I hope you are well. This has been a very busy interim and a lot has happened since session ended in April. As we look forward to the 2022 legislative session, there are many important issues that continue to weigh on my mind that will affect our entire state. But before I get into that, I want to first say thank you to all who have reached out to me to share your ideas, opinions, and feedback this interim.
I appreciate your interest in the 35th District and in Washington. I could not do this without your input and support. So, thank you for contacting me, and please continue to reach out.
Governor's Emergency Powers
One of the ongoing issues that continues to be a focus of many around the state is the governor's emergency powers. Republican lawmakers, as well as some Democrats in the Legislature, have called for reform. However, those pleas continue to go unanswered, as the governor has rejected all calls for a special session and any attempt to rein in his emergency powers. Click here to see everything House Republicans have done since this pandemic began to involve the Legislature during this ongoing emergency.
Our state government was not intended to be run by a single person without any input from the people via the Legislature. However, that is exactly what our governor has been doing for more than 18 months. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring your concerns forward and get them addressed immediately.
Let's Work Together to Fight COVID-19
One of the most controversial decisions from the governor has been his vaccine mandate. As a professional firefighter, I chose to get vaccinated, as did many of my fellow first responders, when it first became available last December. Then in September, I contracted COVID-19 and passed it on to my 7-year-old and other family members.
I understand the vaccine is a very personal and sensitive issue. There are good arguments for both sides. However, I have never agreed that we should mandate a vaccine. I believe it should remain a personal choice between you and your physician.
Soon after I recovered from COVID and the issues that ensued with it, many others were required to get the same vaccination I did. They believed it would stop them from contracting the virus and help prevent it from spreading, which would enable them to keep their jobs.
These are the same heroes that worked tirelessly on the front lines to combat COVID. I am not the only firefighter to test positive for Covid-19 in my department and there have been concerns that the many breakthrough cases would affect our staffing levels to the point that covering shifts was a concern. Forcing qualified, experienced workers out of a job simply adds to the strains the health and emergency services industries are already facing.
There are other ways to protect everyone from the virus, including regular testing. I believe we should all come together to find the best ways to combat this ongoing issue that will help protect everyone without anyone losing their rights to make personal medical decisions. This is another example of the governor abusing his emergency powers without the voice of the people.
Amending Police Reform Bills and Public Safety
Another ongoing issue this interim has been the fallout from several new police reform bills. Majority party Democrats passed numerous police-reform bills during the 2021 legislative session that have put our communities and our law enforcement officers at greater risk. Some of these measures took away several crucial tools that officers use to de-escalate situations. These changes have created some dangerous consequences, and as a result, our communities are less safe.
We need to address these police reforms that stand in the way of keeping the public safe. As a first responder, I count on our law enforcement to stabilize a scene so we can render aid. It is my job to protect my crews, but it is also my job to make sure victims receive needed aid. These new reforms have devastated that effort and put us in a position of choosing one or the other.
House Republicans offered several more balanced solutions, but most of our policies and amendments were rejected.
I have the greatest respect for our law enforcement community and the job they do to keep us safe. As a first responder, I know the risks they take every day. I also know most of our officers live up to the high standards to which they are held. And they put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities.
There is always room for some improvement in any field, but we need balanced solutions that protect individuals, communities, and our law enforcement officers. House Republicans have been calling for a special session for months to correct these confusing and unbalanced reforms.
Update on Long-Term Care Payroll Tax
Another hot topic this interim is the new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. This controversial and poorly thought-out law has already created several headaches for many Washingtonians.
The good news is there is a lot of opposition to this law from both sides of the political spectrum. House Republicans have called for a repeal of this payroll tax, and recently several opponents of the mandatory tax filed a class action lawsuit seeking to stop the January start of the program.
As the law currently stands, starting Jan. 1, 2022, all W-2 employees in the state will be subject to this new payroll tax, which will start at 58 cents for every $100 earned. In other words, if you make $100,000 a year you will pay an extra $580 in taxes.
Additionally, there is no cap on wages, meaning you will pay the tax on all wages and remuneration, including stock-based compensation, bonuses, paid time off, and severance pay. There is also no guarantee state government will not raise the rate in the future.
We support helping those who need assistance, but the Long-Term Care Act provides very little benefit (about three months of coverage on average) and most people who pay into the fund will never see a dime in return. It is not portable across state lines if you move, and you must pay in long enough to collect. Opting out has proven difficult and since this law was enacted, few if any companies provide a private, less expensive policy as they had previously. Click here to learn more about this new tax.
House Republicans Introduce “REAL” Transportation
Transportation continues to be another problematic issue in Washington, with few real solutions making a difference. That could change if the House Republican's new “REAL” transportation plan is adopted. This plan offers real solutions to our state's transportation issues.
Reprioritizing Existing Appropriations for Longevity (REAL) is the House Republican Caucus' approach to sustainable and equitable transportation funding. The plan focuses on creating and maintaining a transportation system for everyone in our state via sustainable funding.
It's time to work together to find a sustainable means of transportation funding, even when we're faced with challenging budget issues. We must start prioritizing policies and funding, so the existing system can be improved and maintained.
This will require us to honor our responsibilities and commitments, like building out Connecting Washington projects and correcting fish passage barriers, for example. We also need to ensure we have the funds for an equitable transportation system for all Washingtonians. Furthermore, we need to stop relying too much on financing to pay for current projects.
Lastly, we need to support economically sustainable environmental policies that will ease the financial burdens of Washington taxpayers. The REAL transportation plan will do all these things and provide effective solutions that work.
I've also been engaged in several other legislative activities in the 35th District since April. As you know, one of my greatest causes since I joined the Legislature is the fight for those who have survived sexual assaults. I continue to work on behalf of these individuals to ensure that these reforms make a real difference. I won't stop pushing this issue until every person who has suffered at the hands of a sexual predator receives justice.
I also continue to work on legislation I introduced last session aimed at protecting minors from pornography and sexual predators. House Bill 1292 would criminalize the act of knowingly providing pornographic and other harmful materials to a minor by anyone 18-years or older. I'm passionate about this issue, and I will do everything I can to move this bill forward in 2022.
This legislation, like many of the bills I work on, came to me from a constituent who was appalled that her young child was given pornographic material by a neighbor and when they reported it, were told it was not against the law. Another bill I have in the works would address the limited resources for male sexual assault victims. This demographic is underreported and needs the same access to the resources available to female victims.
Like the 2021 session, it appears that much of the 2022 legislative session will also be done remotely. However, you can still be involved. These links provide important information to help you stay informed and updated with everything going on in the Legislature, including all committee meetings and House floor sessions on TVW:
My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, radio appearances, 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 | 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
Thank you again for your interest and support. I'm here to represent you and I hope you will continue reaching out to me with your valuable input. You can reach me via phone or email to share your ideas and concerns. My contact info is listed below.
It's an honor to serve you,