Friends and Neighbors,
Last week, we hit the midpoint of the 105-day legislative session. And on Wednesday, the Legislature reached house of origin cutoff — which concluded several long days of voting on bills. This deadline basically means bills needed to pass out of their original chamber or they are considered “dead” for the legislative session, with some exceptions.
Thursday, we resumed committee work considering bills from the opposite chamber. So in the House, we are now considering bills passed by the Senate. As I sit on two fiscal committees, we are also considering House bills relating to revenues or budgets. You can learn more about what's happening in House committees by going to this publication which my caucus calls “The Week Ahead.”
The good, the bad, and the unfinished business
Over the last two weeks, the House passed several bills with strong support from Republicans and Democrats. In fact, most legislation passes with broad, bipartisan votes. Whenever I vote on an amendment or bill, I know it is important to someone. I was happy to support some great measures relating to workforce issues, housing, auto theft, and wildfire prevention and response — to name a few. I expect to support other important bills in the last half of the legislative session.
The House also passed some bills on more partisan, or party-line, votes. I voted against measures that would add another layer to our Growth Management Act, chip away at 2nd Amendment rights, and can best be described as prioritizing criminals over victims. I also thought the House missed opportunities to strengthen legislation for funding special education and expanding access to dual credit programs.
Although no bill is ever truly dead until the legislative session ends, I was pleased to see other legislation I oppose die at house of origin cutoff. Some of those which died are bills that could result in higher property taxes, take us in the wrong direction on addressing our housing crisis, and further limit and send the wrong message to the men and women who serve and protect our communities in law enforcement.
Lastly, I am disappointed that the majority party does not appear to be interested in emergency powers reform and broad-based tax relief (more on this below). The majority party also failed to advance bipartisan vehicular pursuit legislation — House Bill 1363 (I am a co-sponsor) — despite having 20 sponsors from their majority. In a rare motion, House Republicans attempted to bring this measure to the House floor for a vote on Wednesday, but the House majority blocked that effort.
The good news is that the Senate narrowly passed companion legislation — Senate Bill 5352 — on Wednesday. Our Senator from the 20th District, Sen. John Braun, called it “a half-step in the right direction.” I look forward to this continued debate in the House and more progress on restoring law enforcement's ability to apprehend criminals. We must restore law enforcement's ability to pursue suspects.
Update on my legislation
- House Joint Memorial 4001 would request that the Washington State Transportation Commission commence proceedings to designate a section of State Route 411 in Cowlitz County as the “Cowlitz County Deputy Sheriff Justin DeRosier Memorial Highway.” Watch my House floor speech here.
- House Bill 1491 would prohibit an employer from searching an employee's vehicle in the employer's parking areas.
Aspects of other bills were incorporated into other members' bills and passed as well. One would help protect property tax relief program eligibility for seniors, veterans, and disabled persons.
Invitation to Zoom/virtual town hall
I have hosted traditional and telephone town halls with my seatmates over the years. These great events allow us to share what's happening in the Legislature while taking questions from those we represent.
I would like to invite you to another type of town hall, a Zoom/virtual town hall, that I will be hosting with Rep. Peter Abbarno and Sen. John Braun on Monday, March 20, from 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Here's how it will work: Simply go to this link, enter your name, email address, city, ZIP code and state, click on “Register,” and you will be registered for the webinar. You will receive an email from one of our staff members confirming your registration and providing you with the link for the event. It sounds like a lot, but it's pretty simple. Once in the webinar, you are welcome to listen in on the discussion and ask questions if you'd like.
A look ahead
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council releases its revenue forecast on March 20. This report on the state's tax collections will help inform budget writers as they develop proposals for the two-year operating budget. The majority party in the House and Senate will release their proposals a week or so after the revenue forecast and reveal their priorities for state spending.
I am a long-time member of this council. I anticipate the revenue forecast will again show that our state tax collections are strong, but there is some economic uncertainty ahead. I continue to believe the majority party missed an opportunity last year to provide broad-based tax relief with a large budget surplus. While that opportunity was missed, I think there is still an opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief. As I mentioned in previous email updates, I have introduced measures to provide sales tax relief and property tax relief. The state has received so much due to higher home prices and higher prices on consumer products – we should not be receiving more benefits when it is further burdening those who are already struggling under higher prices.
Staying in touch
Please contact me if you ever have any questions or ideas to pass along. I welcome your thoughts.