As we enter the fourth week of the 2021 legislative session, we are all still adjusting to our virtual arrangement. There have been some technical difficulties, but so far, things have gone better than expected. However, I do wish we were meeting under normal circumstances. I miss the energy from being in Olympia surrounded by my fellow representatives, as well as being able to meet with you in-person.
Some of the best legislative ideas I have come from those individual, personal conversations with you and my fellow lawmakers. However, even though we can't meet in person, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I still want to hear from you. I believe our government is at its best when the people make their voices heard. If you want to testify on any bill, just click here to learn how. Please continue to share your input this session.
What's the Rush?
The 2021 session is scheduled to last 105 days, which means we have more time to look at every angle of any bill brought before the Legislature. There are so many pressing issues that we need to discuss and resolve. Some of them are urgent, like providing real relief from the pandemic, but there are many other issues that don't have to be resolved immediately.
However, the majority seems to be moving at break-neck speeds to pass some of the most controversial legislation as fast as they can. We're not talking about commemorative license plates; these are some major issues, like tax increases, executive power, and police reform.
- Emergency Proclamations – it all started in the first week of session, when House and Senate Democrats voted in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 8402, which extends the governor's authority during a state of emergency.
SCR 8402 packaged together 26 of the governor's proclamations and extends them indefinitely until the governor's office decides to end them, meaning the Legislature is once again left without a voice. This is not how our government is supposed to operate. The Legislature and the people they represent deserve to be a part of the process in these important decisions that impact everyone.
- Transportation Budget – House Democrats are proposing a 16-year, $25.8 billion package of statewide transportation improvements, that would increase the gas tax by 18 cents per gallon and implement a low carbon fuel tax, giving Washington the highest gas tax in the U.S.
I recognize the need we have to improve our state's aging transportation infrastructure, but we need to reprioritize our existing revenues, not increase taxes. People across our state are still struggling to make ends meet. Now is not the time to raise the gas tax, and add on a carbon tax, when our state still hasn't recovered from the pandemic.
- Capital Gains Tax – If gas and carbon taxes weren't enough already, as I mentioned in my previous update, the Senate has also introduced a bill (Senate Bill 5096) that would create a 9% income tax on capital gains as small as $25,000. This could be devastating to many small businesses who have already been forced to shut down. For example, if this bill passes, a business owner who had to permanently close because of the governor's extended shutdown orders, would face a new income tax when they tried to sell their property. Washingtonians have already voted down an income tax 10 times. They have made their position clear.
- Police Reform – Democrats are pushing for major police reform this session. I recognize the need to make sure our law enforcement officers are held accountable for their actions. However, limiting what tools officers have at their disposal could have the opposite of the intended outcome, and actually lead to officers using more force. Additionally, being too quick to judge law enforcement's actions could lead to good officers being wrongly decertified.
Chronic homelessness, drug addiction, crime, gang activity, and untreated mental illness have made many of our communities unsafe. Rather than addressing the root causes of these problems and making difficult decisions to fix them, Democrats have enabled destructive behavior and left our law enforcement professionals without needed support.
House Republicans honor and respect those who serve and protect our communities and oppose all efforts to defund the police. With a focus on compassion, enforcement, and accountability, we will work to keep our streets, neighborhoods, and families safe.
These are major issues that need much discussion and consideration from all perspectives. We need input from every possible viewpoint to make the best decisions. By trying to push things through too quickly, we end up with bad policies that hurt people even more. We can't change the state in a day or two. It takes time to find the best answers.
My fellow Republicans and I are working on real bipartisan solutions and common-sense legislation that will help people throughout our entire state. Here are a few of the ideas we have offered so far, none of which include raising taxes.
- House Bill 1334, the Real Recovery Act, would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and expand COVID testing and vaccine administration.
- House Bill 1299 would provide business and occupation tax relief to the hospitality industry that so desperately needs help.
- House Bill 1010 would dedicate the state sales tax on motor vehicles for transportation.
- House Bill 1137 would elevating road maintenance and preservation.
- House Bill 1249 would mandate that sales tax revenues on transportation projects are used for transportation purposes, with at least 70% being deposited into the motor vehicle fund.
Let's find solutions, but let's make sure they resolve the issues we're trying to fix, instead of making them worse.
New Bill to Stop Sexual Predators Introduced
I also want to share some details about the first bill I'm sponsoring this session. This is a difficult subject matter but it's also very important. House Bill 1292 would criminalize the act of knowingly providing pornographic and other harmful materials to a minor by anyone 18-years or older.
If the bill passes, a person who provides harmful material to a minor would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. Additionally, if the offending individual has previously been convicted of a felony sexual offense, they would be guilty of a class C felony.
I'm passionate about protecting our children and youth from sexual predators. This legislation is aimed at wiping out all grooming activities that serial pedophiles use to pursue having sex with children. I will do everything in my power to see that these offenders are held accountable for their actions.
It will be up to the majority whether this bill receives a hearing. I will keep you posted on its progress.
Despite it being a remote session, you can stay up to date with everything going on in the Legislature with these helpful links:
My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, radio appearances, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
Radio appearances | Here you can listen to my weekly radio interview on IFiberOneNewsRadio, KMAS.
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 | 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.
Please Stay in Touch
As we move forward with the 2021 session, please continue to reach out to me via email, phone, or Zoom. I'm here to represent you and my door is always open. My number one goal this session is to bring real unity and recovery to our state. We all need to work together to find common ground and be successful. Your ideas and input will help us do that. Thank you for your continued support. I could not serve effectively without it.
It's an honor serving you.