Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After a long interim in which no special sessions were called to solve some of the major challenges facing our state, it's nice to finally be in session. House Republicans are already hard at work and focused on the issues you care about. Yesterday, I recorded a video update in which I highlighted a number of our legislative priorities this year. You can watch it here or by clicking below.
Our overall mission this session is to develop and pass legislation that makes daily life more affordable for you and your family, strengthens communities throughout the state by making public safety a priority, holds state government accountable, and empowers parents to help their children succeed in school and in life. An overview of our bills that fit within these four main priorities is below.
Providing tax relief and making life more affordable for all Washingtonians
Returns $2 billion back to taxpayers through a reduction and rebasing of the state levy from overcollections from 2018-2022, occurring because property values have risen much faster than anticipated when legislation was passed in 2017. If House Bill 1898 is not adopted, an additional $3 billion in overcollection will occur between 2023-2027.
Repeals the payroll tax and wholly inadequate and insolvent benefit from the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Act. Learn more about the program and payroll tax here.
Repeals the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Act and associated payroll tax, replacing it with a privately-managed program that leverages the state's existing revenue to make long-term care coverage both affordable and optional.
Expands and enhances the Working Families Tax Credit by expanding income eligibility, doubling the base payment, and increasing the minimum benefit for working families with children.
Lowers Washington's main business tax rate for manufacturing and trucking by 40%, and extends and expands an existing tax preference for food processing.
Strengthening communities by making public safety a priority and supporting effective community policing
Rolls back a number of harmful provisions passed in last year's “police reform” bills, restoring tactics and tools to help police bring criminals to justice and keep communities safe.
Eliminates the disastrous probable cause requirement for vehicular chases of criminal suspects, allowing peace officers to engage in a vehicular pursuit when there is reasonable suspicion a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a criminal offense.
Provides funding for signing bonuses, retention bonuses, body cameras for local agencies, and additional Criminal Justice Training Commission classes to get officers trained and ready more quickly.
In Washington, it is not against the law to hide stolen retail goods under one's clothing. This bill amends the definition of theft to include the concealment of the property of another when the intent is to deprive the other person of its use or benefit.
Requires that catalytic converters be added to the list of items for which sales records must be kept by scrap metal dealers, prohibits the sale of catalytic converters by anyone other than a commercial enterprise or the private owner of the vehicle, and increases the seriousness of repeated offenses.
Holding state government accountable, improving outcomes, and enacting emergency powers reform
Modeled after a variety of emergency powers statues utilized in almost every state in the nation, this bill increases legislative involvement during states of emergency, allowing for legislative oversight on states of emergency that last longer than 60 days.
Provides $200 million per year to cities to combat homelessness, provided they ban injection sites and clean up encampments near schools and parks.
Requires every new state spending program that meets certain criteria to include an expiration date, performance statement, and data requirements to measure the effectiveness of the program.
Requires agencies to regularly “zero-base” their budgets to better prioritize spending , and then submit that analysis to the governor and Legislature. This bill would help constrain the growth of government and improve outcomes.
A suite of bills to make Washington's transportation system safer and function better for travelers. Instead of raising taxes, these bills reprioritize our current budget surplus to pay for transportation projects.
Empowering parents by providing transparency and the necessary financial and educational flexibility to help their children succeed in school and in life
Requires regular and special meetings of school boards to be recorded, and must include the comments of the board and members of the public if testimony was taken at the meeting. Recordings must be provided to the public upon request.
Establishes an educational scholarship program of $10,000 for 100,000 homeschooled and private school students to cover costs associated with alternative education, such as books and learning materials, transportation, and tuition fees.
Establishes a homeschool and private school voucher program of $7,000 for 130,000 students to cover costs associated with alternative education. One quarter of these scholarships would be awarded to students within special populations, such as students experiencing homelessness.
We are also working on a bill to increase transparency in the classroom by requiring teachers to make syllabi and primary materials available on the school district's website.
Staying connected and contacting me
I want to encourage you to stay engaged in the legislative process this session by following House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, visiting The Ledger, and utilizing the resources listed in this document. TVW's “Legislative Review” is also a great resource, as it airs nightly during session and gives viewers a 15-minute overview of what happened that day at the Capitol. Finally, please bookmark my legislative website, where you can find my latest press releases, video updates, interviews, and more.
I also encourage you to reach out to me any time with comments, questions, concerns, bill ideas, or anything else that's on your mind. My email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7912.
It is an honor to serve you.