Dear Friends and Neighbors,
One year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world as we knew it. For the past year, we've managed “Stay Home Stay Safe” orders when our state was completely shut down. We've watched business after business close their doors, some to never reopen again. We've supported and struggled alongside our children as they learn to navigate the challenges of remote and distance learning while their schools remained closed. We remain frustrated that Gov. Jay Inslee has not given anyone the guidance we all deserve on what Phase 3 of reopening our state looks like.
Republicans made a promise to you this legislative session. We would continue to bring forward real solutions that strengthen the Washington state economy and support each and every Washingtonian. In this update, I will talk about two real solutions we've introduced to keep our promise to you.
On Thursday, March 4, House and Senate Republicans introduced: Open Safe, Open Now: The Republican Plan for Phase 3 and Beyond. This is a simple, practical, and consistent plan that respects local control and trusts the people of Washington state to do the right thing. This plan abandons the governor's failed regional approach, which hasn't been effective since day one and has created disparities.
I am confident individuals, families, schools, businesses, and churches now know how to take proper precautions to help in reopening our state safely.
It is time:
- For the Legislature to lead and make policy decisions.
- To get students back to school, sports, and activities.
- To get people back to work.
- To help those in crisis, including students, families, and businesses.
- To end the isolation of our children and seniors.
- To understand the larger context of public health – including mental health.
- To trust Washingtonians with their health and safety.
The Republican Open Safe, Open Now plan would:
Implement Phase 3 immediately.
- Students would return to the classroom.
- All children in grades K-12 would immediately return to the classroom for in-person instruction.
- School districts would implement safety protocols provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health have said distancing in schools should be reduced from six feet to three feet.
- Businesses would reopen and everyone could go back to work.
- Hospitality businesses and public venues statewide, such as restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and other entertainment venues, open to 50% capacity.
- Bars and restaurants would stop serving alcohol and close at midnight.
- State parks and other state agencies whose function is tourism/recreation would resume bookings for day-use and overnight facilities at 50% capacity.
- Indoor weddings and indoor religious services would open to 50% capacity.
- Professional services would open to 50% capacity
If Phase 3 is successful, and no further spikes occur within a three-week timeframe, the state would then move to Phase 4.
- Washington state would be 100% open.
- After a county has operated at Phase 3 for three weeks with no significant spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, all activities return to 100% capacity.
- Bars and restaurants would return to serving alcohol until 2 a.m.
I urge you to contact the governor's office and demand that he put this plan into action right now! It's time for him to LISTEN and TRUST the people of Washington state.
Real Opportunities for all Washingtonians
As I mentioned above, you, the people of this great district and state, have complied with everything have been resilient in the state's pandemic's response. First, I want to say THANK YOU. Please click on the photo below for a quick video message from me to you.
Second, because of your hard-work, state revenue collections are holding steady and higher than we thought they'd be. We'll have a better picture of where we currently stand in a couple weeks when the next revenue forecast is released.
House Republicans continue to promise to fight against new or increased taxes by practicing fiscal responsibility.
In keeping with our promise, we have introduced a 2021-23 operating budget proposal. The Real Opportunities for all Washingtonians framework does not raise taxes on anyone or anything and does not cut vital services or programs. It's a win-win real solution.
This framework includes more than $6.2 billion in savings, many of which were recommended by state agencies as part of their budget evaluation exercise directed by the governor in 2020.
This framework appropriates money from the state's rainy-day fund for a series of onetime, COVID-related expenses, it's able to provide significant relief for working Washingtonians.
Other highlights of this framework include $300 stipends to low-income families to defray the costs of remote learning; grants for childcare providers; copay assistance for families; and a sales tax exemption for necessities, like prepared food and diapers.
For the first time in its 12-year history, this framework would fund the Working Families Tax Credit. Enacting this effective program would put money directly in the pockets of hardworking, low-income people across our state.
And, instead of raising taxes, this framework actually reduces them by $445 million. In a time when our economy is fragile and post-COVID recovery needs to be our main priority, we need a fiscally responsible, smart, and sustainable budget. House Republicans have kept their promise and provided a commonsense plan.
We are showing that an operating budget framework can be developed earlier in the legislative session than what state lawmakers have come to accept. We believe that when it's done this way, we can offer more transparency and the opportunity for all state lawmakers, stakeholders, and you – the public – to be part of the legislative process.
Income tax on capital gains and low-carbon fuel standard mandate
Even though our state revenue collections remain steady, and more federal stimulus money is expected soon, Democrats continue their efforts to raise taxes. Here are two major taxes that are still alive this session. This should concern every Washingtonian.
Income tax on capital gains
Democrats continue to push for an income tax on capital gains. This year it comes to us in the form of Senate Bill 5096. Most believe this will just be a tax on the wealthy. That's a false claim. This policy states this will be the first step to a graduated statewide income tax.
It's plain and simple.
- Unnecessary. The Legislature can fund state priorities, as House Republicans proved, without raising taxes on anyone.
- Unpopular and anti-democracy. You – the voters of this state – have said time and time again you don't want this tax. Yet, the voice of the people continues to be silenced and policies and taxes such as this continue to be brought up.
- Unconstitutional. This new tax would likely be challenged and struck down by the courts.
I, along with my fellow Republican colleagues, will continue to fight against this tax.
Low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) mandate
Democrats are back with their low-carbon fuel standard mandate. This policy, if enacted, would raise the price of gas and consumer goods. It's regressive and puts more financial burdens on those who can least afford it. In a time when families continue to struggle, the last thing that's needed is a tax on fuel and common goods and services.
This policy is a breach of public trust. Voters have said no to carbon pricing. It's also a breach of the bipartisan legislative agreement as part of the Connecting Washington transportation package.
This policy is a hidden gas tax to pay for bureaucratic-controlled environmental schemes that are often produced outside of Washington state and would not generate any new revenue for transportation infrastructure in our state.
Republicans remained opposed to House Bill 1091. It passed the House chamber during recent virtual floor action with a vote of 52-46.
Save the date | 8th District Virtual Town Hall
Where I would rather hold this event in-person and in-district, my seatmates and I will be hosting a virtual town hall on Saturday, March 20 at 2:00 p.m. and would like to invite everyone to attend.
You do need to register to participate in the event. You can do so by clicking here. If you'd like to submit a question before the event, there is a place to submit it on the registration form.
If you have any questions, or need help registering, please contact my legislative assistant, LJ Rohrer. She's happy to assist you.
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 don't always agree on everything all the time, but please know, I still value hearing from you! I enjoy our respectful dialogues, even when we don't 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!