2022 legislative session •
We just concluded House floor action for the day. State representatives will be back tomorrow voting on bills as we work toward house of origin cutoff on Tuesday. Each deadline helps state lawmakers focus their work and informs the public on what bills are still alive in the legislative process. You can find the cutoff calendar here.
State mask mandates remain in effect
Despite governors from across the country, including Oregon and California, announcing dates to end their mask mandates and other restrictions, Gov. Inslee held a news conference Wednesday to say he needed more time to make a decision on our state mask mandates.
Sen. John Braun and I sent a letter to the governor explaining why we believe it is time to end state mask mandates. Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal also sent out a statement that said, in part, “it is safe and timely to eliminate the statewide masking requirement for students.” We will see what the governor has to say next week.
Democrats’ transportation plan
The Democrats released their transportation plan on Tuesday. As you may recall, this is something they wanted to do last year but it unraveled. The majority party, at this point, seems confident it will pass.
The 16-year, $16.8 billion proposal does not increase the state gas tax, but it will come at a cost to individuals and families — at a time when many are struggling. That’s something Democrats will have to explain to the public. I discuss these fees and taxes, and other concerns, in this news release that I sent out yesterday.
Contrary to what a Democratic state senator said on Monday, our transportation lead — Rep. Andrew Barkis — was not briefed on the plan prior to its release. Most people aren’t too interested in the process, but it’s worth noting past transportation packages have been bipartisan. The majority party’s dismissal of Republican views on critical issues relating to housing, policing, and the long-term care insurance program have resulted in deeply flawed policies. Simply put: Democrats should listen.
House Republicans released a transportation package, including eight bills, back in December. It would create a new, sustainable transportation funding model without raising fees and taxes, and prioritize the preservation and maintenance of infrastructure. You can watch this video to learn more.
We will dig into the Democrats’ policies and do everything we can to improve their proposal. There are elements of it that we like. Let’s hope the majority party listens to us as the process moves forward.
Learn more here:
- House Republican transportation lead Rep. Andrew Barkis reacts to legislative Democrats’ Move Ahead Washington transportation plan
- Move Ahead Washington | additional information
- House Republican transportation solutions: Reprioritizing Existing Appropriations for Longevity (REAL) Act
Democrats need to get serious about crime
On Wednesday, I joined Rep. Dan Griffey in calling on Democrats to get serious about crime — including retail theft and fixing their policing bills from last year. Unfortunately, they have had no sense of urgency at a time when every day matters.
Dan’s common sense, bipartisan bill to change the definition of theft and provide much-needed help to businesses was killed in committee by House Democratic leadership. It makes no sense at all. Meanwhile, crime is rampant in many parts of our state.
Democrats also need to fix the problems they created by passing House Bills 1310 and 1054 last legislative session. Everyone agrees these bills are flawed. Republicans even called for a special session last summer to fix them. These policies continue to have devastating consequences for communities. Just last Friday, a social worker was stabbed by someone in a mental-health crisis. Law enforcement blamed House Bill 1310 for the outcome. You can find more news stories here.
For those of you who want to take a deep dive into policies, here are some videos you might find interesting:
- Rep. Dan Griffey on Inside Olympia (substance abuse) | February 10
- Rep. Andrew Barkis on Inside Olympia (housing and homelessness) | February 10
- Republican media availability | February 7
- My interview on Inside Olympia | February 4
Enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday. I’ll talk with you again next week.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader