Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session began this week much like the 2021 session. It will be a mostly-remote session with online committee meetings and floor votes and very few legislators or staff in attendance in Olympia. Because of the increase of COVID-19 cases statewide due to the Omicron variant, this is what the majority party in Olympia has decided. It may not be what I would want, but it is the reality in which we're living at the moment.
Top 5 issues
- Repealing and replacing the long-term care tax that Democrats passed in 2019. Currently, the governor and majority party are in agreement that the tax collections must be delayed under after the 2022 elections. But I believe the plan must be repealed in its entirety. Nearly 63% of voters statewide rejected the idea of a mandatory tax on worker paychecks to fund long-term care insurance. To date, more than 460,000 people have opted out of the program by purchasing private plans on the open market.
- What will the state do with the largest budget surplus in state history? Our four-year budget surplus is around $8.8 billion, with another $2.2 billion in reserves, and $1.2 billion in unspent emergency surplus funds. Much of this surplus is due to increasing property values and thus a dramatic rise in property taxes. I believe we should give money back to taxpayers in the form of meaningful property tax relief.
- Fixing problems stemming from the Defund the Police movement. Last session's HB1310 and HB 1054 created many problems for law enforcement around the state. Even the majority party realizes the need for fixing these issues. We need to allow law enforcement to pursue suspects, put more officers on the street, and protect retailers from increasing theft. Violent crime in our state is at a 25-year high. Now is the time to focus on keeping our communities and families safe.
- Emergency powers reform is an absolute must. We have been in a state of emergency since Feb. 29, 2020. We are approaching two years of one-person rule with very little input from legislators who represent diverse constituencies from around the state. I acknowledge that we must have emergency powers for extreme circumstances, but this has gone on far too long. I will be working with my colleagues on legislation to reform our state's emergency powers law.
- Funding transportation needs without raising the gas tax. The buying power of the gas tax has decreased as vehicles become more fuel efficient and/or electric powered. But the answer should NOT be to punish drivers by raising the gas tax. House Republicans have introduced a complete reimagining of how to fund transportation.
There will be ample issues to deal with this session as well. Homelessness, empowering parents in their children's education, drug addiction, dam breaching, and many more. Your continued involvement, especially during these remote sessions, is critical to making sure your voice is heard. Here are ways you can stay involved:
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips
- How you can be involved in the legislative process
- How to comment on a bill
- Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony
I'll continue to send updates throughout this short, 60-day session. Thank you for staying involved and for allowing me to serve you in the state House of Representatives.