Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session adjourned sine die on Thursday, March 10. We spent part of our time fixing legislation created in past sessions, fought a massive, partisan transportation package and could not get the majority party to provide meaningful tax relief for working families despite a historic budget surplus. Also, after two years of pushing for emergency powers reform, the Democratic majority party was not interested in passing legislation on this issue.
The mostly remote session was once again very partisan with no in-person committee hearings and the public not allowed to meet with the legislators who were able to be on campus. It made it difficult to address our Republican priorities with the lack of willingness to work together, especially on high-profile issues.
In this end-of-session review I will touch on some of those issues and much more. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns about the legislation in this email update or any other state issues.
Fixing the police reforms
Early in session, we passed legislation to delay the long-term care insurance mandate passed by Democrats in 2019. It only delays the mandate 18 months, but does not provide any fixes. I voted against the delay, as I believe the state did not have any business in any way, shape or form in deciding long-term plans that should be left to the market.
The Legislature also had to work to fix the police reform legislation passed last year by the majority party that was making our communities unsafe. We were able to get bipartisan legislation passed to address some of the changes that needed to be made.
The governor has already signed two bills. House Bill 1735, addresses the use of force which makes clear that the Legislature never intended to stop police from using force in situations such as transporting a person for treatment or providing mental health assistance; taking a minor into protective custody; and executing or enforcing an order directing an officer to take someone into custody. House Bill 1719 fixes an oversight that seemed to inadvertently prohibit police departments from possessing certain less-lethal weapons.
There is also House Bill 2037, which awaits the governor's signature, that would provide a more clear definition for our law enforcement officers on the physical use of force.
However, we did not get Senate Bill 5919 across the finish line. It passed both the House and Senate in various forms, but it got hung up in the Senate on the last day. This legislation would have incorporated reasonable suspicion back into law enforcement officers' abilities to perform vehicular pursuits. This is a public safety issue that must be addressed.
Debate on emergency powers reform halted
For two years Washington state has been under a “state of emergency.” House Republicans have made many efforts to address emergency powers since the beginning of the pandemic. Check out this web page that highlights our efforts.
We tried to address it again this session. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said she was “seeking balance” earlier in the year, which gave us hope something would be done. Unfortunately, we adjourned with nothing done and the imbalance in Washington state government remains.
Some across the aisle are claiming a Republican filibuster stopped Senate Bill 5909. First, there is no filibuster in state government. When the Senate Bill came to us in the House, Republicans viewed it as a watered-down emergency reform bill that did very little. House Democrats brought the bill up for a vote just after 1 a.m. on March 3. We debated for 20 minutes, and then they stopped debate. We had amendments to improve the bill and were prepared to debate the merits of emergency powers reform, but this apparently was not a priority of the House majority party. Editorials around the state also agree it was time for some reform.
- The Columbian: Strong legislation needed to curb governor power | Feb. 22, 2022
- The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Bill on emergency power limits ineffective | Feb. 20, 2022
- Tri-City Herald: Don't be fooled. Bill by WA Senate Dems does little to contain Inslee's emergency powers | Feb. 18, 2022
It is extremely disappointing the majority party did not want to address emergency powers reform this session.
Second Amendment threatened
In my Feb. 18 email update I reviewed legislation introduced by the majority party that was threatening our Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the four bills I discussed ended up passing the Legislature. A quick review:
- Senate Bill 5078 would ban the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. Passed the Senate 28-20. Passed the House 55-42.
- House Bill 1705 would restrict the manufacture and sale of untraceable firearms, or ghost guns, and unfinished frames and receivers. Passed the House 57-39. Passed the Senate 26-23.
- House Bill 1630 would ban open-carry firearms and other weapons from local government meetings, election sites and off-campus school board meetings. Passed the House 57-41. Passed the Senate 28-20.
- House Bill 1901 would include the ability to revoke an individual's firearm rights under certain conditions when there is a civil protection or restraining order in effect. Passed the House 57-40. Passed the Senate 30-17.
I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. I voted against all these bills, and I am adamantly opposed to them. Criminals do not obey gun laws. The legislation that passed will end up penalizing law-abiding, responsible gun owners. I will continue to vote against any legislation that may infringe upon your rights to bear arms.
Unsustainable spending, with no tax relief
I voted “no” on the operating budget. Not only does it continue unsustainable spending levels, but there was no tax relief for Washington state taxpayers.
Inflation is at a 40-year high, gas is at record prices, and many folks continue working their way out of economic hardship with the pandemic lockdowns. Yet, Washington state has an unprecedented state budget surplus of nearly $15 billion over the next four years.
The Legislature had an opportunity to do something for the taxpayers. It was the perfect time to give taxpayer dollars back to the hardworking citizens of our state.
Instead, Democrats chose to increase spending by $6.1 billion to almost $65 billion for the 2021-23 biennium. Their operating budget increases spending by $12.5 billion or 24% higher than the 2019-21 budget. In my floor speech against the spending plan, I reminded fellow legislators that the operating budget had more than doubled the last ten years but the census indicated the population of Washington state had grown at much lower rate at 13%.
Republicans offered their own budget framework, “SAFE Washington” led by our ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Drew Stokesbary. We wanted to demonstrate that the state can provide meaningful tax relief for working families while still addressing critical needs. Our budget framework would:
- Cut the state sales tax by a full percentage point.
- Deliver billions of dollars in ongoing funding for transportation projects.
- Reduce B&O taxes on the sectors seeing the highest inflation, including manufacturing, timber, and food processors.
- Repeal the mandatory long-term care tax and replace it with an optional program.
- Rescue the beleaguered Paid Family & Medical Program to avoid another payroll tax increase on employees next year.
- Offer one-time grants to businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, including hotels and restaurants.
- Provide police departments with funding for officer retention and recruitment bonuses.
It would also leave a four-year surplus of $2.1 billion while the Democrat plan would only leave a small, four-year ending fun balance of $348 million.
Democrats transportation plan
I also opposed the Democrats' Move Ahead Washington transportation plan. Republicans were left completely out of the negotiating process on the plan.
This partisan package spends $16.8 billion over 16 years. It raises fees and taxes by about $2.3 billion on Washington citizens, at a time when we don't need to and there is an operating budget surplus we can use. It doesn't adequately address maintenance and preservation needs, while pumping millions of dollars into public transit, bicycle and pedestrian paths, electrification of ferries, and expansion of electric charging stations across Washington.
Finally, it would transfer $57 million a year from the state's Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA). Our local governments rely on this account for local infrastructure projects, such as water and sewer, to improve their communities and economic opportunity. This is the wrong approach.
The supplemental capital budget continued our historic capital investments in the 4th District and across Washington state from last year's record-breaking capital budget. The 2022-23 supplemental capital budget includes $397,000 for a renovation of the lodge at Mount Spokane, $100,000 for the Newman Lake Milfoil Reduction plan and $200,000 for continued improvements at Felts Field airport. For more information, click here.
This is on top of the $16.8 million in funds for community projects and other infrastructure needs we secured in last year's capital budget.
While the capital spending plan makes significant investments in K-12 school construction, broadband, school seismic safety, public works, and housing, it also continues our support for mental health. See graph below.
Stay in touch
While the 2022 legislative session is over, I am your state representative year round. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or issues related to state issues. I appreciate your input and feedback.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you!