Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've reached the end of the 2020 legislative session. However, a lot happened in a short amount of time. In this update, I want to recap some of the major things that occurred during the last two months and let you know about my plans for the interim.
But before I get into that, I want to thank you all again for your continuous input. As your elected representative, it's my job to take your concerns, questions, and ideas to Olympia and be your voice with state lawmakers. So, thank you for all the meetings, phone calls, and emails throughout this session. Your input is vital, and it helped me shape important policy ideas and decisions.
As you know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a major issue. Although, we continue to discourage fear and panic, we are aware of how serious this virus is, and its implications. It is affecting each one of us and our families in countless ways, but we must keep doing everything we can to fight it.
The House and Senate already passed a bill that would direct $175 million from the state's reserves to fight the outbreak and another $25 million to assist small businesses that have been affected. Our caucus fought hard to see this provision included, as small businesses have been taking a huge hit from the outbreak. We also included a provision that any federal dollars granted to the state, would be used to replace the dollars that have been spent from the rainy-day fund.
As the number of cases continues to climb, there is also increased awareness and concern. So, the House Republican party has created a new web page specifically to provide you with the latest information and resources on coronavirus. We will update it frequently as new information and resources come forward. If you think something needs to be added, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, please remember to be diligent and vigilant to stay safe and healthy. We want everyone to get through this the best we can.
Majority Chooses to Spend Most of Budget Surplus
Being the second year of the biennium, we did not have to negotiate and pass a two-year operating budget. However, there are always tweaks that need to be made to the current budget. This year, we learned, just prior to the release of the proposed supplemental operating budget that we would have a massive surplus.
According to the latest state revenue forecast, Washington was expected to have a $2.4 billion budget surplus in 2020, thanks to a booming economy and an overall reduction in the need for state services.
However, because of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of the impact it will have on our economy, now is the time to be very cautious with our surplus. We should be looking for ways to save and invest.
This is the “rainy day” we always talk about. Unfortunately, the majority party's final budget calls for spending more than $1.5 billion of that surplus. This is the kind of unsustainable spending we need to stop.
It's bad planning and it does nothing to help prepare us for an emergency, like the coronavirus outbreak. It also sets us up for future financial problems if our economy takes even the slightest downturn. If we aren't collecting enough taxes to cover the rampant spending, then it won't take long for the majority to look for new ways to raise our taxes, again.
It's time to curb spending, give money back to working families in Washington, and put more money away for a rainy day. I strongly believe our state government should use what it has more wisely, before it takes more, or carelessly spends an unexpected surplus. This won't be the last coronavirus-type situation we will face.
Update on Sponsored Bills
As with any session, I sponsored several pieces of legislation this year. I'm proud of the hard work and effort put into these bills. Many of them advanced out of committee and several passed the full House. We made great strides on subjects like reducing burdens associated with occupational licensing and promoting and expanding our manufacturing industry in Washington state.
I'll continue to work on these policies during the interim, and many others that also matter to you. We have laid the groundwork for success in 2021. Together, we have to keep pushing for good legislation for Washington.
Comprehensive Sex Education Passes
We considered several issues this year on the floor, but perhaps the most controversial topic was comprehensive sex education. The majority party passed Senate Bill 5395 despite hours of debate against it and after rejecting 29 Republican amendments that would have improved the bill. This legislation would make sexual health education mandatory for all students in Washington K-12.
Hundreds of concerned parents, teachers, and citizens showed up in Olympia to protest this bill. Thousands more called or emailed their representatives to oppose it. Unfortunately, it was also passed by the Senate and now sits on the governor's desk awaiting his signature to become law. Here's some more information and facts about this bill.
Gun Bills: We Stand for Second Amendment Rights
Second Amendment rights is always a hot-button issue, and this year was no different. Minority lawmakers were able to stop several gun bills this session, the most controversial of which was House Bill 2240. This bill never made it to the House floor thanks in large part to more than 100 Republican amendments to change the bill.
The majority party made a last ditch effort to revive the legislation by placing a fiscal note on it and reintroducing it as House Bill 2947 after the policy cutoff date. However, it never made it to the floor. Owning and bearing firearms is a foundational right of law-abiding citizens, and we must always work to protect that right.
Both bills would have placed significant restrictions on legal firearm owners and quite possibly could've turned law-abiding citizens into criminals overnight. Our caucus is working hard to make sure that those who have abused this right are justly punished, while protecting those of us who are law-abiding citizens.
Stay in Touch During the Interim
Just because the legislative session has adjourned, that doesn't mean I'm going into hiding. I represent you all year-round. So please keep reaching out to me. Your feedback is extremely important for me to do my job in Olympia.
This interim, I plan to be out meeting with constituents, taking tours of schools, businesses, and facilities, and speaking with groups or organizations. I'm also available to listen to your ideas, answer your questions, and be your voice with our state government.
You can contact my district office to schedule a time to meet or have me speak to your group or organization. My legislative assistant is Peter Gilmour and my district office phone number is 360-723-0704.
I look forward to meeting with you in the 18th District this interim.
To read this email update in another language, visit my website and click on the red “TRANSLATE” button in the lower left-hand corner to select your language.