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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Things are moving fast in Olympia. It's difficult to believe we've reached the halfway mark of the 60-day legislative session. Last Thursday, Feb. 3 was policy cut off, our first major deadline. And Monday, Feb. 7, was fiscal cutoff. Now that these deadlines have passed, unless necessary to implement the budget, both fiscal and policy bills that have not been approved by their respective committees in the chamber they originated are “dead” for the session.
13th District Virtual Town Hall Meeting | Thursday, Feb. 17, starting at 6 p.m.
For the past few weeks, lawmakers have been working hard to analyze hundreds of public policy bills. With a couple of session deadlines already behind us, it's a good time to share insights on the debates and decisions happening at the state Capitol.
That's why, along with Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, and Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, I'm co-hosting a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 17, starting at 6 p.m.
Preregistration is required for this Zoom-hosted event. During the hour-long meeting, we will answer questions and discuss some of the public policy topics being considered in Olympia. Constituents may also submit written questions during the registration process.
What: 13th District Virtual Town Hall Meeting
When: Thursday, Feb. 17, starting at 6 p.m.
Where: Click here to register.
**After registering, a confirmation email will be sent about joining the webinar. Space is limited, so it is best to register early.**
Meaningful Tax Relief
The lack of serious consideration of meaningful tax relief for struggling Washingtonians this session astounds me. State lawmakers started the legislative session with a significant budget surplus, healthy reserves, and unspent federal stimulus funds. And yet, no relief is being offered to taxpayers.
I was excited to see Democrats introduce legislation, Senate Bill 5932, at the start of the 2022 session that would reduce the state sales tax. That simple change would have given Washingtonians about $2 billion in tax relief. But my excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the bill was not given a public hearing.
Other good tax relief proposals submitted by Republicans were also left to linger and die, including lowering property taxes, expanding the Working Families Tax Credit, alleviating consumer inflation, and repealing or replacing the long-term care and payroll tax. None of these proposals got a public hearing in committee.
Emergency Powers Reform
Despite the disappointments listed above, there is good news on emergency powers reform. For months now, both parties have been asking for a better system of checks and balances during a long-lasting state of emergency, like the pandemic. The Legislature is currently considering two bills to reform the scope and authority of the executive branch during a declared state of emergency: House Bill 1772 and Senate Bill 5909.
A public hearing was held on Jan. 31 on House Bill 1772. More than 5,200 citizens registered their support for this bill, which would limit the executive branch's authority to 60-days during a declared state of emergency. If more time was needed, the Legislature could add on another 60-days, and it could do that as many times as needed.
Although House Bill 1772 did not get a vote in committee, widespread support of the proposal seems to have caused the advance of another emergency powers reform bill — Senate Bill 5909. Although not as robust, the proposal would still make significant changes. It places a 90-day check on a state of emergency proclamation unless otherwise approved by House and Senate leadership. Senate Bill 5909 was approved in committee and should be coming to the full Senate for a vote soon.
Between the two bills, more than 10,000 Washingtonians signed up to testify in favor of this change. The outpouring of support shows the public's desire to see serious reform put in place. Although the governor has been quoted as saying he is not “really excited about it” it's my hope that an emergency powers reform bill reaches his desk for signature before the end of this session.
Legislative update video
You can learn more about the activities and actions of the Legislature by watching my bi-weekly video update. In this week's recording, I discuss a public safety bill, House Bill 1656, that did not make it through the recent deadlines, moving the dial on emergency powers reform, and the need for meaningful tax relief, among other legislative topics.
Click here or below to watch:
Contact my office
Please contact my office if you have questions, comments or suggestions about the upcoming 13th District virtual town hall meeting and/or other state government-related matters. My contact information is below.
Also, sign up for text alerts from Washington House Republicans. This new service is a great way to stay informed about discussions taking place in Olympia.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving you and the citizens of the 13th Legislative District!
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7808 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000