2023 legislative session •

There are now just two days left in the 2023 legislative session. Below is an update on state budgets, the Blake fix, bad bills that have passed the Legislature, and good House Republican bills that have been sent to the governor. I also discussed some of these issues in my video update today.

Capital budget

The House passed the 2023-25 capital budget on a 96-0 vote today. Often called the state construction budget, the development of this spending plan continues to be a bipartisan endeavor. Rep. Mike Steele led our negotiations and did a great job again. You can find the statement he released here.

This budget will appropriate just under $9 billion, with $4.18 billion in newly authorized bonds. It will make important investments in housing, behavioral health facilities, school construction, and smaller projects across our state. The plan will also leave $95.4 million for the 2024 supplemental capital budget next year.

To find projects in legislative districts, visit this webpage. You can also find budget documents here.

It is also worth noting that Republicans and Democrats rejected the $4 billion housing proposal introduced by Gov. Inslee this year. And that’s a good thing for our state. We were able to make major investments in housing in a much more responsible way.

Transportation and operating budgets

House Republicans were briefed on the 2023-25 transportation budget today and we expect to vote on it tomorrow. There will also be bipartisan support for this spending plan. If you recall, we supported the House version that passed on April 3.

We should be provided details on the 2023-25 operating budget tomorrow and vote on it Sunday. Unlike the other two state budgets, House Republicans have not been at the table. We united in opposition to the House Democrats’ operating budget proposal a few weeks ago. Our concerns included the unsustainable growth of state spending and inadequate funding for special education and helping students recover from learning loss. Rep. Drew Stokesbary articulated our budget priorities at a media availability last month.

No new tax increases for now

While it does not appear House Bill 1628 (real estate excise taxes) and Senate Bill 5770 (property taxes) will move forward, we remain on alert. Until the gavel drops on the last day, nothing is certain. And we know these bad ideas will be back next year. I encourage you to read this op-ed from Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber in The Wenatchee World.

No Blake fix yet

Other unfinished business includes the Blake fix, which deals with our state’s failed approach to drug use, possession and treatment. I have discussed this issue in this publicationvideo updatesnews conferences, and other communications. As I highlighted last week, the legislation that finally reached the House floor was a Blake fake.

Twenty-eight mayors from across our state sent state lawmakers a letter expressing their concerns with the House’s changes to Senate Bill 5536. This line is important: “The changes represent a step back in accountability and make it more difficult for local governments to keep our communities safe.” You can learn more from this KOMO TV piece.

Reps. Gina Mosbrucker and Peter Abbarno are representing our caucus in negotiations. Having known for months these policies needed to be address this legislative session, it is shocking to me Democrats would take this into the 11th hour. It shows just how divided they are on the issue.

Partisanship and bipartisanship

This week, I received feedback from a constituent who said he “would appreciate a less-partisan recap of the issues.” I also got an invitation from a member of the media to talk about all of my bipartisan work this legislative session. These are not unusual assessments and I appreciate the feedback.

As a state lawmaker and caucus leader, there’s a time for partisanship and a time for bipartisanship. If there’s a bad bill or policy, I am going to call it out and explain candidly why I oppose it. And if there’s an opportunity for bipartisan collaboration, I am going to pursue it. As the minority party, it is our responsibility to put forward real solutions that offer options and contrast with the majority party. I am proud of our record as a caucus.

Bad bills that have passed the Legislature

While House Republicans were able to help stop several bad bills from advancing this year (see list here), we could not stop all of them. Below is a list of bad bills, with brief descriptions, that have passed the Legislature. This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes measures you may have seen in the headlines. You can watch debate highlights below or at this webpage.

  • House Bill 1143 will establish significant new requirements to legally purchase or transfer a firearm, including a new permit requirement with fingerprinting, in addition to a background check. Watch debate highlights
  • House Bill 1169 will eliminate criminals having to pay a penalty to fund services for victims of crimes and shift these costs to taxpayers. Watch debate highlights
  • House Bill 1181 will add a climate change element to the Growth Management Act and require policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled. Watch debate highlights.  
  • House Bill 1240 will prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any so-called assault weapon, subject to various exceptions for licensed firearm manufacturers and dealers and for individuals who inherit an assault weapon. Watch debate highlights and a post-debate video with Rep. Jim Walsh.  
  • Senate Bill 5082 will abolish advisory votes, which were approved by voters through I-960 in 2007. Watch debate highlights and a post-debate video with Rep. Peter Abbarno
  • Senate Bill 5217 will repeal the law prohibiting L&I from adopting rules related to ergonomics or musculoskeletal disorders and provide limitations on the adoption of new ergonomic rules. Watch debate highlights.
  • Senate Bill 5599 will erode parental rights and allow shelters to not notify parents that their children are at a shelter if they are receiving gender-affirming care or reproductive services. Watch debate highlights and a post-debate video with Reps. Chris Corry and Peter Abbarno.

Good House Republican bills that have been sent to the governor

Several bills prime sponsored by House Republicans have been signed into law or are awaiting the governor’s signature. Please visit this webpage for a list. It will be updated in the future. Below you will find news releases on some of these measures.

We are back on the House floor tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. I will have more to share next week.


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912