Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The state's quarterly economic revenue forecast was released this week and the news was staggering. Another $941 million in resources is expected to come into the state over the next four years. In addition, more people have jobs and less are needing services. The end result is a four-year budget surplus of about $2.4 billion!
You have paid more in taxes than anytime in state history. TOO MUCH TAXES. We need property tax relief now. I cosponsored legislation this week to give a billion dollars back to Washington residents through tax relief that includes $30 car tabs. But again, we should also be looking at significant reductions in the state portion of the property tax. If you're like me, you're getting your property tax bill in the mail now and wondering how you're going to pay for the increase.
Several of my bills are still moving through the process
This week marked the first floor cutoff of session. We spent the last week or so (and some very long nights) on the House floor debating and voting on bills to send over to the Senate. As the Republican floor leader it's my job to organize the debate strategy, work on amendments to legislation, help get our priorities and values recognized, and keep my members informed of all the last-minute changes. It's been a very busy – but fulfilling – week.
Through it all, I have several bills that passed the House and are still moving through the legislative process:
HB 1983 – allow WDFW to use best available land management techniques (brush clearing, removing firewood, grazing, etc.) to remove large fuel loads without having to go through an environmental impact statement. This will help keep our fuel loads down, which is important during dry, hot summers.
HB 2621 – exempts certain rural health clinics from in-home service agency licensure and certificate of need requirements. This will help our rural health care crisis.
HB 2926 – expands access to critical incident stress management programs for law enforcement. Whether an officer serves in Seattle/Spokane, or Colville/Omak, they should have programs available to them to deal with the crisis situations they face.
HB 2662 – reduces the cost of life-saving insulin to $100 for a 30-day supply and creates a task force to find a long-term solution to the price increase (insulin has gone up 500% over the last decade). Click here to read a recent story by The Inlander about my son and his struggle with Type 1 diabetes.
Law enforcement award
I am extremely humbled and proud to be named the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs 2019 Legislator of the Year. In their letter to me, the group said:
“Your support of the specific and unique job of first responders is valued. Having served as a peace officer yourself you have an important perspective on our issues. Your testimony on the floor of the House regarding PTSD was compelling and deeply appreciated. We value your open door and your purposeful contact with our leadership and government relations staff to check-in on key issues related to our mission. WACOPS only asks the Legislature for those things that we believe are essential to protect our members. Your recognition of that, respect of our role, and support of our mission makes you worthy of this coveted honor.”
I have spoken with many of you from back home and you have consistently shown your support for our law enforcement officers. My acceptance of this award is a reflection of the value that our local communities place on the men and women in blue. I know you honor and appreciate them, and so do I.
While the original high-capacity magazine ban bill died in the House this week, a new one was introduced today. House Bill 2947 contains an extremely long title – one of the longest we've seen – to make it narrow in scope, thus making it more difficult to amend. It also adds a buy-back program, likely making it NTIB (necessary to implement the budget) so it won't be subject to normal cutoff rules. This bit of gamesmanship by the majority party on this particular issue is not surprising. We have a governor and state attorney general who desperately want to limit our Second Amendment rights. I'll keep you posted.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in the state House of Representatives.