Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are in week four of the 60-day legislative session. Our first major deadline of the session was on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the house-of-origin policy cutoff. This means any policy bills must be passed out of their policy committees in the chamber (House or Senate) where they were introduced, or they are likely “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are exempt. Monday, Feb. 5, (today) is the fiscal committee cutoff. These deadlines keep the legislative process moving.
Six initiatives before the Legislature
In my last email update, I mentioned two initiatives that had been certified by the Secretary of State’s office. I can now tell you, all six initiatives have been certified and are before the Legislature for consideration. Here is a brief breakdown:
- Initiative 2113 would restore the ability of law enforcement officers to engage in vehicular pursuit.
- Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, also known as the state’s new carbon tax program.
- Initiative 2081 would establish a parental bill of rights, so parents would have authority over their child’s school and medical records.
- Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains income tax.
- Initiative 2111 would prohibit personal income taxes in Washington state.
- Initiative 2124 would allow workers to opt-out of the Washington Cares program and long-term care payroll tax.
After each initiative was certified, House Republican leadership made a motion on the floor of the House of Representatives that would allow a public hearing to be held promptly in the policy committee in which the bill was referred. Unfortunately, House Democrats voted each motion down on a party-line vote.
House Republicans have pointed out the Washington State Constitution defines the priority given to initiatives in the legislative process. It explicitly states that initiative measures, whether certified or provisionally certified, “shall take precedence over all other measures in the legislature, excluding appropriation bills.“
The Legislature does have time to act on the initiatives, but the majority Democrats have not given any indication they plan to do so at this point. If no action is taken, the initiatives will be on the November ballot for the voters to decide. If the Legislature does take action on the initiative before the end of session, it would become law without a vote of the people. We could also propose a different version, and both measures would go before the voters in November.
It appears at this time, all the initiatives will be on the ballot this fall, and voters will get their say.
Questioning the Department of Ecology
The majority party is pushing changes to Washington’s Climate Commitment Act to make it more compatible with California and Quebec’s linked cap-and-invest carbon market. House Bill 2201, or the Carbon Market Linkage bill, recently came through the House Appropriations Committee. I had a question for Department of Ecology staff, given the lack of confidence the agricultural industry has in the agency. Click the photo below to watch the exchange.
Washington state dealing with a catalog of crises
As I mentioned in my last email update, House Republican priorities continue to be addressing the numerous crises facing our state. I shared statistics and facts of where our state is headed, along with Republican solutions. For a breakdown check out the short video below.
I want to thank everyone who participated in the survey that was in the pre-session mailer Sen. Nikki Torres, Rep. Bruce Chandler, and I sent out. We asked you to rank several issues in order of importance that the Legislature should address. Below is the list of the highest ranked to the lowest selected by those of who responded:
- Preventing new and higher taxes.
- Fighting hard drug use and drug-related crime.
- Increasing the number of police.
- Lowering gas prices.
- Supporting parents’ rights in health and education decisions of minor children.
- Protecting farmers, ranchers and fruit growers from dam breaching and anti-agriculture regulations.
- Further reducing learning loss in K-12 education.
- Repealing and/or replacing the payroll tax to fund the problematic long-term care program.
- Reducing homelessness.
The responses were very balanced (see chart below). Public safety continues to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind. More than 41% of respondents had “increasing the number of police” and “fighting hard drug use and drug-related crime” in their top three. However, affordability issues are also worrisome as more than 47% put “preventing new and higher taxes” in their top three rankings.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments on issues we are facing this legislative session, or related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Below are helpful links for following the session.
- Sign-up for The Week Ahead | A weekly compilation from House Republicans featuring crucial committee hearings, with links and other details for your reference.
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A weekday summary of online news stories from across the state.
- Bookmark the Washington State Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
It is an honor to serve the great 15th District!