2023 legislative session •
With the first half of the legislative session behind us, it is time to look ahead. I’m really excited about the bipartisan progress made on workforce issues, salmon recovery and wildfire prevention and response — including House Bill 1498, sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye. She has been working on this policy for years and her bill passed the House unanimously. I’m hoping these policies continue to progress in the Legislature.
One of the biggest storylines of the legislative session is housing. House Republicans prioritized this issue and continue to lead policy discussions — including Rep. Mark Klicker, our ranking member on the House Housing Committee, and Rep. Andrew Barkis. Their legislation, House Bill 1293 (streamlining development regulations) and House Bill 1245 (lot splitting), are featured in this Crosscut piece that highlights the potential for a housing reform package this year. Let’s hope the momentum continues.
I believe the second half of the legislative session will be defined by two critical public safety issues that are now in the House’s court: Vehicular pursuits (Senate Bill 5352) and drug possession and treatment (Senate Bill 5536). I discuss these issues in my video update.
Both measures passed the Senate and were referred to the House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee. A public hearing for Senate Bill 5352 has not been scheduled yet. However, Senate Bill 5536 is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday at 1:30 p.m., subject to change. This is noted in our Week Ahead publication. If you would like to weigh in on these bills, this webpage has information on how to participate in the legislative process.
I have talked about vehicular pursuits for the last two years. Democrats created this problem by passing legislation in 2021 and it has had disastrous consequences for public safety. The solution is the original version of bipartisan Senate Bill 5352, not the amended version. This is the Senate companion of House Bill 1363, legislation House Republicans support and tried to bring to the floor last week.
It is clear to anyone who is looking at this objectively what needs to be done. We need to hold criminals accountable and empower law enforcement. Republicans will continue to work with law enforcement, local elected officials, businesses, and concerned citizens to get this legislation passed. We also appreciate the support of those in the media, including editorial boards.
Drug possession and treatment
Our state also faces a drug crisis, including record overdoses in King County. It is absolutely crucial we pass reform legislation made necessary by the state Supreme Court’s Blake decision. Failure to do so would be to write off individuals, including friends and family, who are in the grip of drug addiction.
While I don’t think the criminal justice system is the first choice in dealing with those who are addicted to drugs, it has to be an option. If used correctly, I believe we can save lives and help people recover. But we cannot allow individuals to continue to commit crimes to help fund their drug addiction. There must be accountability. These crimes have made communities less safe and devastated victims.
This crisis cannot be ignored. We must pass a comprehensive solution this year. As Senate Bill 5536 (read the bill analysis here) progresses through the committee process, House Republicans will have more to say on this legislation and issue — led by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, our ranking member on the House Community Safety, Justice & Reentry Committee. We also assume this bill will be referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
Crime Victims’ Call to Action event
On Wednesday, some of our members — led by Rep. Jenny Graham — held a Crime Victims’ Call to Action event on the Capitol steps. Their message: We need to prioritize victims and their families over criminals in the decisions we make in the Legislature. You can learn more in this news release and story on the event.
Jenny also led an effort to introduce House Resolution 4626, which honors survivors of crimes in Washington state. All members of our caucus support this measure. Public safety has been and will continue to be a priority for House Republicans.
Revenue forecast and state budgets
The revenue forecast will be released on Monday. Shortly after that, Democrats in the House and Senate will release their two-year operating budget proposals. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, our ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, outlined House Republican budget priorities at our media availability this week — including helping students recover from learning loss, special education and broad-based tax relief.
We will also see the respective chambers release their transportation and capital budgets. The processes for these state budgets are more collaborative and bipartisan. I’ll share more information in the future.
Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader