Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A couple of months ago, I sent a small survey to you via an email update. I wanted to get a feel for what my constituents want in terms of vaccine and mask mandates. While the results were about what I expected, it is important to have that information on hand as I communicate with my colleagues in the Legislature. It's one thing to tell them that I know how you feel about this issue, it's another to have raw data from over 1,000 responses to back that up. Read on for the results.
“Do you support vaccine mandates for all K-12 teachers and school employees?”
YES = 21%
NO = 79%
“Do you support vaccine mandates for all state employees?”
YES = 21%
NO = 79%
“Do you support vaccine mandates for all healthcare workers and first responders like firefighters, ambulance, and emergency medical technicians?”
YES = 23%
NO = 77%
“Do you support mask mandates for all K-12 students?”
YES = 23%
NO = 77%
“Do you support mask mandates for all businesses and public indoor spaces?”
YES = 24%
NO = 76%
“Should Gov. Jay Inslee's emergency powers be reformed and limited?”
YES = 81%
NO = 19%
“Should the Legislature call a special session to address and reform the governor's emergency powers?”
YES = 80%
NO = 20%
“Is there anything else you'd like me to know?” (Over 700 answered this question. Here are a few examples of comments received from you.)
“Protect all of our constitutional rights, as you and all your colleagues have sworn to do. It's really just that simple.”
“I believe we are living in the United States of America, where we have constitutional rights as Americans. From what Jay Inslee is doing, it feels like we are living in a communist country where all of our basic rights as humans are being taken away from us because of his political agenda. This is the USA, not communist China. Jay Inslee needs to be removed from office.”
“Someone needs to stop this nonsense. COVID is real but the measures are politically motivated. We need our freedom back.”
“The governor's mandates are illegal. Nothing in RCW 43.06.220 gives him the right to create laws. He can waive or suspend them, so why is anyone following the mandates? Thank you for your support of our local fire department having the right to have medical choice.”
“It's my belief that Inslee's out of control. He should not have the right to mandate this as a condition of employment. Nor deny those unemployment for refusing to comply. Seems like blackmail to me.”
Thank you to all who responded to my survey. I appreciate getting feedback from you and hearing your thoughts and concerns. As many of you are strongly in favor of reforming the governor's emergency powers, I urge you to visit this website to see all of the efforts we've exhausted to this point.
2022 Legislative Session
The 2022 legislative session starts in about six weeks. Like last session, the majority party in Olympia has decided it will be a mostly remote session with online committee hearings, very few staff, and not much public access. Only legislators who have attested to their vaccine status or those who agree to undergo regular testing may access their offices on the Capitol Campus. While I'm disappointed in this decision, there are still ways for you to stay involved in YOUR state government. To testify remotely in the House or Senate, click here.
Revenue forecast shows more tax dollars coming into state coffers
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) recently adopted the November revenue forecast which increased state revenue projections by nearly $2 billion over the next four years. This continues a trend of extraordinary tax growth that has created a substantial operating budget surplus. In effect, Washington taxpayers continue to send tax dollars to Olympia at a record pace. The state is now projecting a four-year surplus of $8.8 billion plus along with $1.2 billion in unspent federal stimulus funds. These figures do not include the $1.2 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account (aka Rainy Day Fund).
I will be working this next session to push property tax relief. It's time the government give back to the hardworking taxpayers of Washington. With all of us paying more at the pump, to heat our homes, feed our families, and for every day goods and services, state government could stand to give some of its excess back to the citizens.
Long-term care tax
Many of you have contacted my office regarding the long-term care payroll tax that will go toward the WA Cares Fund. I anticipate several bills this session to amend or repeal this flawed law. Here are a few of the reasons this is the wrong approach to long-term care:
- The lifetime benefit of only $36,500 is much less than what many people will pay into the program over the course of their lives, and it may only pay for a few months of services.
- People who live outside of Washington but work in the state will have to pay into the program but will not be able to use it.
- The plan is not portable, meaning if you choose to move from Washington after you retire, you cannot use it.
- The opt-out window of just a couple months was way too short for many people to act.
- Many people who wanted to purchase a private plan were not able to before the deadline.
- Many high earners having already opted out and the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Commission has expressed concern whether the program is actuarily viable. That could mean higher taxes to fund the program.
To address the many inquiries House Republicans are receiving on this issue, we created a new web page to help you answer some of your questions.
Staying informed this session
Here are some ways to stay involved and up to date during the legislative session:
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- How you can be involved in the legislative process: This includes a citizen's guide to effective legislative participation.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- The Ledger: A legislative news aggregator that is updated frequently.
- Capitol Buzz: Sent out each weekday, featuring stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
Thank you for reading my email update and for staying involved. It is an honor to serve you in the Legislature.