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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the last day of the 2022 legislative session — or “sine die.” This term is used to describe the adjournment of the Legislature. Considering the number of bad bills approved and good bills rejected this session by the majority party, an adjournment might be best.
For the past several days, lawmakers have been voting on the state's three main budgets and ironing out differences in bills amended in the opposite chamber. To learn more about what's happening in Olympia, please look for my end-of-session wrap-up sometime next week.
In the meantime, to keep you updated and informed, please join me for an online legislative briefing this Saturday, March 12, starting at 4 p.m. Along with sharing a recap of the legislative session, I'll answer your questions live.
What: A legislative briefing with Rep. Jim Walsh
When: Saturday, March 12, starting at 4 p.m.
2022-23 Supplemental Operating Budget
This is a terrible budget. Bad for the 19th District and especially bad for public safety. The state's Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County gives at-risk youth (teens and young adults who've gotten in some trouble with the law but aren't yet hardened criminals) the chance to get away from their neighborhoods, finish high school or get a GED and learn the value of structure, discipline, and self-worth.
But some elected officials in Olympia want to defund the Camp. Their ideology holds that at-risk youth should stay in their neighborhoods — the same neighborhoods where the youth got in trouble in the first place. Those ideologues put language in the House supplemental operating budget defunding the Naselle Youth Camp.
During our House floor debate over the 2022-23 supplemental operating budget, I was able to negotiate that defunding language out. The House budget that passed off of the floor allowed Naselle Youth Camp to keep doing its good work. The state Senate budget never had that language in it, so we seemed to be in a good place. Then, during last-minute “conference committee” negotiations between the House and Senate, someone sneaked the defunding language back into the final budget.
This is sneaky, shady, late-night politics. It's not good government. And I'm dedicated to ending this “business as usual” in Olympia.
2022-23 Supplemental Capital Budget
With only two days to spare, legislators in the House and Senate approved the state's 2022-23 supplemental capital budget. The $1.5 billion spending plan, which makes investments across that state in critically needed infrastructure and public buildings, passed with strong bipartisan support.
I'm glad to report that once again, we've done well in Olympia's capital budget process. It was a pleasure to work with Sen. Jeff Wilson and Rep. Joel McEntire to get more than $4.1 million in local 19th District projects approved in this final budget.
Take a look:
- Veteran Housing and Resource Center (Raymond), $2.3 million;
- Wahkiakum School District facility accessibility needs, $515,000;
- Westport Marina gear yard (Westport), $412,000;
- Pacific County Fair Three M Project (Raymond), $412,000;
- Vandercook Park restroom (Longview), $309,000;
- Longview Senior Center roof and energy upgrades (Longview), $273,000;
- Community/Technical College system, minor works, $259,000;
- CHOB electrical upgrade to emergency shelter (Longview), $258,000;
- 5970 #1 Bridge Replacement, $250,000;
- Veteran Housing at Stratford Apartments (Longview), $206,000;
- 5973 Bridge Replacement, $200,000;
- Beaver Creek Hatchery, renovation, $135,000; and
- Rister Stadium elevator lift (Kelso), $33,000.
Read the summary and budget bill here.
Review district project reports here.
Senate Bill 5078 | Firearm magazine ban
In a serious affront to responsible, legal gun ownership, Democrats in the House and Senate passed legislation banning the sale, manufacture, or transfer of firearms magazines able to hold over 10 rounds.
Senate Bill 5078 passed the House with a vote of 55-42, with no support from Republicans. Instead, we offered 22 amendments and debated for more than 3 hours. You can watch a video compilation of our floor speeches here.
As I stated in a press release published shortly after the Senate Bill 5078's passage in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, this is a bad bill. It exploits people's emotions, rather than appealing to their reason. It violates the Washington State Constitution by impairing the people's rights to keep and bear firearms. And it puts in place an unenforceable series of restrictions on gun ownership that will limit what law-abiding people can do while offering no practical limit on what felons do.
Property crimes in Washington state are increasing, violent crimes too. In response to these dangers to public safety, more Washingtonians than ever are buying guns to protect themselves from violence and crime. Senate Bill 5078 infringes on their ability to do that.
This bill punishes good people. It puts irrational limits on their ability to train and improve their proficiency using firearms. It also weirdly restricts their ability to share firearms with family members and friends. With crime rates rising, this policy makes no sense.
We need real solutions to society's problems. This bill only makes those problems worse.
You can watch my remarks during the House floor debate on Senate Bill 5078 here.
Capital gains income tax ruled unconstitutional
When the Democrats proposed and approved the capital gains income tax in 2021, I argued it was unconstitutional. Last week, a Douglas County Superior Court judge agreed. In Judge Brian C. Huber's ruling, he rejected the state's argument that the capital gains tax is an excise tax. Instead, he said the tax is “properly characterized as an income tax” pursuant to applicable Washington case law.
“As a tax on the receipt of income, ESSB 5096 is also properly characterized as a tax on property pursuant to that same case law,” Huber wrote. “This Court concludes that ESSB 5096 violates the uniformity and limitation requirements of Article VII, sections 1 and 2 of the Washington State Constitution.”
This issue is not settled though. Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his office would appeal. Democrats have fought hard for new tax increases, including the long-term care insurance payroll tax, and are standing by them. You can find a list of these bills here.
Democratic-sponsored transportation package
Democrats' 16-year, $16.8 billion transportation package just got a bit more expensive. Why? Because to fund it, they replaced their originally proposed six-cent-per-gallon tax on exported fuel with a more than $100 million transfer from the state's Public Works Assistance Account. That's a bad idea.
The revolving Public Works account provides low- and no-interest loans to cities and counties to pay for infrastructure vital to public health and safety. It helps fund local projects such as water, sewer, and broadband, so communities can build housing and create economic opportunities.
Raiding this funding shifts the costs of the transportation package to local communities. This will decrease economic opportunities and increase fees and rates on services like water and utilities, among others.
Republicans offered several options, but none of them were considered. Read more about our proposals here.
Senate Bills 5974 and 5975 are related to the Democrats' Move Ahead Washington transportation proposal. Both bills passed the House despite a lengthy floor debate.
Stay in touch!
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about state government-related matters, please contact me.
It's an honor to serve you!
428 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7806 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000