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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2021 legislative session began last week unlike any in state history. Legislators were in Olympia on Monday to vote on rules and some got sworn into office. All but a handful were then sent back to their districts as this session will largely be a remote one, with committee hearings, floor debates, caucus meetings and stakeholder meetings all being done online.

This is not what I wanted. This is not what my fellow Republicans wanted. We believe the peoples' business should be open, transparent and accessible to you – the people! Unfortunately, the majority party has taken advantage of the coronavirus situation and has chosen a completely remote session, which I believe will further silence the minority party and the millions of voices we represent.

The governor's emergency powers…
No matter your opinion on the coronavirus and our closed economy, we should all be concerned about Gov. Inslee's continued abuse of the governor's emergency powers. When the pandemic first began we (the Legislature) were finishing up the 2020 legislative session and heading back home. He exercised emergency powers to do what he thought was best. But now that the Legislature is back in session, the legislative branch should have a say.

Instead, the first bill that majority Democrats in the Legislature passed was one abdicating our oversight role in the Legislature back to the governor.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402 bundles 26 of Inslee's emergency orders and extends them until “the termination of the state emergency.” In other words, instead of debating the necessity of closing down certain segments of our economy and hearing from all corners of the state, one man has absolute power. And the majority party just gave him more.

I spoke against and voted against this legislation. It sets a dangerous precedent of ceding legislative authority to the executive branch and further silences the voices of many concerned citizens. I fear these examples of giving one man too much power will continue throughout the legislative session.

Opening up our economy…
I firmly believe we need to open up our economy and let people and small businesses engage in their preferred method of social distancing and best health practices. The term “the cure is worse than the disease” has taken on new meaning as we continue to see the devastating effects of Inslee's closure of our state. In this week's media alone:

Foster youth are less connected to school than they were in the spring (The Seattle Times) 
Current events, COVID-19 exacerbate mental health concerns as calls for help spike (KOMO TV)
King County reports sharp rise in fatal overdoses (AP)
'A horrible surprise for any business' — Washington lawmakers weigh bill exempting businesses from taxes on COVID-19 aid (The Seattle Times)
Historic Fall City restaurant 'on the brink' of possibly closing (KCPQ TV) 
EDITORIAL: State must come clean about delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout (The Seattle Times) 
Washington state's employment agency paid out fake claims on 10 of its workers (KING TV)

Staying connected to the 2021 session…
It is vitally important for Eastern Washington citizens to stay connected to what's happening in Olympia. To testify remotely in the House, click here. To testify remotely in the Senate, click here.

Every committee meeting and floor session will be broadcast on TVW. Here are other helpful resources to help you stay involved and in the know:

I want to thank you again for choosing me to be your voice in Olympia. It is an honor and privilege to serve you.


Bob McCaslin

State Representative Bob McCaslin, 4th Legislative District
425 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(564) 888-2462 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000