I hope this email update finds you safe and well. These past few days have been extremely busy thanks to our unusual winter storm. As most of you know, in addition to representing you in the state Legislature, I'm also a firefighter, which means I routinely work weekends when we're not on the House floor.
I spent this past weekend working to help numerous individuals in our communities. We received countless calls and performed numerous transports over the 48-hour period. It was a crazy weekend for everyone in the area with the snow and ice and the problems they caused. The reason I'm telling you this is that I want you to know I love my job and serving the people of the 35th District. Being able to be out in the community helping people through difficult circumstances is a great way for me to stay in touch with you and understand your needs. We're all in this together.
Thank you for your continued support and please continue reaching out to me. I look forward to speaking with and hopefully meeting in-person with you very soon.
Session Update: Budget and Taxes
There has been a lot going on in the Legislature, and we recently hit our policy cut-off point, which means Monday night was the deadline for bills to pass out of committee in their house of origin, except for fiscal committees. That means, starting next week, we will be voting on numerous bills in the House.
It also means the debate on budget and taxes is about to ramp up. Republicans are united in our determination to stop new or increased taxes. The majority party has already introduced several proposals that will raise your taxes. I'll always speak out against more taxes, but right now is the worst time to be hitting Washingtonians, who are still trying to recover from the pandemic and the governor-ordered shutdown, with more taxes.
The Legislature doesn't need to make major cuts to programs and services, and we don't need to increase your taxes. The state has enough money to fund essential services and we can create an operating budget that provides relief for COVID-19 that doesn't require any new taxes. House Republicans unveiled our operating budget proposal on Tuesday, which is designed to help those who need it the most. Here are a few examples:
- Funds the Working Families Tax Credit for the first time in its 12-year history ($600M)
- Sales tax exemption for basic necessities, like prepared food and diapers ($293M)
- $300 stipends to low-income families to defray cost of remote learning ($160M)
- Grants and higher rates for child care providers; copay assistance for families ($114M)
- Increased federal allocations to school districts, contingent on reopening ($156M)
- Equitable enrichment funding for charter and tribal schools ($44M)
- Learning “catch up,” prioritized for historically disadvantaged populations ($500M)
- Additional STEM enrollment slots at state universities and community colleges ($30M)
- Flexible, ongoing homelessness funding for cities and counties that clean up encampments near schools, parks and playgrounds and ban injection sites ($736M)
- Investments in community behavioral health, triple the Governor's proposal ($225M)
- Rate increases for providers of developmental disability/long-term care (DD/LTC), behavioral health, and primary care ($430M)
- Replenishes unemployment insurance (UI) fund to replace fraud losses and mitigate skyrocketing UI taxes ($500M)
- Temporary B&O tax relief for restaurants and other hard-hit businesses ($94M)
- Authorizes B&O, property tax and liquor fee deferrals for small businesses
- Boosts funding for the state's tourism marketing campaign ($12M)
All of Washington
- No new taxes on anyone or anything
- Additional funds for foundational public health without taxing health insurance ($300M)
- Funds DNR's forest health management plan, reducing wildfires and pollution ($260M)
- Maximizes production at state and tribal hatcheries to support fish populations ($12M)
The House Republican budget doesn't include any new taxes. It actually reduces taxes by $445 million. It includes roughly $608 million in fund transfers and other revenue assumptions. It also appropriates $1.8 billion from the state's rainy-day fund to pay for a series of one-time, COVID-related expenses. The rainy-day fund is projected to quickly rebound, reaching $1.1 billion by the end of FY25. We can move forward and fix the real problems we face, with these real solutions that will help all of Washington.
Important Legislation I'm Still Working on
I came into this session focused on another major issue, but sadly, some much-needed reform to protect our children is not going to make it out of the House this year.
I introduced House Bill 1292, which would criminalize the act of knowingly providing pornographic and other harmful materials to a minor by anyone 18-years or older.
In other words, anyone who provides this kind of harmful, vulgar material to a minor would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. If the offending individual has previously been convicted of a felony sexual offense, they would be guilty of a class C felony. My goal is to wipe out all grooming activities that serial pedophiles use to pursue having sex with children.
House Bill 1292 is not a form of censorship and showing kids pornography is not a form of free speech protected by the constitution. It's unfortunate the bill did not receive a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee, meaning it's now dead for this session.
However, this will not be the end of this legislation. I'm not going to stop. I'm already working to form a coalition of lawmakers from both sides to protect our children and put a stop to this salacious tactic used by these predatory monsters. This is common sense legislation and we need to come together with respect for one another and discuss this issue and find common ground.
Lastly, I want to thank you for being a part of the legislative process. We cannot do our job without you. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I represent you and I truly want to be your voice in the Legislature. You can contact me via email, phone, or over Zoom, and please visit my website often for important legislative information and updates.
It's an honor serving you,