them the most.
I'm not done working on this bill yet. A recent string of burglaries in Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties, as reported in the piece by KOMO, have drawn attention to an additional problem firefighters and fire stations are facing. Three separate stations in these counties have been burglarized and specific equipment used to save lives has been taken.
I believe the penalties for these crimes should be increased and I'm working to either add theft from a fire station to my existing bill, or I will draft another piece of legislation that would address this issue separately.
I have the deepest respect for firefighters and other first responders and the lifesaving services they provide. Anyone who is willing to risk their own safety to help others deserves to be supported and protected while they perform these critical duties and save people's lives. I will keep working on this until I find a resolution.
Other Bills Moving Forward
In addition to my first responder legislation, several other bills I'm co-sponsoring are also progressing. The following bills have all been passed by the House and will now move to the Senate for further consideration.
House Bill 1497 would restrict telephone solicitation to the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and require telephone solicitors to provide identifying information within the first 30 seconds of a call, and to end the call within 10 seconds of the called party indicating they want to end the call. It would also require telephone solicitors requesting a donation or gift of money to provide a specific list of options to the called party.
House Bill 1593 would help tenants who are victims of crimes by expanding the Landlord Mitigation Program to allow landlords' claims for damages to residential rental property when a tenant-victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking terminates the tenancy and certain other conditions are met.
House Bill 1611 would authorize state funding provided for the Highly Capable Program (HiCap Program) to be used by school districts for identifying and providing (instead of only providing) services to highly capable students. It would also require school districts to conduct universal screenings to find students who need further assessment for potential HiCap Program placement.
House Bill 1625 would extend access to paid military leave to public employee members of the United States Space Force.
House Bill 1642 would modify eligibility requirements and the award amount for the Washington National Guard Postsecondary Education Grant program.
House Bill 1655 would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to reconfigure its maintenance operations to assure that state-owned and operated safety rest areas are open for use except for seasonal closures or cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.
House Bill 1669 would create a disability benefit for members of the Public Safety Employees' Retirement System totally disabled in the line of duty and provide the totally disabled member with a benefit of up to 70% of final average salary.
House Bill 1753 would require state agencies that administer funds from certain accounts created by the Climate Commitment Act to offer consultation to federally recognized tribes whose tribal resources may be affected by the award of funds from the accounts.
House Bill 1789 would modify the property tax exemption for property owned by a nonprofit used as an adult family home for the developmentally disabled to ensure that the exemption may be claimed whether the services are provided by a nonprofit or another licensed provider.
House Bill 1794 would require employer reimbursement of fees charged to an employee due to a paycheck returned for nonsufficient funds.
House Bill 1804 would expand the definition of veteran for purposes of veterans' benefits in state pension systems, legal assistance, scoring criteria on civil service exams, and other programs, to include members that were awarded an expeditionary medal.
House Bill 1888 would authorize the Department of Revenue to annually adjust the rate of Working Families Tax Credit reductions based on qualifying income changes.
House Bill 1899 would exempt certain information provided to the Department of Financial Institutions by an out-of-state or federal agency, or a regulatory association comprised of members of financial regulatory agencies, from disclosure under the Public Records Act.
I will continue to update you on these bills and others I'm working on as they progress.
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Thank You for Your Support!
Thank you again for your continued support. I'm dedicated to representing you and being your voice in the Legislature. Please keep reaching out to me to share your thoughts, opinions, and concerns. You can contact me in-person, by phone and email, or via Zoom. I can also be reached in-district at 360-480-5970. I will continue reaching out to you with further updates and other forms of communication. Thank you!
Veritas Sine Timore,