Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Despite the newness and novelty of this remote session, the majority party is up to its old tricks when it comes to legislation infringing upon the Second Amendment. Constituents often ask me about “gun bills” during session – so here you go:
Attack on Second Amendment continues…
House Bill 1164 is this year's “high capacity magazine” ban, essentially outlawing any rifle or pistol magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. I do not believe government should limit how many rounds a person has to defend themselves, their families, property and loved ones. It's the absolute height of both lunacy and hypocrisy to think that criminals will somehow obey this law while in the midst of committing criminal acts. The only people this bill will affect are law-abiding citizens. I will vote no on this bill – or the Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 5078 – if either of them come up for a vote.
House Bill 1229 and Senate Bill 5217 are this year's so-called “assault rifle” bans. These bills would ban the manufacture, transfer, import, purchase, or sale of the nation's most popular rifle platform for hunting, sporting, rifle clubs, and self defense. While there doesn't seem to be a lot of movement on these two bills yet, they can be called to the floor at any time for a vote if majority Democrats choose to do so.
House Bill 1283 is the first step to banning “open carry” in our state. It essentially prohibits “acting with three or more persons and openly carrying or displaying a weapon in a manner in which a reasonable person would feel threatened.” But who defines “reasonable person”? There are a lot of people in Olympia and Seattle that don't seem “reasonable” to me. If this bill passes, look for Democrats to attempt to completely ban open carry in our state next year.
At the same time, while the majority party attacks law-abiding gun owners, they are pushing legislation that makes them very soft on crime.
House Bill 1169 removes the requirement that a criminal must serve multiple firearm or deadly weapon enhancements consecutively, and leaves that discretion up to the court. In essence, this bill would reduce the sentences of criminals who commit crimes with firearms.
House Bill 1078 would allow felons to vote immediately upon being released from prison, rather than having to petition to have that right reinstated, as is current law. But last year we saw the governor release thousands of prisoners early due to COVID-19 concerns. Why are we prioritizing criminals over victims and law-abiding citizens?
Isn't the North/South Freeway supposed to be finished by now…???
That was the promise after the Legislature's last gas tax increase from a few years ago. However, it looks like the threat of “not completing the north/south freeway” may once again be used to gin up support for the latest gas tax increase proposal. The majority party in the House unveiled their newest attempt at taking more taxpayer dollars. Here are some recent media articles:
- Washington House Democrats propose massive gas and carbon tax (KXLY)
- Proposal could make Washington state's gas tax highest in US (KING TV)
- Gas taxes and fees could reach $1 per gallon under new Washington state transportation proposal (The Seattle Times)
- Democratic lawmakers propose massive gas tax increase to fund transportation (MyNorthwest)
- Plan to raise gas taxes (KIRO TV)
The Democrat plan for an 18-cent gas tax increase on top of new carbon fees could increase the price of a gallon of gas by a dollar! If implemented, Washington state's gas tax (including the federal tax) would increase to 85.4 cents-per-gallon, the highest in the nation. Compare that to Idaho at 50.4 cents and Oregon at 54.4 cents. And, because their proposal ties these new increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the gas tax would continue to go up in perpetuity, with no citizen input or legislative oversight!
This price increase doesn't include the governor's low carbon fuel standard which has already passed the House committee. This onerous proposal could add another 50-60 cents per gallon.
To top it off, their plan would spend $26 billion over the next 16 years yet would still leave billions in backlogged maintenance and preservation projects. I continue to believe we need to take care of the roads and highways we have. That's why I am once again sponsoring legislation (House Bill 1137) to prioritize and elevate maintenance and preservation within the transportation budget and planning.
Employment Security Department data breach impacts over a million
Since the pandemic hit in March, we have helped numerous constituents work through issues and claims within the Employment Security Department (ESD). Last week the Washington State Auditor announced a security breach may have exposed sensitive, personal information of citizens, specifically those who made unemployment claims in 2020.
If you have filed a claim with ESD, contacted them for any reason in the last 11 months or have reason to believe your personal information may have been compromised, below are links that may be helpful. Do not hesitate to contact my office or the state auditor's office if you have any questions or concerns.
- Office of the Washington State Auditor
- About the Accellion data security breach | What you need to know
This is another example of state government not holding itself accountable. Former director, Suzi Levine, allowed hundreds of millions of dollars in a Nigerian scam to be lost. She also failed thousands of workers in Washington as they waited weeks, sometimes months for their benefits. Rather than be held accountable for her agency's failures, she was given a recent promotion and is going to work for the Biden Administration.