Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to take a moment and update you on the good and bad policies moving through the legislative process.
Affordable, reliable energy
As I mentioned in my last email update, families continue to struggle with the cost of living in our state — including gas and energy prices. Too many decisions in Olympia, like passing the carbon tax, have increased costs in Washington.
During one of the coldest weeks of the year, when energy companies sent letters to families to reduce energy, the majority party prioritized and passed legislation that would ban natural gas in new residential and commercial buildings. Think about how much individuals and families rely on natural gas on a daily basis.
I voted against House Bill 1589 because it would increase the costs of housing, energy and goods in our state. You deserve affordable, reliable energy. I helped lead the debate against this measure. Despite bipartisan opposition, it passed on a narrow 52-45 vote.
Prioritizing victims over felons
We have seen a trend in Olympia over the last few years of policies that favor criminals over victims. Over this same time, we have also seen a spike in crime in our state. For your information, various statistics for our state show that from 2018-22: violent crime is up 19%; homicide is up 61%; aggravated assault is up 29%; motor vehicle theft is up 73%; and property crime is up 13%. You can find these charts here.
While our communities are less safe, two weeks ago, the House heard a policy — House Bill 2030 — that would allow felons the right to vote and hold office while serving in prison. Pedophiles could be elected to school boards, rapists could be elected to city councils, and murderers could serve as jurors. A prison in a rural area could impact local elections. This sounds outrageous because it is. More importantly, it is offensive to victims and their families and people living in these locations.
Another bill that puts criminals above victims, House Bill 1268, passed off the House floor and through Senate committees last year. The measure would reduce sentences for some people convicted of serious crimes — including gang activity and drug violations in protected zones. The message sent on this bill is people can commit serious crimes and face minimal consequences. That point, and many others, were made in the floor debate last year.
House Bill 1396, which passed out of the House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee this week, would reduce mandatory sentences for individuals between the ages of 18 to 20 who commit aggravated murder in the first degree and require resentencing for any person who was sentenced prior to May 1, 2024, to life imprisonment without parole for an offense committed at age 18 to 20.
House Bill 2001, which also passed out of the committee this week, would allow certain persons convicted of a felony to petition a court to reduce their original sentence.
Why would state lawmakers spend any time on these policies when our state has so many pressing needs and crises to address?
Assisting small schools with capital needs
We know many school districts, especially smaller ones, are struggling with funding for capital needs. Every student deserves a safe, quality learning environment. Many school buildings in rural areas need a lot of repairs or even replacement. Unfortunately, rural low-income, poor taxing districts are unable to provide the money to pay more property taxes for these repairs, unlike the wealthier areas of the state. We also know many people are already struggling to pay higher property taxes.
Help could be on the way. House Bill 1044 would provide funding to small school districts for capital projects through a grant process determined by need. I support this legislation and believe it will benefit the 7th District. It passed the House 93-0 last week and is now in the Senate for consideration. You can watch my floor speech in support of the measure here.
Mobile mental health crisis intervention
As you are aware, we are in a mental health crisis. In rural areas, law enforcement responds to these critical mental health emergencies. Unfortunately, due to the low rates of law enforcement and mental health providers, individuals living in rural areas have inequitable access to care. As a result, rural counties have a higher suicide rate than more urban areas.
I am sponsoring legislation involving mobile mental health crisis intervention. House Bill 1661 would provide mobile mental health crisis intervention for those experiencing mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. This policy would provide a unit to respond and stay with the individuals during these crises.
As our state pushes to do big things to improve its mental health system, we also need to look at smaller, targeted solutions like this one. This bill has bipartisan support and was unanimously passed out of the House Innovation, Community & Economic Development, & Veterans Committee.
Please share your thoughts
It is important to participate in the legislative process. Going on the record can help policies move forward or be stopped. Learn how you can be involved, including testifying on bills, at this web page.
I want to hear from constituents when making decisions on how to vote on amendments and bills. I welcome you to share your thoughts in emails, calls, letters, or in-person meetings. I look forward to hearing from you.
Here are some helpful links:
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator
- Washington State House Republicans | Our Priorities | News & Media
Have a nice weekend.