Dear Friends and Neighbors,
From day one of this year's 60-day legislative session, House Republicans have been working to fix problems that were created by legislation passed (or not passed, in some cases) by the majority in previous sessions. The troubled long-term care insurance program, the affordable housing crisis, the confusion created by last year's “police reform” bills, and the lack of meaningful tax relief are all problems in need of real solutions. That was the subject of my latest video update, which I recorded earlier today. You can watch it here or by clicking below.
In 2019, nearly 63 percent of voters expressed their desire to repeal the long-term care insurance program, and more than 450,000 workers have opted out of it. Even so, the majority decided that an 18-month pause was the best course of action. For our part, House Republicans proposed repealing the program and replacing it with an affordable and optional alternative. Rep. Drew Stokesbary's House Bill 1913 would have given you the freedom to choose what's best for you and your loved ones when it comes to long-term care coverage. As it stands, we have an 18-month pause. That won't make the program any more popular, solvent or adequate than it is now, but it does allow for the possibility that a wiser Legislature in the future could pass a repeal and replace bill.
Another issue that's still very much up in the air is how far the majority is willing to go to fix the disastrous police reform bills they passed last year. These bills have created confusion, hindered our law enforcement professionals, and allowed some criminals to escape justice. They have also contributed to our ongoing law enforcement recruitment and retention crisis. It is inexcusable that Washington ranks last in the nation in terms of the the number of police officers per thousand people. We have to do better, and House Republicans believe we can do better. Our Safe Washington plan prioritizes public safety, supports our men and women in law enforcement, and cracks down on criminal activity. Until the final gavel comes down this session, we will continue advocating for common-sense public safety policies to keep you and your family safe.
We also want to provide tax relief this session, whether through a large property tax cut, expanding the Working Families Tax Credit, or some other means. I was glad to see Democrat Sen. Mona Das propose a 1% sales tax reduction last week. In past sessions, that would have been unheard of. I hope she fights hard for that bill, because House and Senate Republicans have been pushing for meaningful tax relief for years. With such a large budget surplus, it's time for the Legislature to deliver.
Finally, we continue working hard to pass emergency powers reform. It's been 699 days since the governor declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and began ruling the state unilaterally. Earlier this session, Rep. Chris Corry introduced a bill that would allow legislative oversight during states of emergency that last longer than 60 days. While the bill is scheduled to receive a public hearing on Monday, it's important to have realistic expectations about its chances of advancing out of committee. As much as I would like for the majority to support a Republican bill that truly ends the current state of emergency, that's not likely to happen. Even so, anyone who cares about restoring the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches should make their voice heard and comment on the bill in advance of the hearing.
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.