Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2021 legislative session is a remote one with committee testimony, floor debates and voting all being done remotely, for the most part. There are only a couple staffers and a handful of legislators in Olympia as a precaution against the coronavirus. It's not what I want; it's not what my fellow House Republicans want. But the majority party voted the first day of session on rules that sent everyone home except a few in senior leadership positions and those without reliable internet. As my colleagues elected me to another term as Floor Leader for the House Republican Caucus, I'll spend the majority of the session in Olympia.
Staying involved in the legislative process…
With the legislative session being done remotely it's more important than ever to stay involved in the legislative process and allow your voice to be heard. Last year's test run of remote testimony in the House for those of us in Eastern Washington has been greatly expanded to include every committee! You are the most effective when you participate in a committee hearing, either through written comments or online testimony. To testify remotely in the House, click here. To testify remotely in the Senate, click here.
If you can't testify in committee, your written comments on a bill are shared with ALL committee members 24 hours prior to each committee. This can be extremely effective as you are not just communicating with the legislators from your district but ALL legislators on that committee!
In addition, every committee meeting and floor session will be broadcast on TVW. Here are other helpful resources to help you stay involved and in the know:
- Washington State Legislature | https://leg.wa.gov/
- How a bill becomes a law | https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Bill2Law.aspx
- Accessing the Legislature remotely | https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Documents/2020/Accessing%20the%20Legislature%20remotely.pdf
- The Ledger – A legislative news aggregator | https://waledger.houserepublicans.wa.gov/
- Read and sign up for The Capitol Buzz | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/stay-connected/capitol-buzz/
- Our priorities | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/our-priorities/
- Republican letters to Gov. Jay Inslee | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/2020/05/22/republican-letters-to-gov-jay-inslee/
- Legislature's 'Four Corners' square off on state challenges in 2021 (op-eds from four caucus leaders) | https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/legislatures-four-corners-square-off-on-state-challenges/
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/coronavirus/
House Democrats want to add $1 per gallon to the price of gas…and more
Can your family budget afford to pay $1 per gallon more each time you go to the pump? That's what the majority party in Olympia proposed last week. Their 18 cent gas tax increase, coupled with their 'carbon tax' scheme, would result in all of us paying $15-20 more each time we fill up. But their plan doesn't stop there. The new gas tax increases (including diesel) will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) so it will continue to go up with NO LEGISLATIVE or CITIZEN INPUT if it passes as-is! They've also included a 50% increase in license plate fees and increases to truck license fees, personal trailer fees, trip permit fees, quick title fees, RV fees and car rental fees. Their plan would increase state spending by $26 billion over the next 16 years, yet would still leave billions in backlogged maintenance and preservation projects.
Here is what the media is saying:
- Washington House Democrats propose massive gas and carbon tax (KXLY)
- Proposal could make Washington state's gas tax highest in US (KING TV)
- Gas taxes and fees could reach $1 per gallon under new Washington state transportation proposal (The Seattle Times)
- Democratic lawmakers propose massive gas tax increase to fund transportation (MyNorthwest)
- Plan to raise gas taxes (KIRO TV)
When they announce the committee hearing for their tax increases – if there is a committee hearing – I'll send out another email so that you know and can let your voice be heard.
Gov. Inslee's 'emergency orders': Legislature cedes oversight authority…
In perhaps an indicator of things to come, the first bill passed by the majority party in Olympia was Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402. All House Republicans and three Democrats voted against it. The resolution takes 26 of the governor's emergency declarations and bundles them up and keeps them active until the governor announces that the emergency is over.
Whether or not you agree with the governor's actions to date (and many of us do NOT), we should all remember that we have three branches of government and separation of powers (checks and balances) for a reason. When the governor's first emergency orders went in to place, the Legislature was wrapping up the 2020 legislative session last spring and heading home for the interim. Now that we're once again in session – even a remote one – many of us were looking forward to debating and analyzing the need and effectiveness of some of Inslee's orders.
Instead, Democrats in the state House and Senate gave the governor more power than ever while ceding our legislative oversight and authority, silencing the voices of the millions of citizens we in the minority party represent. This is not good governance and sets a dangerous precedent.
REAL Recovery for Washington Act…
I am cosponsoring legislation to provide immediate financial support for struggling families and small businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and support public health. House Bill 1334, known as the REAL Recovery for Washington Act, would offer expanded small business grants of up to $75,000, help small businesses avoid skyrocketing unemployment insurance tax rates, provide temporary B&O tax relief, assist families with childcare expenses, and offer a 'recovery rebate' to working families to offset high sales tax burden for essential items. All without new or increased taxes! You can read more here.
I am grateful that you once again elected me to work on your behalf in the state House. It is an honor that I do not take lightly. Please know that while we may not agree on every issue, my promise to you is that no one will work harder to bring real solutions to the many issues we face back home. If I can be of assistance to you or if you have thoughts on legislation, please let me know. My office is here to serve you.