Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this email finds you and your families well! Summer is starting to transition into fall, just as the interim is transitioning into the 2022 legislative session.
This interim has been extremely busy. It's been an honor and privilege to participate in many community events held throughout the district. After the last year or so under the shadow of the COVID-19 shutdowns, it's been a breath of fresh air to see so many of you in person, enjoying the many ceremonies, fairs, and outdoor activities across the great 8th District.
My legislative activities have also kept me busy as I begin to prepare for session. Our local area dams, including others across the state, are integral to our environment and economy. I had the honor of taking a tour of the Snake River.
I've also had the opportunity to tour other areas around our state, including the Port of Tacoma, the Washington State Commission on Pesticide (WSCPR) tour, the food and farm legislative tour with the Washington State Potato Commission. I also had the opportunity to attend and participate in a cyber symposium on election security and integrity as I continue my work on our state's election process.
In this email update, I'll share some thoughts on the top issues that matter to you and your families, including the governor's vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, a brief update on my work on the current police reform laws, and election integrity and fairness.
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 issues. I'd like to hear your thoughts, concerns, and questions on the issues presented in this e-newsletter and other matters involving your state government. My contact information is below.
COVID-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine passports
On August 9, Gov. Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 21-14, mandating that most state employees, health, and long-term care workers are vaccinated by October 18 or risk losing their jobs. On August 18, the governor further extended this mandate through Proclamation 21-14.1 to include those working in childcare, early learning, K-12, and higher education institutions.
I have received thousands of emails and calls from constituents, law enforcement, first responders, health care workers, frontline workers, teachers, contractors, etc., regarding these mandates. I want to thank you for reaching out to me with your concerns, frustrations, and fears. I've also heard from many of you asking what I'm doing – along with my Republican colleagues – against these mandates that continue to be thrown at you.
Many of you have chosen not to get vaccinated for a myriad of reasons. I fully support your right to make your own personal health care decisions. During the 2021 legislative session, I introduced House Bill 1006, which would protect the right of every Washington resident to decline an immunization or vaccination based on religion or conscience. Let me be clear. I'm not anti-vaccine. I'm anti-government control and mandates over your personal health care and medical rights and choices.
The governor recently publicly stated during one of his news conferences that he's considering a statewide vaccine verification system for indoor businesses. Although no formal proclamation has been made yet, we are beginning to see some counties and cities requiring their businesses, sporting events, etc., to have their patrons prove their vaccination status before they can enter and/or participate. I'm adamantly opposed to vaccine passports/proof of vaccination status! During the 2021 legislative session, I co-sponsored House Bill 1570 – with my colleague Rep. Jim Walsh – which would have prohibited the government from requiring proof of vaccination to access public places. Many states across the country have already banned vaccine passports, including Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and Arkansas. It's time Washington state moves in the direction to do the same.
I will continue to fight for the personal freedom of everyone – whether you choose to become vaccinated or not.
I also wholeheartedly believe that major decisions like this should not come from one person or branch of government. The Legislature needs to be involved in these massive decisions that impact every person across our state.
Emergency powers reform
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit our state in March of 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee began a process of ruling by decree through emergency powers. While some might argue this was justified due to the unprecedented nature of the virus, House Republicans began sounding the alarm on the governor's emergency powers as early as April 2020, including the fact the governor had no clear and comprehensive plan to restart our state economy.
Since day one of this pandemic, and throughout the 2021 legislative session, I've been working to reign in the governor's sole authority. I introduced House Bill 1013, which would limit the duration of emergency rules and House Bill 1020 concerning the governor's emergency powers.
House Republicans have also continued to push for emergency powers reform even before the 2021 session began. Even a few of our Democratic colleagues have expressed concern over the governor's unchecked emergency power. However, despite numerous attempts to give the Legislature a more influential voice during emergencies, our efforts remain rebuffed by the majority party. For more than 18-months, we've remained under the rule of the executive branch. This is not how our state government is designed to operate.
I will not give up and will continue fighting until there are checks and balances restored and exercised by the Legislature.
Police reform update
One of my main priorities and deep concerns is the extreme push to reform how our law enforcement agencies protect and serve their communities throughout Washington state. Every piece of legislation passed during the 2021 session is making our officers and the communities they serve less safe.
Recently, I signed on to a request – along with several of my House Republican colleagues – to the Attorney General asking for a formal opinion addressing multiple issues arising from House Bills 1054 and 1310. You can read the questions we've asked the Attorney General to clarify by clicking here.
As we prepare for the 2022 session, police reform and public safety will remain one of my top priorities.
Election integrity and fairness
Election integrity in our state's election process is another one of my top priorities. I believe there is a way to ensure fairness in our election system for every person seeking public office. During the 2021 session, I introduced several bills to protect the integrity of our elections. Those bills included:
- House Bill 1003: Requiring watermarks on mail-in ballots
- House Bill 1360: Concerning counted mailed ballots that are missing postmarks
- House Bill 1361: Concerning the timely mailing of ballots by county auditors
- House Bill 1377: Ending vote by mail and restoring in-person voting at polling places
In a future e-newsletter, I will provide more details into my priorities and the legislation I plan to introduce in the 2022 legislative session.
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!