Feb. 4, 2022
Hello Friends and Neighbors,
We’re at a point in the 2022 session when bills begin to stall – or “die,” as some put it – because there isn’t enough support to move them forward. This can happen for several reasons. For instance, a bill may need more work to resolve stakeholder concerns. Sometimes it’s simply because a bill conflicts with the preferences of the committee chair or the majority side (that’s why my emergency-powers reform legislation has been ignored).
Yesterday was the deadline for Senate policy committees to act on Senate bills. Many of the bills that cleared the policy hurdle in time also have implications for the state operating budget, so they’ve now moved on to our Senate Ways and Means Committee. Monday is the deadline for that committee to act on bills. Then the Senate committees will take a break as we move to the “floor” of the Senate chamber to debate and vote as a full Senate.
One category of legislation is exempt from the deadlines in the session calendar: bills that are labeled as necessary to implement the budget, or “NTIB.” SB 5463 and SB 5769, my bills to provide major tax relief, are examples of measures that are eligible for this label.
That said, it’s still hard to tell if my colleagues in the Democratic majority have any real interest in tax-relief legislation this year – even though they should, considering how much extra money is in the state treasury. Remember, the budget surplus is already at more than $10 billion, and three-quarters of that is ongoing money rather than “one-time” money, as some are inaccurately claiming (click here to view how I explained that to the news media this week).
That brings me to your interests, which many of you expressed through my online survey. Thank you for participating! Here are the results.
Survey says: Lower taxes are top priority
The “other” category had a larger percentage of responses than I expected, but after reading the comments, most went into more detail about some of the Q1 choices – or they anticipated topics that came later in the survey.
Survey says: 85% don’t feel safer
Here’s a response in the “other” category that stood out:
“I feel safe. That said, the restrictions went too far. I think we need reforms. Somewhere in the middle. We’ve given our police all of our problems including mental health. Our police don’t get paid enough to put their lives in unnecessary danger. The job needs to be less soul draining.”
The survey didn’t bring up the number of communities that have seen their law-enforcement ranks dwindle in the past couple of years, just as the number of both property and violent crimes in our state has jumped to either recent or record highs. I’m sponsoring SB 5841 to get more officers on patrol – the details are in the latest edition of my “Rational Steps” policy paper.
Survey says: One-person rule hasn’t worked for all of Washington
Close to 80 percent of those responding to my survey are ready for a change in the state law on emergency powers. That’s no surprise, knowing what people in our district have told me since the COVID state of emergency was declared more than 700 days ago.
SB 5909, the emergency-powers bill moved forward by the Senate state-government committee on Wednesday, is not nearly as responsive to public concerns as either of the real reforms I introduced (SB 5039 and SB 5943), which have bipartisan sponsorship. But I am looking forward to putting the better ideas in those bills forward as proposed amendments, should the Democrat majority bring its approach before the full Senate.
Survey says: Strong support for Second Amendment rights
The “other” responses to this question tended to expand on the choices presented, but one made a connection between this question and the earlier question on public safety:
“Too many restrictions and let’s focus on the criminals who could care less about the law and potentially kill someone who can’t defend themselves because they can’t in essence really use their gun…according to all the restrictions. ESPECIALLY since criminals are now embolden by these new restrictive law enforcement laws that are tying good law enforcement’s hands, as seen by upticks in crime.”
Legislation that would limit the amount of ammunition in a firearm’s magazine didn’t pass in the Senate in 2021, but SB 5078 was quickly returned to the voting calendar this year. In that sense, the bill is closer to passage than any meaningful fix to the crime-enabling restrictions imposed on law enforcement a year ago. Does that sound like the majority has its priorities straight?
Survey says: Long-term care program and payroll tax need to go
When I first asked this question, the majority had yet to pass its bill to simply delay this unpopular tax until mid-2023. But that doesn’t invalidate any of the responses. It tells me that my proposal to repeal the law (one of the pieces in my SB 5769) is on target, while nearly 11 percent of those answering would be OK with what the Democrats have done.
I would encourage the person who left the following comment in the “other” section to take a look at SB 5503, which I am co-sponsoring. It recognizes how the private sector may have something better to offer:
“Enabling and facilitating people to get viable long term care is a good idea. If they don’t have it they may well end up costing government and society anyway. However, government should figure out a better way to educate people and work with private insurance to make it affordable.”
Survey says: Don’t wait to discuss a third crossing
This final question produced the closest result – and not surprisingly, there was more PG-rated language sprinkled through the “other” comments than what I received for the rest of the questions. Several responses had a just-get-on-with-it tone, and others offered ideas for where a third crossing could be located. I appreciate them all.
My survey was launched a few days before I and other Clark County senators filed SB 5934, which basically calls for a study regarding a third bridge. It’s stuck in the Senate Transportation Committee, but identical policy sponsored by three Clark County representatives (HB 2084) did get a public hearing this week from the House Transportation Committee, so at least the conversation is under way at the legislative level.
Yours in service,
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