Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the bipartisan Tax Structure Work Group (TSWG) will be holding a virtual tax town hall for residents of several legislative districts, including the 2nd.
West Region | Legislative Districts: 2, 22, 23, 24, 26, 35
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
6:30 – 8:00 p.m. | Sign up here
The TSWG is comprised of state lawmakers, as well as representatives from the Governor's Office, the Washington State Department of Revenue, the Washington State Association of Counties, and the Association of Washington Cities. The goal of these town halls is for the TSWG to hear from individual taxpayers and business owners about the state's tax structure in a quest to make it “more equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent.”
As is evident every legislative session, there are different philosophies at play when it comes to taxes. Democrats have ignored the will of the people and increased taxes over the last three years, despite record tax collections. They have also passed regressive energy policies that will make life more expensive for Washingtonians by raising the cost of gas, heating, and goods. For our part, House Republicans have been speaking out against tax increases and actively supporting tax cuts. We will continue to do so during the 2022 legislative session.
I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to participate in tonight's town hall and make your voice heard.
A word about the governor's vaccine mandates
While I am vaccinated and have been encouraging others to make the same choice, I have also made it clear that I oppose the governor's vaccine mandates. I told him as much in a letter I authored with Senate Minority Leader John Braun back in August. I want people to get vaccinated, but firmly believe compulsion is a misguided strategy that may very well dissuade people who have been on the fence for a long time. Threatening people's jobs during these uncertain times is especially cruel, and will have the negative consequence of sowing further distrust in government.
House Republicans have received thousands of messages from constituents who are also against these mandates. We are doing our best to respond to these communications in a timely manner. We also continue to strategize about how we're going restore the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches during the upcoming legislative session. There is no question our executive branch needs the ability to respond quickly to pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies. However, one person should not be able to act unilaterally for months or years on end without input from all three branches of government.
One reason why there's so much turmoil and distrust at the moment is because people feel like their voice doesn't matter. They don't recognize or like what's going on with their government. That's why emergency powers reform will continue to be one of our top agenda items going forward.
To date, we have:
- made emergency powers reform one of our legislative priorities;
- sponsored legislation, pushed to move it forward, and debated it on the House floor;
- discussed the issue at several news conferences;
- advocated for a more open Capitol Campus and inclusive 2021 legislative session;
- shared news and our views on social media, including Facebook and Twitter;
- participated in radio programs and sent out radio releases;
- written opinion pieces;
- met with editorial boards and even won some over;
- sent letters to the governor;
- hosted Zoom and telephone town halls;
- publicly opposed vaccine mandates;
- called for special sessions;
- responded to constituent questions about the governor's authority and Legislature's limited role during emergencies; and
- countless other communications, including email updates and videos.
We will not give up on this issue, I promise you that.
My recent appearance on The Impact
Late last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with TVW's Austin Jenkins for a wide-ranging discussion on the redistricting process, the ongoing pandemic, public safety, emergency powers reform, and more. I encourage you to take some time to watch the segment and let me know what you think.
The Democrats' police reform bills have made communities less safe
During my discussion with Austin, one of the topics that came up was police reform. Throughout the legislative process, Republicans warned the reforms in the bills (House Bills 1054 and 1310) being pushed by the majority would lead to disaster, and that's exactly what has happened.
These headlines tell the story:
- Bonney Lake officers say new reform laws kept them from tracking armed suspect
- Man jumps onto cop car, allegedly hits officer who was following police reform rules
- They had probable cause after he made threats, but law prevented Bellingham police pursuit
- Trying to follow new state laws, WSP shut down I-82 Sunday rather than removed woman from roadway
- Deputies searching for suspect after man shot dead in Puyallup parking lot
- State Patrol says troopers were unable to pursue wrong way driver because of new law
- DV suspect evades police as officers adhere to legislative changes
- Tri-Cities woman slashes tires on 3 cop cars. New law kept police from stopping her sooner
It is unacceptable that the Legislature has made it harder for our men and women in law enforcement to do their jobs, while enabling criminals to escape justice. Republicans have called for a special session to address the problems in House Bills 1054 and 1310, but the governor and leaders in the majority have insisted on taking a wait-and-see approach.
House Republicans will continue to work on fixes to these bills, which we'll introduce ahead of next year's session, as well as other standalone legislation to solve our law enforcement recruitment and retention crisis. It is a tragedy that Washington ranks 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the number of police officers per thousand people. That needs to change, and House Republicans are going to be leading the effort to ensure that it does.
The majority's new long-term care insurance tax should be repealed
There continues to be confusion and anger over the majority's new long-term care insurance tax (WA Cares Fund). As this Washington State Wire article reveals, there are already concerns about the program's financial viability and fairness. A bipartisan group of state senators recently sent a letter to the governor asking him to suspend the new tax.
Democratic Sen. Christine Rolfes has said she is troubled by the fact she hasn't heard from any constituents who are excited about the program. She has also said a special session may be needed to postpone or make changes to the program. I continue to believe it needs to be repealed outright. It should be your personal choice if you want this type of insurance, not something mandated by the state.
House Republican staff created this web page, which includes frequently asked questions, to help you understand this new program and payroll tax. We will continue to update it as more information becomes available, including legislation we are proposing related to the program.
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.
It is an honor to serve you.