Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached the house of origin cutoff. House bills have been sent to the Senate and we start back into committee work and consider bills passed by the opposite chamber. There are a number of issues I want to update you on and let you know about an upcoming town hall event. Please let me know if you have any questions about this email update or other legislative issues.
Virtual Town Hall
Mark your calendar and be sure to join Rep. Mike Steele and me, on Saturday, Feb. 19 for a Virtual Town Hall meeting.
We will provide an update of the 2022 legislative session and then take your questions. You can also submit written questions during the registration process. The event will be held from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. The remote event will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Preregistration is required by going to https://bit.ly/3rWGqIa. After registering, a confirmation email will be sent about joining the webinar. Space is limited, so register early.
Long-term care tax and program delayed, not fixed
In my last email update, I mentioned we were considering legislation to address the long-term care payroll tax and program, also known as the WA Cares Fund. Since then, two bills were passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor. House Bill 1732 delays the tax and program 18 months, but does not provide any fixes. While I would have preferred Rep. Drew Stokesbary's option, House Bill 1913, which would have repealed the long-term care mandate and replaced it with an affordable and optional alternative, I did vote for House Bill 1732. My hope is we will be able to address some of the concerns in the next 18 months. The other bill passed and signed into law by the governor, House Bill 1733, offers some additional exemptions to the program.
Progress on emergency powers?
Legislation on emergency powers is gaining some traction. Senate Bill 5909 would allow the Speaker of the House, the House minority leader, and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate to end a state of emergency (SOE) if the Legislature is not in session and it has been more than 90 days since the governor's declaration. It would also allow legislative leaders to end the governor's prohibitive orders if the Legislature is not in session. It does not go as far as I would like, but it is a start. It was voted out of the Senate on Tuesday.
Washington has been in a SOE for more than 715 days. The Legislature needs to address this issue. Check out this web page that highlights our efforts on this issue.
Majority party's transportation package
I have some major concerns with the proposal. First, it was partisan. Republicans were left out of the negotiating process. Other concerns include:
- It would increase fees by as much as $2.3 billion on things such as car/motorcycle license plates and driver's licenses.
- It would only allocate $3 billion for maintenance and preservation. The Washington State Department of Transportation shared with the House Transportation Committee that $10 billion over 10 years is needed.
- It is heavy on transit as vehicle owners and drivers would pay more for non-driver related modes of transportation.
- Under this proposal, only electric vehicles may be purchased, sold, or registered in Washington state after vehicle model year 2030.
Finally, there is very little money in the proposal for North Central Washington, or the eastern part of the state for that matter.
I have talked about the Republican plan we unveiled before session. To review it, click here. The majority was aware of our plan and could have worked with us on a bipartisan proposal.
Also, I recently penned an opinion-editorial with assistant ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, on prioritizing and funding transportation. To read it click “Fiscal responsibility and addressing transportation needs can co-exist.”
I am having conversations with transportation leaders to inquire about possible amendments or changes to the plan and allowing some input from our side of the aisle.
New communication tool and stay in touch
You can now receive the latest news and information from the Legislature directly to your cell phone, via the House Republicans' new text alert system. Just click here or on the image below to sign up.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this email update or issues before us this legislative session. I appreciate your input and feedback on the issues impacting our state and communities.
It is an honor to serve the 12th District in the state House of Representatives. I look forward to visiting with you on Saturday.