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We passed another big deadline in the 2021 legislative session last week. Tuesday was the cutoff day for all bills to be passed out of their house of origin. We spent the last two weeks debating and voting on numerous policies, including some bills that are going to hurt Washington if they become law.
However, before I get into the details of those controversial bills, I want to talk about something positive: the reopening of our state, including schools.
Governor's Phase 3 Reopening Plan Matches Republican Ideas
You've probably heard by now that every county in our state will be moving to Phase 3 beginning next Monday, March 22. This is wonderful news that Republicans have been pushing for, for several weeks.
In fact, Republicans have been working hard on developing a reopening plan (House Bill 1553 and Senate Bill 5473) that is both safe and effective. We recently introduced our Open Safe, Open Now plan and shared it with the governor.
While the governor and his office originally dismissed the plan, it looks like he may have listened to us after all since he adopted several elements of it. Additionally, he issued a proclamation last week that all K-12 school districts in the state must offer some in-person learning by April 19.
While many families and businesses are still struggling from the effects of the shutdown, the medical emergency has subsided. The science shows that schools are safe to reopen, and vaccinations are up while positive cases are down. That is good news for the entire state of Washington.
It's also more proof that the executive powers need to be reined in. Before session ends, we need to work on emergency-powers reform, which should not be a partisan issue. It's important to have balanced, constitutionally sound government that ensures everyone is heard through their elected state lawmakers. House Republicans have proposed legislation to restore this proper balance. The Legislature must be allowed to do the job they were elected to do.
Republican Budget Proposal Plan
In case you missed it, House Republicans have also offered an operating budget proposal that provides help to all of Washington, without raising your taxes.
And now that the latest federal stimulus package has passed, every state including Washington, will be receiving help from the federal government. In fact, Washington is expected to receive $7.1 billion in recovery money for local, county, and state governments, in addition to a least $3 billion more in COVID relief for K-12 schools, higher education, and childcare.
State government definitely does NOT need to raise our taxes. We have enough taxpayer dollars already and with this additional federal money, we will have more than enough to continue funding important state programs and services.
House Republicans have offered a better way, which will help those in our state who need the most assistance, without creating any additional taxes. Click here to learn more about our budget plan.
Controversial Bills Recently Passed
Now to the controversial bills. More than 200 pieces of legislation have passed out of House this session, including several bills that would end up hurting our state. Republicans fought very hard to stop or at least improve these bills to reduce the negative effects. We offered dozens of amendments that would have made the bills better, but in the end, none of these policies would have passed if Republicans were in the majority.
Low-Carbon Fuel Standard – despite bipartisan opposition, including all 41 Republicans, House Bill 1091 still passed out of the House. This is the low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) bill, which the majority party has been pushing for several years. LCFS is a regressive policy that hurts low-income individuals and families and it will not have any measurable effect on our environment.
It's also bad for business, especially the thousands of businesses that rely on diesel for transportation. Lastly, it increases the costs of both gas and diesel without generating any revenue for transportation projects, and those costs will be passed onto consumers. You can expect the price at the pump to increase by as much as 57 cents and 63 cents, respectively if this bill becomes law.
Protecting Residential Tenants – House Bill 1236 is another bad bill. But despite hours of debate, numerous good amendments that were mostly rejected, and bipartisan opposition, the majority party still passed this bill. Click here to watch the full debate. This is a terrible bill, which essentially takes away the rights of landlords to determine who they can rent to or when and why they can evict a tenant.
Gang members, trespassers, and people engaging in racial harassment or illegal businesses, don't deserve the special protections this bill would give them, such as the right to force a property owner to renew an expired lease.
This policy puts the burden on rental housing providers and forces them to go through complicated and expensive legal proceedings with uncertain outcomes. This is unfair and unequitable treatment for property owners, who are trying to take care of their families.
Police Reform – Police reform has been a huge topic this session. As a first responder, this issue hits very close to home. I've worked with countless law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect our communities. I recognize there are some bad actors, but we should not punish everyone because of a few bad seeds.
However, despite united Republican opposition, the majority party has passed House Bills 1310, 1054, and 1267, all of which will make it much harder for our law enforcement officers to do their job, which means public safety will decrease, putting our communities at risk of more criminal activity.
Capital Gains Income Tax – Senate Bill 5096 narrowly passed out of the Senate Saturday, 25-24, despite plenty of bipartisan opposition. This bill taxes profits on sales of stocks, bonds, and other assets in excess of $250,000. It would raise and estimated $550 million per year for the state and would exempt real estate and retirement accounts. However, this bill is an income tax, despite what its proponents might say. An income tax is illegal under the state constitution and Washingtonians have voted against implementing an income tax nearly a dozen times already. Our government does not need any additional tax money. We need to better use what we have.
You Can Still Make Your Voice Heard
Now more than ever it's time for you to make your voice heard about these bad bills. Please reach out to members of the respective House and Senate committees these bills will be heard in next. You can testify on any of these bills, or any other legislation that is still alive this session, from anywhere you have internet access. Use these links to sign up to testify remotely and share your input:
Stay Connected with the Legislature
You can stay up to date with everything going on in the Legislature. Here are some links that will help:
My legislative website |Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
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 | Here you can find bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
Tracking a Bill|Click here to find information on specific bills.
Thank You and Please Continue Reaching Out
Please continue to reach out to me with all your input and feedback. I value your opinion and I'm here to represent you in the 35th District. You can connect with me via email, phone, or Zoom. Thank you for allowing me to serve you, and for your continued support.
403 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7966 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000