Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to take this opportunity to check-in with everyone as we continue to maneuver through these challenging times. I hope and pray that you and your family are doing well. I want to also say thank you to everyone who continues to reach out to my office with your questions, concerns, and comments. I encourage you to keep it up!
We are in week four, and there is still a long way to go in this 105-day session. Your opinion and thoughts matter to me. I will do my best to respond to you and provide you with the information and resources you need.
Opening Washington state NOW!
I am very disappointed that not a single region in Eastern Washington was considered as part of the Phase 2 reopening's recently announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee. Once again, there seems to be a divide from the east and west sides of our state.
There are businesses throughout our district who have had their doors closed since March. It is unacceptable. And, now to have our region completely overlooked is ridiculous. Each and every one of you has done your part to slow the spread of this virus, while keeping yourselves, your family, and our communities safe. We need to open our entire state now! You can click on the photo below to watch my recent video update on this topic.
My Republican colleagues and I continue to put real solutions on the table to bring relief to the people of Washington state. Our policies are consistent for the entire state, not picking and choosing which region will benefit and which ones will not.
Here are some bills we have introduced that would safely reopen our entire state, while offering relief to those who need it most.
House Bill 1334: REAL Recovery for Washington Act. This bill would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and expand COVID testing and vaccine administration.
House Bill 1321 / Senate Bill 5114: Safely reopening Washington state. Over 1600 people signed in to provide verbal and/or written testimony on this bill. I want to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you that signed in to let your voices be heard. I encourage you to continue testifying on the bills that mean the most to you, your family, and your businesses. For more information on how to remotely testify, click here.
House Bill 1170: Building economic strength through manufacturing. This bill was introduced by my seatmate, Rep. Matt Boehnke. It seeks to establish a statewide goal to consistently have the highest share of workforce involved in manufacturing and research and development (R&D) occupations of any other state.
House Bill 1228: Ending the statewide eviction moratorium and providing relief to landlords and tenants.
On Friday, Jan 22, we passed a bipartisan bill – House Bill 1095 – to bring relief to all the small businesses across our state who continue to suffer under the shadow of the pandemic. This bill seeks to provide B&O, public utilities, and retail sales tax exemptions for a qualifying grant received on or after Feb. 29, 2020, that is related to a national or state emergency proclamation. I voted yes.
On Monday, Feb. 1, we had our first good virtual floor debate of the 2021 session. House Bill 1368 is one of many bills responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions. This bill in particular supports the use of federal funding. This bill is too little, too late, for too many. We need bolder solutions to provide real relief for our struggling families, communities, and businesses. We had the opportunity, through six amendments we proposed, to make a good bill better. Our amendments would have: safely reopened schools, provided assistance to students who have fallen behind, provided more rental and utility assistance, helped childcare providers, and supported small businesses. The majority party struck down all our amendments but one. For these reasons, I, along with many of my Republican colleagues, had to be a reluctant no on this bill.
Budget and taxes
While we are working hard to bring you relief, the Democrat-lead Legislature is hard at work trying to raise your taxes. It is extremely troubling to me that in a time when our state is barely on the brink of recovery from COVID-19, several proposals to raise your taxes and increase your cost of living have already been introduced. Some of these proposals include:
Increasing the price of gas and diesel by almost $1 a gallon. House Democrats have introduced a massive $26 billion transportation package that includes an 18-cent gas tax increase, and a 21-cent diesel tax increase, over the next two years, plus a fee on carbon emissions, bringing the price of a gallon of gasoline up by almost $1. If this proposal were to pass, it would give Washington state the highest gas tax in the nation. Raising transportation costs will cut deeper into the pockets of our district more so than it will an urban area like Seattle. A bill has not been introduced yet, but we believe one is forthcoming. I will fight against this proposal.
Low-carbon fuel standard. House Bill 1091 would enact a low-carbon fuel standard and authorize the state Department of Ecology to create a clean fuels program, which could eventually increase the cost of gas by 57-cents per gallon and diesel by 63-cents per gallon. This proposal has been brought forward by House Democrats for several years but has never made it through the Legislative process. I will fight against this policy.
Capital gains income tax. Democrats have pushed for a state graduated capital gains income tax several times over the years. This year, the proposal is back as Senate Bill 5096. This bill would impose a 9% income tax on capital gains of $25,000 or greater. Not only is a capital gains tax prohibited by our state's constitution – and likely to be challenged legally if passed – it is a widely unpredictable way to collect revenue. I will fight against this proposal.
Although the pandemic caused a worrisome decline in tax revenue early on, the forecast continues to improve. Our economy is slowly recovering as state tax collections continue to increase year-by-year. What this means is our budget writers on the Appropriations, Transportation, and Capital Budget Committees have adequate numbers to work within our means and existing revenue. There is no need to massively increase taxes right now.
In my next e-newsletter
I will update you on the many police reform bills that have been heard in the House Public Safety Committee, and the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, and what their status in the legislative process. We need real solutions when it comes to police reform rather than taking away the necessary tools law enforcement uses to keep us and our communities safe every day. I will also update you on some gun legislation that has been introduced. If there are any bills, topics, or issues that are before the Legislature that you would like more information about, and that I can cover in one of these updates, please contact my office and let me know.
I know it continues to be challenging that we cannot meet in person, but please do not be discouraged and continue to reach out to my office for whatever you need.
You may contact my Legislative Assistant, LJ Rohrer, with anything you need. She is happy to help. Our office contact information is at the bottom of this email.
I also encourage you to bookmark the following links. These are good resources to keep you up-to-date and to stay informed about your state government.
- My legislative website. Here you will find my contact information, news releases, archived email updates, and more.
- My legislative Facebook page.
- Washington State House Republicans website.
- TVW. The state's own version of C-SPAN. This is where you can watch all the committee and floor action.
- The Washington State Ledger. This is our legislative news aggregator with information related to state government, public policy, and the legislative process.
- Washington State Legislature website. Here you will find committee and floor schedules, bill information, and how you can testify and/or provide input on a bill.
Stay in touch!
Throughout the legislative session, I hope you will take the time to call or email me. I welcome your thoughts and concerns on issues before the Legislature. I look forward to working with you and for YOU!
I know all of us do not always agree on everything all the time, but please know, I still value hearing from you! I enjoy our respectful dialogues, even when we do not agree on the issue.
Thank you again for the opportunity and the honor to serve you, your family, and our communities as your State Representative.
May God richly bless you all!