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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2022 legislative session ended last night just before midnight. I want to thank all of you who have sent emails, written letters, made phone calls, and testified in remote committee hearings. Throughout the past 60 days your voice has been heard as I try to represent our collective priorities as best I can. What follows is a quick recap of some of the larger issues of the session.

Second Amendment bills
Senate Bill 5078 – bans firearms magazines of more than 10 rounds. This new law goes into effect on July 1 and will ban the sale, transfer, and import of so-called “high capacity magazines,” although most of us gun owners know that this really bans standard magazines as the most popular firearms usually come with a magazine over 10 rounds. You have until July 1 to purchase or acquire firearms magazines over 10 rounds. After that, they are banned. I voted against this bill and spoke against it on the House floor. It passed with no Republican support. You can watch a short mashup video of debate on this issue here.

House Bill 1705 – bans hobbyists and gun enthusiasts, many of them current or former military members, from building or assembling firearms from various parts. This is a misguided attempt to go after so-called “ghost” guns that can't be traced because they don't have serial numbers on certain pieces. Yet it ignores the fact that the vast majority of ghost guns found at crime scenes are firearms that have had their serial numbers filed or acid etched off. This bill bans what has become a popular family activity of building personal firearms. I voted against this bill. It passed with no Republican support.

Emergency powers reform
The majority party refused to pass emergency powers reform legislation that I cosponsored, House Bill 1772. Emergency powers reform is one of the issues I hear from constituents about the most. Like you, I am frustrated that we have been essentially under one-person rule for over two years. There was watered-down legislation that didn't do much, Senate Bill 5909, that came up for a vote in the House. When we went to debate this bill, the majority party pulled it down after about 20 minutes of debate and then blamed House Republicans for killing the bill. This was a dishonest representation of the facts and proves they didn't want to address the issue in the first place.

$15 billion surplus but no relief for taxpayers?
With the state expecting a $15 billion surplus over the next four years many of us in the Legislature wanted to give some back in the form of tax relief. We offered legislation to reduce the property tax, state sales tax, business and occupation taxes on small businesses and those industries hit hardest by the pandemic. None were accepted. Instead, the majority party spent almost all of it and actually raised taxes and fees in their transportation budget. You can read more in my op-ed on this issue here. As I mention in the op-ed, fuel and food prices are going to continue to go up as well as inflation. We had an opportunity to give some back to taxpayers to help struggling families. It is a shame the Legislature chose not to do this.

Policing legislation
We were able to fix several of the problems created last year by Democrats' police reform bills. However, police pursuits and several other solutions that we proposed at the beginning of session with our Safe Washington Plan were not addressed. With crime – especially violent crime – continuing to surge, we need to make sure law enforcement has the tools, training, and certainty to do their jobs protecting our communities. I find it frustrating and a little tone-deaf that at a time when violent crime is surging, some in Olympia would sponsor legislation to remove sentencing enhancement for violent crimes committed with firearms, reduce penalties for drive-by-shootings, and attack law-abiding gun owners and their ability to defend themselves and their loved ones. I'm hopeful that a more attentive and common-sense minded Legislature will be back in 2023 to further address these important issues.

Long-term care tax and insurance plan
One of the first issues addressed this session was the Democrats' unpopular and unfair mandatory long-term care tax and insurance plan. Despite voters voting against this plan, the majority party went ahead and passed the proposal in 2019. When many media sources started pointing out the inequities in this plan and its insolvency, they decided to delay the tax collections until next year. But in my opinion, there really is no fix for this. I cosponsored legislation to repeal and replace the plan. But neither bill passed. We'll see what happens next year.

Our first Zoom townhall
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, I joined my 9th Legislative District seatmates, Rep. Mary Dye and Sen. Mark Schoesler, for our first online Zoom townhall meeting. We had around 60 people participate. We took questions and gave an update on the session so far. The pandemic has forced us to embrace technology in news ways. While this is the first online townhall, I don't believe it's our last. We need to continue to find ways to engage with our constituents and keep you involved. Hearing your thoughts, opinions, and priorities is crucial to our form of government. We are your voice. And it is an honor to serve you.

Please know that while we are technically a part-time Legislature, I – and my office – are here to serve you year round. Please reach out with questions or concerns about state government or if you're having a problem with a state agency.

Sincerely,


Joe Schmick

State Representative Joe Schmick, 9th Legislative District
RepresentativeJoeSchmick.com
426B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov
(253) 275-1425 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000