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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last Wednesday marked house of origin cutoff, which means bills that were not voted out of the chamber in which they were introduced are now considered “dead” for the year. In the run-up to this deadline, we spent long hours on the House floor voting on more than 300 bills.

As your representative and as House Republican floor leader, one of my top priorities during a busy week of floor action is to help advance legislation that would provide a boost to the rural economy. The way to do that is by helping good bills pass off the floor, and by stopping bills that would be harmful to the communities House Republicans serve. Another key role I play is to help facilitate the adoption of amendments that turn bad bills into good (or at least less harmful) bills for our districts.

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, speaks on the House floor.

Additionally, I work with the entire caucus to make it clear to the majority party that when they're willing to accept our amendments, we're glad to work with them in facilitating smooth, functional government. I also make it clear that it's unacceptable when all of our bills are rejected. Although we have policy differences, with a 50-48 House, we should strive to work collaboratively.

While we do our best as the House Republican Caucus (HRC) to stop bad bills from going over to the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC), the fact is they're the only body in the Legislature that's able to stop (or amend) these bills. The HRC and the MCC don't always agree on everything, but I'm grateful for the role the MCC plays in protecting the communities House Republicans represent.

My latest legislative video update

In my latest legislative video update, which I recorded yesterday, I provide an overview of recent floor action and share my thoughts on the first half of the 2017 legislative session. Take a look!

Rep. J.T. Wilcox's Legislative Video Update: March 14, 2017

Hirst fix passes Senate

In a video update I recorded earlier this session, I talked about how the Hirst decision has already started to negatively affect individuals, families and land owners/developers in our rural communities. In a 28-21 vote on Feb. 28, the Senate passed Senate Bill 5239, which would restore the state's pre-Hirst policies and ensure water is available to support development. While the bill can certainly be strengthened, our top priority is to ensure it's not weakened by the majority party in the House.

House Republican members introduced several Hirst fixes this session, but only one bill was allowed to come to the floor for a vote — Rep. David Taylor's House Bill 1503. Taylor's bill, which passed the House 91-6 last Wednesday, would allow homeowner inspections of septic systems instead of requiring expensive professional inspections on every septic tank. This is a good bill that I'm hopeful will be approved by the MCC and sent to the governor's desk.

A list of Republican-sponsored bills still alive after cutoff

In my last email update, I listed a number of bills House Republicans put forward this session to emphasize our priorities as a caucus and to benefit our communities. Now that house of origin cutoff has passed, I wanted to provide an updated list of several of our bills that were approved in the House and sent over to the Senate for further consideration.

House Bill 1017 (Rep. Bob McCaslin) would modify the Growth Management Act so schools and school facilities could be built in rural areas. Passed 82-15.

House Bill 1058 (Rep. Drew MacEwen) would prioritize victim compensation by ensuring incarcerated criminal offenders pay court-ordered restitution to their victims. Passed 97-0.

House Bill 1120 (Rep. Norma Smith) would implement recommendations of a state audit that found inconsistencies and failures in state agency compliance with the Regulatory Fairness Act, a law that requires agencies to evaluate proposed rules to see if they have a disproportionate impact on small business. Passed 98-0.

House Bill 1155 (Rep. Dan Griffey) would eliminate the statute of limitations on certain felony sex offenses, including rape and rape of a child, child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and voyeurism. Passed 90-8.

House Bill 1258 (Rep. Gina McCabe) would allow individuals to submit information pertaining to an individual's disability to the Enhanced 911 program in order to enable dispatchers to deliver critical information to first responders during emergencies. Passed 97-1.

House Bill 1369 (Rep. Dave Hayes) would aid veteran employment by allowing veterans who have been honorably discharged to immediately gain the benefit of claiming veterans' preference points for civil service tests while transitioning to civilian life. Passed 96-0.

House Bill 1375 (Rep. Luanne Van Werven) would require community and technical colleges to include the cost of textbook and course materials to students at the time of registration. Passed 97-0.

House Bill 1444 (Rep. Michelle Caldier) would require school districts to facilitate on-time grade-level progression and graduation for homeless children, at-risk youth and children in need of services. Passed 98-0.

House Bill 1489 (Rep. Joel Kretz) would require the Department of Natural Resources to create a list of local individuals to call to help support wildfire suppression efforts in communities throughout Washington state. Passed 96-0.

House Bill 1504 (Rep. Liz Pike) would ensure access to short-line railroads and development for freight rail under the state's Growth Management Act in Clark, Yakima and Spokane counties. Passed 83-14.

Contacting me

Please continue to contact me with your questions, comments and concerns about the 2017 legislative session. It is an honor to serve you in the state House.


J.T. Wilcox

State Representative J.T. Wilcox, 2nd Legislative District
335C Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7912 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000