2023 legislative session •
There will be no formal House floor or committee action this weekend. When state lawmakers return on Monday, we will have just seven days left to complete our work before Sine Die on April 23.
I don’t have a lot of information to share on the state budgets. I hear good things from our leaders on the transportation and capital budgets, although apparently the governor isn’t too happy with the chairs and ranking members of the Transportation Committees. I’m hopeful these final plans can receive bipartisan support in the House.
The process for the operating budget is less transparent as House Republicans are not in the room for negotiations. We voted against the House Democrats’ operating budget but were encouraged by the bipartisan plan that passed the Senate. We will be ready for whatever is introduced next week.
I ended last week’s email update by highlighting two bad Senate bills that passed the House. That included Senate Bill 5082, which would abolish advisory votes and take away the voices of voters on tax issues. House Republicans opposed the legislation in a spirited floor debate. Rep. Peter Abbarno recorded a video afterward to provide more context.
I appreciate the media’s coverage on this bill, including our perspectives. The first headline below reveals just how little Democrats care about overturning voter-approved initiatives.
- ‘It’s time to end the failed experiment’: Bill to repeal advisory votes heads to Inslee’s desk | The Spokesman-Review
- Prepare for nonbinding tax advisory votes to go away | Axios Seattle
Just before midnight on Monday, House Democrats finally brought vehicular pursuit legislation to the floor. As expected, we voted on the watered-down version I discussed before. While it would lower the evidentiary threshold required for engaging in vehicular pursuits for some offenses, police officers would still not be able to engage in vehicular pursuits for crimes such as auto theft, residential burglary, stalking, reckless and aggressive driving, and many others. This letter outlines all of the offenses.
You can watch some of our debate highlights in this video. Our messages are clear. This is not enough. Our communities want more. The debate continues. We will not stop until law enforcement has the support and tools it needs to keep our communities safe.
I went on the Dave Ross show the following morning to provide his listeners with an update. I always like talking to Dave. I also sat down for an interview with KING TV that day in my office. We also discussed the issue at our Republican media availability on Tuesday. The media has been all over this issue since the summer of 2021.
We’ll see what happens in the Senate. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which a stronger solution advances. The Democrats are just too divided. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility the legislation dies — similar to what happened last year.
- WA Legislature backs compromise bill on police pursuits | The Seattle Times
- Washington House passes bill allowing police pursuits under limited circumstances | The Center Square
The Blake Fake
Since the state Supreme Court Blake decision in 2021, which essentially decriminalized hard drugs, our state’s drug use, possession and treatment laws have been in disarray. This has resulted in tragic consequences and a drug crisis in our communities. In fact, our Department of Health just launched a new opioid and drug overdose dashboard to track the problems.
Three of the four caucuses, including House Republicans, supported the Blake “fix” that passed the Senate. Senate Bill 5536 also had support from law enforcement and treatment providers. Unfortunately, House Democrats went their own way and amended the legislation.
The version that passed the House late on Tuesday night was described by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker as not truly addressing the heart of the issue and helping those fighting addiction. You can read her statement here.
I agree with Gina. We can do better, starting with making possession of hard drugs a gross misdemeanor. This bill still has a long way to go and House Republicans will be at the table.
- House passes ‘Blake’ bill to enshrine drug possession as misdemeanor | The Everett Herald
- WA House passes bill to make drug possession a misdemeanor | Crosscut
A terrible bill, which would erode parental rights, passed on a party-line vote late on Wednesday night. Senate Bill 5599 is a measure that House Republicans have received a lot of emails and calls about this year. I’m proud of our floor debate that night.
Following the debate, our Assistant Floor Leaders Chis Corry and Peter Abbarno went up to the House gallery and discussed the controversial bill and why parental rights are important to House Republicans. I also addressed this issue in my video update today.
New tax increases
Democrats are again signaling they may pass new tax increases, something they have done several times since 2019.
House Bill 1628, which would increase state and local real estate excise taxes, passed out of House Finance Committee this morning — with House Republicans opposing it. This would increase the cost of multifamily housing and single-family homes. It would also lead to higher rents.
Senate Bill 5770, introduced on Wednesday, would raise the limit on increases in state and local property taxes to 3% per year. Many people are already struggling to afford property taxes and living paycheck-to-paycheck. This is going to add to their financial burdens. Sens. John Braun and Lynda Wilson released statements on the new legislation. Their caucus also created some background information on the policy.
House Republicans oppose both of these bills.
I’ll talk to you again next week. Have a nice weekend.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader