Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature is in session and once again the majority party has decided it will be a mostly remote session with committee hearings, public testimony, and floor votes occurring online. I believe we could have operated in-person similar to how our schools have remained open, with social distancing and testing. What we saw during last year's legislative session was that when the people are prevented from testifying in person, and when legislators are reduced to remote participation, flawed legislation can be the result.
Much of this legislative session will be fixing bad bills from last session. Law enforcement reforms will need to be addressed, the state's controversial long-term care insurance payroll tax, and emergency powers reform to name a few.
We also must decide what to do with the state's largest four-year budget surplus in state history. With about $8.8 billion, and another $2.2 billion in various reserves, our state is in the position to give money back to the taxpayers in the form of meaningful property tax relief. This is something I strongly believe in. Much of the state's windfall has come from escalating property values due to the housing boom and the subsequent increases in property taxes. Combined with high inflation, many families are finding it difficult to pay for daily necessities. It's time to give some back.
This year, I'm sponsoring legislation that will allow the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to hire back employees who have had COVID. The department lost nearly 6% of their employees due to the vaccine mandate. This has negatively impacted WSDOT's ability to provide proper maintenance and snow removal in high elevation passes. My bill would provide a much-needed boost to WSDOT staffing levels so that experienced men and women can get back to fixing and maintaining our state's highways. You can read more here.
I'm also sponsoring a bill to make tiny houses part of existing incentive programs for affordable housing. I'll keep you updated as the session progresses.
Here are ways you can stay involved in this remote legislative session:
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips
- How you can be involved in the legislative process
- How to comment on a bill
- Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony
As always, thank you for staying engaged and for allowing me to serve you in the state House of Representatives.