2022 legislative session •
House floor action just concluded following a lengthy debate on controversial Senate Bill 5078. The bill would prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of large capacity magazines. The policy is yet another example of how far House Democrats have strayed from their old “One Washington” slogan.
House Democrats saved this legislation until just before a cutoff deadline. House Republicans were ready for a long discourse in defense of constitutional rights. We offered 22 amendments and debated for 3.5 hours, but the measure passed on a 55-42 vote.
House Democrats back down from debate on emergency powers reform
Another disappointment at cutoff was the House Democrats’ inaction on emergency powers reform. When asked about this issue earlier this year, Speaker Jinkins said she was “seeking balance.” In the end, nothing happened and the imbalance in state government remains.
House Democrats didn’t even want to debate a watered-down bill that passed the Senate. They brought it to the House floor just after 1:00 a.m. this morning, we debated for 20 minutes, and then they stopped debate. This will be tough for them to explain to Washingtonians, including editorial boards that have sided with Republicans on the issue.
House supplemental operating budget
The House voted on the Democrats’ supplemental operating budget last Saturday. You can watch floor debate highlights in this video. House Republicans argued the budget provides no meaningful tax relief despite a $15 billion budget surplus, spends too much, and does not leave enough in reserves for a future economic downturn.
My team introduced 26 amendments, but only 11 were adopted. We ran an amendment that would have provided sales tax relief, but it was rejected — despite the fact the majority party has told us for years our state’s tax system is regressive. Another amendment would have used unspent federal stimulus dollars to recruit and retain police officers and provide body cameras to law enforcement agencies. Again, rejected — as crime surges in many part of our state.
As you might expect, the legislation passed with no Republican support. Democrats will now get together, behind closed doors, to negotiate a final budget.
Just a reminder: House Republicans introduced the SAFE Washington budget framework. It would fund the priorities of government, provide real tax relief, lower costs for consumers, put more police officers in our communities, and leave more money in reserves.
Democrats’ transportation proposal
The House debated legislation (Senate Bills 5974 and 5975) related to the Democrats’ Move Ahead Washington transportation proposal on Tuesday. Both bills passed despite a long floor debate that ended just before midnight. This video showcases some of our debate highlights.
An unpopular component of the original plan, an export fuel tax, was removed when Republicans in the Legislature and governors and state lawmakers from other states objected. Unfortunately, House Democrats opted for a new funding source that is also problematic: Raiding the Public Works Assistance Account. They would transfer $100 million from this account annually for 15 years. This would be devastating for communities across our state.
The last three transportation packages were bipartisan efforts. Not this year. Beyond the process, House Republicans oppose this proposal because it would raise fees and taxes, not prioritize preservation and maintenance of infrastructure, and decimate the Public Works Assistance Account.
Capital gains income tax ruled unconstitutional
Last year, House Republicans argued the capital gains income tax was unpopular, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Last November, 61% of voters said the bill should be repealed in Advisory Vote No. 37. Earlier this year, state lawmakers learned they had a $15 billion budget surplus. And on Tuesday, a Douglas County Superior Court judge ruled the capital gains income tax was unconstitutional. We were right.
This issue is not settled though. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his office would appeal. Democrats have fought hard for new tax increases, including the long-term care insurance payroll tax, and are standing by them. You can find a list of these bills here.
Last week, House Republicans sponsored House Resolution 4660 to recognize Ukrainian Americans. This week, we introduced House Bill 2135 to require all state agencies to divest public funds from Russia. It’s clear where House Republicans stand on this issue and our views are reflected in the language of this bill. You can learn more in this news release.
The days ahead
State lawmakers have until March 10 to finish their work. Several important issues, including three state budgets, will be determined in the next six days. House Republicans will be working hard until the final gavel drops.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader