Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our work for another legislative session concluded on April 25. Let me tell you, it was one of the most intense, and hardest fought, sessions in recent history. I want to thank everyone for their patience as we learned to navigate our work in the people's House completely virtually. It was a challenge and I pray for the times we will be able to do our work in-person again.
As the minority party, we worked across the virtual aisle with our Democrat colleagues by offering real solutions to the policies they brought forward. We were successful in some areas by making policies better, or by stopping bad policy altogether. We were not so successful in other areas. In this legislative update, I will give you my thoughts on the historic 2021 legislative session.
But first, please mark your calendars for our 8th District post-session virtual town hall. My seatmates – Sen. Sharon Brown and Rep. Matt Boehnke – and I will be hosting this virtual Zoom event on Monday, May 24th at 6:00 p.m. and will last for 90-minutes. This is a great opportunity for us to discuss the 2021 legislative session with you and answer any questions you might have. You do need to register for the event. You can do so by clicking here, by visiting my website RepresentativeBradKlippert.com and clicking on the drop-down option, or by clicking on the graphic below. I look forward to our time together!
Honoring Washington state's law enforcement officers
I had the honor and privilege to sponsor bipartisan House Resolution 4628 in honor of our brave men and women of law enforcement across our great Washington state.
This resolution was passed off the virtual House floor on April 12. I will personally deliver a resolution to each and every law enforcement agency throughout the 8th District to say “thank you for all you do” in person.
Governor signs bipartisan social worker license bill
This session, I sponsored bipartisan House Bill (HB) 1007 that will help social workers across Washington state complete the required supervision hours needed to obtain their license. Distance supervision will allow people across the state, especially in our rural areas, to connect with supervisors who otherwise might have been too far away. The pandemic highlighted the problem with distance learning and this update to the current statute will allow social workers to get the supervision they need to obtain their license.
Governor Jay Inslee signed my bill into law, and it will go into effect later this year.
Two fiscally responsible bipartisan budgets | transportation and capital
The final 2021-23 transportation budget appropriates $11.8 billion to fund essential infrastructure projects across the state, including maintenance and preservation of current transportation systems, the Washington State Ferry system, the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Washington State Patrol, and other state transportation agencies. The 8th District will receive $144 million in funding for transportation projects. For more information on the transportation budget and a list of projects, please visit http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2021/ht2123Bien.asp
The final 2021-23 capital budget appropriates $6.3 billion, allocates funding for critical infrastructure improvements including schools, public buildings, low-income housing, water infrastructure, state parks, and other community projects. The 8th District received $7 million for local community-based projects. For more information on the capital budget and projects, please visit http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2021/hc2123Bien.asp.
I proudly supported both of these budgets.
There are two major pieces of police reform legislation from the 2021 session that were signed into law: House Bills 1054 and 1310.
House Bill (HB) 1054 | Police tactics and equipment. This bill will take away many necessary and imperative tools law enforcement officers use every day to keep themselves, and the communities they serve safe. In fact, this bill removes many of the very tools' officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force. This bill will make the job of police officers even more dangerous and the communities they serve less safe as well!
House Bill (HB) 1310 | Police use of force standard. This bill would establish a use of force standard for law enforcement officers, failing to recognize a number of circumstances where force may be required to ensure public safety. It also undercuts the reasonable officer standard approved and established by voters through I-940.
I voted against both of these bills because they will produce significant and dangerous consequences to all Washingtonians at the expense of public safety.
The compromise | State v. Blake
Earlier this year, the Washington State Supreme Court finalized a decision known as State v. Blake, which decriminalized the simple possession of drugs in our state. This put a huge task into the hands of the Legislature to bring forward some sort of structure to what this ruling would mean for drug possession charges and convictions now and in the future.
House Republicans offered a package of real solutions to address the court's decision. Unfortunately, our solutions were not heard and did not move forward in the legislative process. Senate Bill (SB) 5476 was the avenue chosen to address the court's decision.
I believe SB 5476 is flawed and does not go far enough. As a law enforcement officer who has seen the positive results that have come from people being incarcerated due to drug possession, and their graduations from drug court, I know there are real solutions for our society and for those suffering from drug addiction. We can help the drug addicted get the help they need, make resources available to them, and their families, all while holding them accountable and responsible for their actions. For many, the answer is a criminal conviction and time served, in addition to making resources available to meet their needs and treat their addiction issues.
That is why I support the idea of secure treatment facilities where individuals can receive treatment for addictions and be held accountable and responsible for their actions, all while preparing them for a successful release back into public life in their community.
SB 5476 is not perfect, but it does not totally decriminalize simple possession of drugs, and that is why I voted yes. Something had to be done! There is still much work to do on this issue. It will be my goal to have this be one of the first issues we bring to the table in the 2022 session.
2021-23 Operating budget
The final 2021-23 operating budget does some good things, which I believe are important to point out. Parts of this budget mirror the priorities found in the House Republican operating budget framework we rolled out in February, including the Working Families Tax Credit – which for the first time in state history is fully funded, replenishing the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund, and investments in long-term forest health. My opposition to this budget is rooted in the level and growth of state spending, the reliance on an income tax on capital gains, and moving money out of the rainy-day fund into a new account.
I opposed this budget because it grows state spending by $7 billion, an increase of 13.6% over the 2019-21 budget cycle. And it is important to note, state spending has increased by 74% since Governor Jay Inslee took office in 2013. I also opposed this budget because it was not made available until day 104 of the 105-day session. You have the right to know how the state is spending your hard-earned tax dollars. You should have the opportunity for meaningful review and comment. The budget process should be transparent, and once again, it was shielded from you until the very end. For these reasons, I could not support this budget.
Video update | State v. Blake and why I voted 'no' on the 2021-23 operating budget
Despite record state tax collections the last three legislative sessions, and an influx of federal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Democrats in the Legislature continue to increase taxes on individuals, families and businesses throughout Washington state.
The most notable tax coming out of the 2021 session is the income tax on capital gains. Not only is this tax unnecessary, but it's also unpopular, unreliable, and likely unconstitutional. In fact, it is already being challenged in court. Voters have already said no to any form of an income tax 10 different times in our state history. I believe this tax is the first step to everyone in this state paying taxes on their income.
Even though the 2021-23 transportation budget did not raise taxes, there are a couple environmental-related policies the Democrats' did approve this session that will have an impact on the price you pay at the gas pump. There is also a call for the governor to call us back into a special session to pass a comprehensive transportation revenue package that did not make it across the finish line during the 2021 session.
Stay in touch!
Even though session has concluded, I am your state representative year-round. Please reach out to my office to set up an appointment. My office hours during interim are Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. My contact information can be found at the bottom of this email.
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.
As always, thank you for the opportunity and the honor to serve you, your family, and our communities as your State Representative.
May God richly bless you all!