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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Day 60 of the 2016 legislative session ended without an agreement on a supplemental operating budget. House Republicans have said from the beginning passing a budget was a top priority, so it’s disappointing to complete the regular session without funding in place to address the historic wildfires and other issues facing our state. We now head into yet another special session as negotiations continue.

As legislators prepared for the seventh special session since Gov. Jay Inslee took office in 2013, the governor followed through on his promise to veto bills in an attempt to punish the Legislature. The bills vetoed by the governor were passed by strong, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and some of the bills were requested by the governor himself. This decision only hurts the people of Washington who would be helped by these bills becoming law. The Columbian editorial page said it best this morning: “Attempting to coerce legislators into doing their job by threatening to not do yours is nonsensical.”

Rep. JT Wilcox working on the House floorIn my most recent video update, I shared my thoughts on what a final, compromise budget should include and how we could accomplish it. To watch the short video, click here.

Compromise is part of the legislative process. As we approached the last day of session, the House took up a bill to save the eight public charter schools serving more than 1,000 students across the state. The debate was vigorous and healthy. Thanks to 48 disciplined and motivated Republicans and a handful of Democrats, including some of the finest among them, House Republicans controlled the floor in order to pass this bill, which was opposed by a strong majority of Democrats.

Here are a few other important things that happened during the debate:

  • House Democrats proposed 27 amendments, several of which were eventually withdrawn. Some amendments were intended to improve the bill and some were designed to cripple it. Although several were out of scope and object, we chose an open debate rather than attempting to squash them.
  • House Republicans and their Democratic allies accepted more than one-third of the remaining amendments, showing that we are absolutely committed to listening to the other side and improving legislation.
  • One amendment was initially on our list to reject, however after listening to the debate, our leadership team decided a strong case was made and asked our caucus to accept the amendment, which they did. This is such a rare and refreshing occurrence that I was later asked at the press table about it.
  • House Republicans behaved throughout the debate with perfect decorum, refusing to be baited by provocations from the other side and showing courtesy and respect in every word and deed.
  • House Democrats experienced the frustration of a powerless minority, something House Republicans are very familiar with. The exasperation on a few occasions expressed itself in speeches not related to the bill and some impugning of other members’ motives, which we mostly ignored, but once responded to with a point of order.
  • Because of the critical and unique nature of the legislation, both Reps. Drew Stokesbary and Hans Zeiger came in to vote and speak, within hours of becoming fathers. Their floor speeches were full of the passion you would expect from new fathers who want a strong education system for their children, and opportunity for all students in Washington.

The debate on final passage was marked by some of the strongest speeches seen in years in this chamber, in particular by Democrat Eric Pettigrew and Republican Kevin Parker.

Rep. JT Wilcox on the House floorAs you can probably tell, I was particularly proud to be in this chamber that night and to be a House Republican. A Republican majority, as evidenced by this debate, would be characterized by good policy, openness to ideas from the other side and respect for decorum and the effective functioning of government as laid down in the constitution.

As we begin special session, I remain confident we will walk out of Olympia with a budget that meets the needs of our state and respects tax payers.

As always, please contact my office anytime with your questions and comments. It’s an honor to serve you in our state Legislature.


J.T. Wilcox

State Representative J.T. Wilcox, 2nd Legislative District
122A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7912 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000