Dear Friends and Neighbors,
President Biden recently announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private businesses with more than 100 employees set to start on Jan. 4.
Fortunately, a recent court decision has put that on hold, but we will have to see how things play out in the near future.
I am adamantly opposed to mandatory vaccines at any level. Our government, whether it is federal or state, should not be dictating to the private businesses and citizens of Washington what they should be putting in their bodies. As I have stated before, it is a personal choice. I truly believe the mandates cross constitutional lines, and violate a person's privacy, individual rights and freedoms.
I heard from thousands of you about Gov. Inslee's vaccine mandate on state workers. According to a Seattle Times article on Oct. 19:
“About 3% of the 63,000 Washington state workers subject to Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate have left their jobs or were terminated as this week's deadline passed. So far, 1,887 state employees were terminated or left their positions over the mandate that they be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs, according to the Office of Financial Management. Another roughly 3%, or 1,927 workers, received an accommodation that allows them to work in a less-public role without being vaccinated. An additional 4.6% of state workers — nearly 2,900 — are still in a state of flux, according to a statement by OFM Tuesday afternoon.”
While we don't know the full impacts of the governor's actions, it appears road maintenance this winter will be affected.
- WSDOT has largest segment of state employees to leave over vaccine mandate (MyNorthwest)
- Will the passes get plowed? Impact of vaccine mandate firings on state services not yet clear (NW News Network)
- BLOG: WSDOT admits winter travel will be slow and dangerous due to staffing shortage (Mariya Frost/Washington Policy Center)
Long-term care tax
My office has received numerous inquiries about the Democrats' new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. While we have reached the Nov. 1 deadline for Washington workers to purchase a qualifying long-term care insurance plan that would have allowed them to apply for an exemption, there continues to be pushback and calls for change to this poor policy.
As of Nov. 4, the Employment Security Department has received more than 344,000 applications for an exemption. I am hopeful we can address this flawed program in the upcoming session.
Earlier this month, House Republicans officially called for the repeal of the Washington Cares Fund. Reps. Joe Schmick and Peter Abbarno have taken the lead on this issue for us. Read their op-ed in The Seattle Times: Hit the reset button on long-term care insurance mandate. I expect there will be a number of bills introduced during the session to amendment or repeal this policy.
Here are a just of few of the comments I have received from constituents on this issue:
- The upcoming LTC requirement is a ridiculous burden to force upon the people. At my income level, the cost of this coverage is absurdly high for the mere $36,000 coverage limit that the policy provides. My wife and I wish to opt-out, but I cannot find a single provider that is accepting new LTC quotes in Washington. We now face the likely scenario of paying greater than $20,000 in premiums from now until our retirement for a plan that we don't wish to purchase. I'm not opposed to state-sponsored insurance systems, but this one suffers from simple bad planning.
- Was told that we would have to file within the ESD website (SAW). I have had to search on my own to figure out to file this exemption. Went there Friday and site was down; went there again today and there is no “exemption” listed anywhere on the site after following all the instructions, as well as “delays” because site is overloaded. Once again, the state was not prepared to put this in place. I have purchased a policy and need to file the exemption – how are we to go about this when we can't get answers from anyone (including ESD)!!!!???
- I wanted to send a brief message about my distain for how the Cares fund is being forced on us. I understand the need for the fund, but I can personally afford a better policy myself and also will potentially retire outside of Washington state. So I'm quite aggravated that I will be required to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $15k over the next 15-20 years for a benefit I will never get and still have to fund privately. To my understanding, you stand similarly on the position that we should have a choice on the matter. I have no opposition to the need for the fund, but oppose the manner in which it is being force upon us.
For more information on the long-term care tax click here.
Insurance rates – credit scoring court ruling shows another need for emergency powers reform
On June 20, Office of the Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency rule banning credit scoring. It was to be in effect for three years or until after the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over. During that time, insurance companies would no longer be able to use credit scores to determine premiums for home, auto and renter's insurance policies.
I began hearing from many of you, as this was penalizing many Washington residents. Some were seeing sizable rate increases, with senior citizens seeing increases of more than 20%. However, a court ruling last month ended Commissioner Kreidler's emergency ruling.
At this time, I am not sure if an appeal is planned or what Kreidler's next step could be. What we do know, is this is an unnecessary use of emergency rules and a good example as to why we need emergency powers reform.
Click here to check out House Republican efforts to address emergency powers reform.
Information and resources for other important issues
Below are additional links to other issues we are currently facing in Washington state. I hope you will take the time to check them out.
- Why police reform bills have made communities less safe
- Regressive policies will create more pain at the pump for Washingtonians
- Why breaching our dams would do more harm than good | Salmon and hydroelectric power can co-exist
Capital gains tax advisory vote
Democrats in the Legislature passed and the governor signed a capital gains income tax into law last session. Like all tax bills passed by the Legislature, they go to the November ballot for an advisory vote so you, the citizens of Washington, can weigh in.
More than 61% of voters said the measure, Advisory Vote 37, should be repealed. It failed in 36 of 39 counties. House Republicans argued during the session the majority party was not listening to the public on this issue and that is reflected in the advisory vote. It should be noted the majority party has passed other tax increases the last few years, while tax revenues remain strong. I can assure you in the upcoming session, I will be working hard to protect your hard-earned dollars and will speak out against more tax increases while advocating for tax cuts.
McFarland Award – protecting property rights
Earlier this summer, I received the McFarland Award. It is an award given by the Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights to those who have worked tirelessly on issues related to property rights.
I was very humbled to receive the award. The letter I received stated my work toward an efficient, common sense government, both as Spokane County treasurer and a state legislator. I know my role in averting the takeover of Avista by Hydro One played a role in their decision. Again, I am deeply grateful and will continue my work in the Legislature to champion property rights.
The Washington State Redistricting Commission missed its Monday, Nov. 15 deadline to redraw legislative and congressional maps. That responsibility now goes to the state Supreme Court. The court does not have to follow the commission's maps. However, the commission is recommending the maps they agreed upon after the deadline. The court has until April 30 to draw new boundaries. Hopefully they do not take long, so elected officials and constituents know which legislative and/or congressional district they reside. To review the final maps of the commission click here.
Upcoming session and future email updates
Because of certain restrictions, I cannot send any more email updates until the legislative session convenes on Jan. 10. However, if you have any questions about this update, the upcoming session or state government-related matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I appreciate your input and feedback on the issues impacting our state and communities.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!