Friends and Neighbors,
This week began with tragic news of the death of Cowlitz County Sheriff's Deputy Justin DeRosier, who was shot and killed late on Saturday night in Kalama. Law enforcement acted quickly to find and stop the alleged shooter a night later. Both incidents took place within a couple miles of many rural homeowners.
Deputy DeRosier, who had deep local roots, leaves behind a wife and five-month old daughter. From all accounts, he was a great man and beloved member of his community. That community now mourns losing him.
Deputy DeRosier is a hero in every sense of the word. Everyone should always appreciate what our law enforcement officials do to protect our families and communities on a daily basis. Especially at times like this – when an officer makes the ultimate sacrifice for our safety. Too often we forget that our officers face danger every day in their work to keep us safe, whether they stop a speeder or take a drunk driver off the road. Many of their actions help protect our safety – it is just more evident when we lose an officer.
I'm sure more details will come to light in the days ahead. For now, our community must rally around Deputy DeRosier's family and law enforcement brothers and sisters. They need us.
The House chamber held a moment of silence to acknowledge Deputy DeRosier on Monday morning. That afternoon, I asked for a point of personal privilege on the House floor to share my condolences and thoughts. You can watch my remarks here.
House floor action
The House spent all of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday voting primarily on Senate bills. Wednesday, at 5:00 p.m., was opposite chamber cutoff. Several important, bipartisan bills passed – including omnibus opioid legislation. Unfortunately, there were also some bad measures that passed – including one that could result in the loss of union, family-wage jobs and unnecessary regulatory burdens on our rail and oil industries. You can watch some of our House Republican floor speeches, including mine, at this link.
Repeal of the death penalty
In February 2014, Gov. Inslee announced a capital punishment moratorium. Last October, the state Supreme Court ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional under Article I Section 14 of the state constitution, largely due to the court's finding that it is applied in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.
The high-profile piece of legislation to repeal the death penalty in our state did not come to the House floor, despite passing the Senate earlier in the legislative session.
House Finance Committee
The biggest responsibilities left for state lawmakers in the last nine days of the legislative session are to pass the three state budgets – operating, capital and transportation. For the operating budget, the House and Senate Democrats must determine how much they want to spend, then they will determine what taxes they want to raise or create to reach this spending level, and finally agree on how that money will be spent. They had significant differences in their initial budget proposals – including spending and new tax levels – so we will see what levels they settle on.
The House Finance Committee is where the debate on taxes originates. Any bill dealing with new revenue begins here. As the ranking Republican on this committee, I have had a front-row seat to this debate. On Friday, the House Democrats revealed their intentions on new taxes in this committee by passing three measures: House Bills 2156, 2157 and 2158. The bills, collectively, would increase taxes by $4.5 billion over the next four years through:
- Creating a new capital gains income tax.
- Imposing a business and occupation (B&O) surcharge on the income from various services.
- Creating a new graduated real estate excise tax.
- Changing the nonresidential retail sales tax exemption to an annual remittance.
My Republican colleagues and I voted against all three bills, which now await House floor action next week. You can watch today's committee hearing at this TVW link. You can also read the statement I sent to the media on my website. Please stay tuned.
In my next communication, I plan to have updates on the operating, transportation and capital budgets for you. A lot of work remains to be done, but there is no excuse for the Legislature to take more than the allotted 105 days to finish its work. A special session is not necessary – especially in a year that we have so much additional tax revenue.
As we head into the last week of the legislative session, your comments, concerns and questions are appreciated. Please feel free to contact me any time – at (360) 786-7990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a happy Easter.