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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

From day one of this year's 105-day legislative session, House Republicans fought hard against the Democrats' harmful policy proposals. Although we were outnumbered 57-41, we won every major floor fight and showed Washingtonians across the state that we had their back.

For their part, the majority party chose to move the debate along as quickly as possible. They simply didn't want to stand up and defend many of their far-left policies. They also didn't want to defend their push for billions in new tax increases, which is why they shut the public out of the process. How'd they do that, you ask? They used title-only bills.

I'll let The Seattle Times editorial board explain:

They used a parliamentary gimmick called a “title-only bill” to bypass the state constitution and cut the public out of the process. Here's how it works. At least a couple of weeks before the end of the session, lawmakers file a bunch of title-only bills on different topics. This year there were about two dozen. Each one has a generic title and one sentence body like, “The legislature intends to enact legislation concerning tax revenue.” Then, if lawmakers decide to rush something through at the end of the session, they can cut that sentence and replace it whatever they want.

Democrat budget writers had record revenues and a $2.8 billion surplus with which to write a sustainable budget that funded our shared priorities. Unfortunately, they went in a different direction. In the aftermath of them using title-only bills to approve $2 billion in tax increases in the dead of night on the final weekend of session, editorial boards across the state have weighed in with headlines such as:

The Democrats' new tax increases include:

  • A business and occupation (B&O) tax surcharge on services that will impact 90,000 employers and raise costs for consumers.
  • A new, graduated real estate excise tax (REET) that will restrict housing supply, increase rents and harm our economy.
  • A higher tax on oil that will increase the price of gas.
  • A B&O tax increase on large banks that will result in costs being passed on to customers.
  • A change to the nonresident sales tax exemption, which will result in fewer Oregonians shopping at Washington businesses in our border communities.

Along with these tax increases, the majority also approved a levy lift bill that will increase property taxes for families across the state by modifying the amount local levies can collect for K-12 enrichment programs.

When the 2019-21 operating budget was brought to the House floor for a vote, our members didn't hold back. We explained how it spends too much (18% increase from current levels), saves too little (leaves just $100 million in reserves), sets the state up for problems when the next economic downturn comes, and relies on unnecessary tax increases. Watch:

Looking past the operating budget

Throughout session, Republicans—and thousands of Washingtonians who came to the Capitol to make their voices heard—were instrumental in stopping a number of harmful Democrat-sponsored policies:

  • House Bill 2156 would create a new capital gains income tax.
  • House Bill 1110 would create a new low carbon fuel standard program, which would significantly increase the price of gas and goods.
  • House Bill 1068 would make it unlawful for Washingtonians to possess firearm magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
  • House Bill 1491 would restrict scheduling options for employees and employers, hurting various industries around the state.
  • House Bill 1515 would force many individual contractors to work as employees as opposed to being their own boss.
  • Senate Bill 5395 would require every school to provide comprehensive sex education.

These proposals will be up for consideration again next year, so we'll need you to stay active and engaged in the process with us during the 2020 session. Working together, we can stop them again.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stop every bad policy this session:

  • House Bill 1575 will make it more difficult for public employees to exercise their right to not join – or get out of – a union. 
  • House Bill 1870 will codify Obamacare in state statute.
  • House Bill 1087 will create a new state government long-term care benefit through a new, employee-paid payroll tax.
  • House Bill 1257 will require Department of Commerce to establish a State Energy Performance Standard, and will establish a Natural Gas Conservation Standard.
  • Senate Bill 5116 will require our state to phase out fossil fuel electricity generation and move to 100% clean energy resources by 2045, with associated costs falling on families and employers through higher energy bills.
  • Senate Bill 5526 will require the Health Benefit Exchange to develop standardized health plans and expressly limit choice over time in favor of one-size-fits-all plans meeting specific government requirements.

The bipartisan successes of session

Although much of session was contentious, Republicans and Democrats did come together to work on a number of key priorities:

  • The 2019-21 capital budget provides record funding for mental and behavioral health infrastructure around the state. Without the leadership of Republican Rep. Norma Smith, that wouldn't have been possible.
  • Senate Bill 5380 will establish new rules regarding opioid prescribing and the dispensing of opioid overdose reversal medication. It will also require physicians to discuss alternatives to opioids with patients before prescribing them.
  • Senate Bill 5091 will increase the excess cost multiplier for special education students, which will result in more funding.  
  • Senate Bill 5511 will expand broadband to enable economic development, public safety and health care across our state.
  • Senate Bill 5649 will eliminate the statute of limitations for most sex crimes committed against minors, and extend the statute of limitations for most other sex offenses. The bill mirrors Republican Rep. Dan Griffey's House Bill 1231. Dan's been an incredible leader on this issue.
  • House Bill 1166 will set a deadline of December 2021 for the WSP to eliminate the rape kit backlog.
  • House Bill 1784 will require the Department of Natural Resources to prioritize forest health treatments to specifically and strategically include long, narrow wildfire prevention corridors and provide the information to firefighting personnel.

While I wish there had been even more bipartisanship this session, the list of wins above shows just how much we can accomplish when we work together. However, in order to work together, we must be invited to the table. It's my hope the invitation will be extended often during the 2020 session.

Contacting me

The 2019 session is now over, but please know I'm here to serve you year-round. If you'd like to sit down with me to share your ideas for how we can make our district and state a better place to live, don't hesitate to reach out.

It is an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,


J.T. Wilcox

State Representative J.T. Wilcox
2nd Legislative District
RepresentativeJTWilcox.com
335C Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
j.t.wilcox@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7912 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000