2022 legislative session •
Week six of the legislative session began with a marathon House floor debate that started just before 9 p.m. on Monday and ended around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The debate was on House Bill 1837, a measure that would overturn a 2003 initiative that prohibits state ergonomic regulations that go beyond federal OSHA regulations.
This terrible policy would make things more expensive for consumers and negatively impact every part of our state economy. The measure passed 50-48; a narrow vote you don’t see very often.
House Republicans will continue to listen to Washingtonians and fight for consumers, small businesses, and jobs. Nine minutes of highlights from this nine-hour debate can be found in this video. You can find highlights of other debates at this web page.
House of origin cutoff
Tuesday was house of origin cutoff, which results in the death of many bills. And when bills are bad, that’s a good thing. Although, no legislation is truly dead until the gavel drops at the end of the legislative session. I discussed this cutoff and some of the bad bills that were stopped in this video from earlier this week.
Historic budget surplus
On Wednesday, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the state revenue forecast. Near General Fund-Outlook revenue increased by $1.4 billion for 2021-23 and $1.3 billion for 2023-25 as compared to the November 2020 forecast. Our state now has a historic four-year budget surplus approaching $14 billion.
Our budget lead, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, reflected the views of our caucus when he said, “With record tax collections and a historic budget surplus, there’s never been a better time to deliver real, meaningful tax relief to working families.” You can read Drew’s statement here.
Providing meaningful tax relief has been a legislative priority for House Republicans since day one, but it’s unclear if Democrats share our vision. We will find out early next week when they release their operating budget proposals.
State mask mandates continue
Yesterday, to the disappointment of many, Gov. Inslee announced his state school and indoor mask mandates will remain in effect until March 21. Washington is an outlier on this policy. Sen. John Braun and I sent a letter to the governor last week asking him to lift state mask mandates immediately. We reaffirmed this position in a statement yesterday.
Meanwhile, we are in a legislative session and Democrats have no interest in discussing this policy or enacting real emergency powers reform. They seem content with the status quo on this issue and others like public safety, housing, and taxes. Democrats are simply not listening to Washingtonians. Republicans are not only listening but responding to what we are hearing from constituents.
The Democrats’ costly and flawed transportation plan
In addition to three state budgets (operating, transportation, and capital) and emergency powers legislation, another important issue in the House for consideration is the Democrats’ costly and flawed transportation plan. This plan is not only being criticized by Republicans, but also Democrats.
Gov. Kate Brown and Democratic state lawmakers from Oregon are threatening to retaliate if Washington Democrats move forward with their export fuel tax. Gov. Mike Dunleavy of Alaska said his state will “respond accordingly” and Gov. Brad Little of Idaho released this statement earlier today. This does not bode well for Washingtonians.
This is embarrassing for Democrats and yet another example of their go-it-alone approach resulting in disastrous policy. Their transportation plan already included new taxes and fees, and now it could get even more expensive for those who can least afford it. House Republicans are looking forward to this debate and continuing to advocate for the transportation solutions, which don’t include any new taxes or fees, we introduced late last year.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader