Dear Friends and Neighbors,
If there was ever a time to pass emergency powers reform, it was this week. On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman counties would be rolling back to Phase 2. That change went into effect yesterday. Frustratingly, part of the reason why Pierce County failed to meet the necessary metrics to stay in Phase 3 was because of a technical glitch by the state that resulted in the county under-ordering vaccines. Instead of allowing Pierce County to catch up, the governor moved it back to Phase 2 and then rejected Executive Bruce Dammeier's request for more vaccines.
Without emergency powers reform, the governor will continue to be able to rule unilaterally, making these major decisions without any outside input. Yesterday afternoon during floor action, House Republicans made a motion that would have brought up Rep. Drew MacEwen's emergency powers reform bill for a vote. Unfortunately, the majority party voted against the motion, eliminating the possibility for us to debate the merits of the proposal and potentially ending the opportunity for the Legislature to pass emergency powers reform this session.
MacEwen's House Bill 1557 is not a partisan bill. It would simply ensure adequate legislative involvement in long-lasting states of emergency. Specifically, the bill would cause a state of emergency to expire after 60 days unless renewed by the Legislature. It would also allow the Legislature to terminate a state of emergency on its own authority. I don't think anyone disagrees that the governor needs certain emergency powers, but there must be limits. Washingtonians were not meant to be governed by proclamation and executive order for months on end.
Incidentally, editorial boards across the state agree with our position.
- The Columbian: Legislature should act to balance government
- Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee's emergency powers over COVID have gone unchecked long enough
- The News Tribune: Curbing Inslee's emergency power all but dead. We should learn from Texas, New York
- Tri-City Herald: WA Gov. Jay Inslee has too much power over COVID. Lawmakers must fix the law
- The Seattle Times: A legislative check on the governor
- The News Tribune: It's time for Washington Legislature to check Gov. Inslee's pandemic superpowers
In my video update this week, I discussed emergency powers reform, but I also touched on the other major point of contention as we near the end of session: the dozens of tax and fee increases still on the table, including an income tax on capital gains. As I've said many times, we don't need new or higher taxes. Washington has seen greater revenue growth during the pandemic than any other state in the country.
As we've done all session, House Republicans will continue fighting against every proposal from the majority that would raise taxes and unnecessarily make your life more expensive.
Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7912.
I also encourage you to stay involved in the legislative process by following House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, visiting The Ledger, and utilizing the resources listed in this document. Finally, please bookmark my legislative website, where you can find my latest press releases, video updates, interviews, and more.
It is an honor to serve you.