Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This is the third week of the short, 60 day session. It's quite clear that voters are engaged on state issues this year because Sharon and I have been responding to hundreds of constituent emails.
Reading through my emails this session, I am seeing more comments from my constituents on specific bills than at any other time in my six years as your representative. The issue I've received the most email on is the 2nd Amendment, as more than 600 residents of the 2nd District have written to me on this topic. There have been a number of bills introduced this year that I believe infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Washingtonians. It's good to be concerned because these bills range from those that would enact a tax on ammunition, all the way to outlawing certain types of firearms owned by thousands of people across the state.
People who live in small towns and rural areas know that in an emergency the police are often 30 to 45 minutes away and nobody should be a helpless victim. The ability to own a firearm can be the difference in protecting lives and property and I do not support these attempts to infringe upon your constitutional right to bear arms. We in the House Republican Caucus can defeat these bills, but only if the public continues to remain actively engaged in opposing them with email, letters and testimony at hearings.
I am also hearing from quite a few of you regarding the recent rules change affecting public and private showers, locker rooms and bathrooms made by the 5 appointed board members of the Human Rights Commission. The ruling, which took effect last month, has raised many concerns including the safety and privacy of women and children in public locker rooms. While safety is always a top priority, I am also concerned about government overreach and the lack of accountability coming from the executive branch of state government. The commission made these changes based on sparsely attended public meetings several years ago and it also became apparent that the Human Rights Commission had failed to even update their website for public information and input for many months.
This lack of accountability was on display in the House General Government and Information Technology Committee last week. My colleagues Rep. Drew MacEwen and Rep. Michelle Caldier were given only four minutes to ask the director of the commission about the rule-change process and why there was almost no effort made to get the public involved. Here's a video of the exchange. This testimony shows that we have an executive branch in chaos because its leadership is unable to manage the operations of state government and doesn't respect the public enough to legitimately consider their input.
What's even more disturbing is that in their testimony the commission claimed they only received a few comments from the public regarding the rule change. They also claimed they could not post the rule changes on their website because they were locked out of it. It is very plain that they simply chose to impose this change as far under the radar as possible. I have received dozens of emails from concerned constituents as have other representatives, and earlier this week, more than 300 people showed up to a Senate hearing on a bill to repeal the rule. Yet, in the House, the majority party is refusing to hear bills on this issue altogether. Shutting the public out of the process is not good government. The public process serves to alert policymakers if they are making a mistake and it also promotes a public conversation that can often lead to useful compromises.
In addition to serving the 2nd District as your representative, I also serve as the House Republican Caucus Floor Leader. As Floor Leader, I am responsible for helping craft the message that House Republicans share when debating bills. This week, we were able to advocate for taxpayers by offering House Joint Resolution 4215, which would allow the voters to consider a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3's majority vote to raise taxes. The ongoing court challenge to I-1366 makes a constitutional amendment our best option to ensure the will of the voters is implemented, and not ignored. I know this is something the people of Washington care about because they have voted for this measure six times, including last November when I-1366 was passed in 34 out of 49 legislative districts across the state, including the 2nd District.
Unfortunately, the majority party voted down the proposed amendment 49-48, however we will continue to pursue this objective throughout the session.
Putting in the extra work as Floor Leader is rewarding because I know we are fighting for issues you care about. I take this job seriously, and will continue to advocate on your behalf. Hearing directly from you helps me quite a bit when it comes to the message we share, so I hope you will continue to call, write and visit to let me know your thoughts.