2023 legislative session •

The biggest story over the last few weeks has been the vehicular pursuit issue. At our Republican media availability on Tuesday, we again expressed our support for bipartisan House Bill 1363. The proposal would restore the threshold to begin a vehicular pursuit to reasonable suspicion.

The bill has 20 Democratic sponsors and a bipartisan Senate companion. The House measure is scheduled for executive session next week in the Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee. Rep. Eric Robertson recently discussed this issue on TVW with the chair of this committee. I will update you next week.

Salmon recovery and riparian buffers | House Bill 1720

Another important bipartisan effort gained media attention this week. House Bill 1720, which deals with salmon recovery and riparian buffers, received a public hearing in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. It is a partnership between farmers, ranchers and many tribes, and it would be performed on a voluntary basis.

You can learn more about House Bill 1720 in Rep. Tom Dent’s news release. This measure is also scheduled for executive session next week.

In my video update this week, I talk about vehicular pursuit and salmon recovery.

K-12 education facts

The decision of Gov. Jay Inslee and Superintendent Chris Reykdal to shut down in-person instruction in public schools for an extended period of time had devastating consequences for students’ academic performance and mental health. While our teachers and schools did their best to implement remote instruction under challenging circumstances, the experiment had serious repercussions. I appreciate the media coverage on these issues and believe we will learn even more as research is completed.

I encourage you to visit this webpage on our caucus website: K-12 education facts for Washington state. It contains important facts about our public schools, enrollment, funding, performance, and national rankings. The performance section reveals troubling results for our students and underscores the importance of addressing it this legislative session.

Helping students recover from learning loss

House Republicans have put forward a real solution. House Bill 1328, introduced by Rep. Drew Stokesbary, would create a new, temporary program designed to improve student performance in math and English language arts. The proposal would provide funding for districts to increase the number of students meeting grade-level standards on state tests. If public schools are not successful, parents of struggling students could qualify for a stipend to access direct tutoring or other academic supports for their children.

House and Senate Republicans are united on this issue. In this op-ed, Senate Republican Leader John Braun doesn’t hold back. He says it is time for Gov. Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal and Democrats to acknowledge and address learning loss.

Senate Republicans, through Senate Bill 5248, have proposed using COVID-19 relief funding on high-quality tutoring and rigorous extended learning programs. The House companion measure, sponsored by our new education lead Rep. Skyler Rude, is House Bill 1710.

Other House Republican education priorities

Learning loss is not the only K-12 education issue being considered this legislative session. Skyler highlights some of his priorities in this recent op-ed. In addition to learning loss, he discusses proposals relating to special education fundingdual credit programs and school safety

Skyler also discusses the importance of parental involvement and transparency in decision-making in schools. I agree. His House Bill 1210, which would require all school district board meetings to be audio recorded and made available to the public, passed the House last week.

School choice

The remote instruction experiment led many parents to move their children out of public schools and into private schools or home-school settings. School choice is an important option if parents don’t believe their children are getting the support they need and deserve in public schools.

Rep. Carolyn Eslick has sponsored legislation that would establish the Students First Program. The program would fund education savings accounts and give parents control over where to direct their share of education-related state funding. House Bill 1615 received a public hearing on February 2. You can learn more in this news release.

In closing, you can find our Week Ahead publication here.


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