2022 legislative session •
The 2022 legislative session has ended after a long and challenging 60 days.
I continue to believe the largely remote setting has been detrimental to the legislative process the last two years. The virtual format resulted in less communication and more mistakes. There are no substitutes for in-person committee hearings, office visits, caucus meetings, and other critical interactions. We must get back to normal in 2023.
There were, of course, bipartisan successes. Most bills pass with bipartisan support. And the supplemental capital budget once again showed what is possible when Republicans and Democrats collaborate on state spending plans. But there were also some disappointments.
Attempting to fix problems created in previous legislative sessions
Long-term care insurance program and payroll tax
The first part of the legislative session was spent addressing the problems with the unpopular long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. Democrats punted on the issue, but challenges will be waiting for state lawmakers in 2023. House Republicans introduced legislation to repeal and replace the program, but House Democrats would not engage.
The Legislature also spent time attempting to fix the problems created last year by the Democrats’ policing reforms. Republicans and Democrats worked together to address some of the troubling aspects of these policies, with Republicans offering solutions and delivering critical votes. However, not all of the problems were addressed.
Senate Bill 5919, which would have restored some of the authority for police officers to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion, died. Failing to change this policy will continue to have major consequences for public safety. House Bill 1788, sponsored by Rep. Eric Robertson, was another solution that was rejected by the Democrats.
With crime surging, public safety will continue to be a priority for Republicans. We introduced the Safe Washington Plan the week before the legislative session started. I encourage you to learn more about our proposals.
No meaningful tax relief
Budget writers missed an opportunity to provide meaningful tax relief at a time when the state had a massive budget surplus and families are struggling with high inflation and gas prices. The Democrats’ supplemental operating budget does not provide real tax relief, spends too much, and does nothing to strengthen the rainy-day fund. House Republicans voted against it.
House Republicans introduced a supplemental operating budget framework. It would have funded the priorities of government, provided real tax relief, lowered costs for consumers, and put more police officers in our communities.
No emergency powers reform
For the second year in a row, House Democrats showed no interest in emergency powers reform. Weak legislation, criticized by editorial boards, passed the Senate. When the bill came to the House floor and Republicans offered amendments to make it stronger, Democrats shut down debate after 20 minutes and killed the bill. You can watch the short debate here.
A lack of bipartisanship
This was the most partisan legislative session I have been a part of in my time in the House. The Democrats’ transportation package is a good illustration of why. For years, these packages have been bipartisan efforts. This year was different.
Democrats rolled out their proposal mid-session, never consulted with Republicans, pushed for a controversial export fuel tax initially, and finally went behind closed doors and settled on a package that will raid the important Public Works Assistance Account. That is a bad approach to developing and passing major public policy.
Beyond the partisan process, Republicans opposed the package because it raises too many fees, does not prioritize preservation and maintenance, and ignores many parts of our state. Republicans put several transportation solutions on the table.
A look ahead
While our state has a part-time Legislature, state lawmakers and their offices work throughout the year. We are here to answer your emails, calls, and letters, and assist you with state government. You can find House Republican contact information at this link. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
This email update will be a monthly publication moving forward. In the next edition, I will provide you more information on the 2022 legislative session — including details on bills. Until then, take care and thank you for being a part of the legislative process.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader