Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've nearly completed the second week of the 105-day legislative session. The state House and Senate officially convened on Monday, Jan. 9, for opening ceremonies and the swearing-in of members. It was the first time in more than two years all 98 members were in the House chambers together. Once again, the public galleries and the House floor were filled with people.
It's good to see a sense of “normalcy” return to the state Capitol.
Legislative updates and redistricting
It's taken several days to prepare this update for delivery. Part of the delay was caused by the redistricting that took place last year. Those changes added new communities and constituents to the 19th District ― which required modifications to my email update list.
Washington state's 19th District has changed somewhat. Formerly the district included portions of Cowlitz, Lewis, and Grays Harbor counties and all of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. Much of that has remained the same; however, a portion of Thurston County has been added to the district.
Click here to view a map of the updated 19th Legislative District boundaries.
Those changes mean several readers may be getting this update for the first time. If that is the case, feel free to forward this update to your friends or let them know they can sign up for their own copy here. Alternatively, if you prefer not to get this information about the 19th District, each edition offers a user-friendly option to unsubscribe. You can find that option below.
It didn't take long for the majority party to begin another aggressive attack on legal gun ownership. This week, four unconstitutionally dubious gun bills were heard in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. As I outlined in a statement issued to the press before the hearing, these bills are a waste of Washington taxpayers' time and money. In fact, the bills are not constitutional, nor are they effective.
House Bills 1178, 1143, 1144, and 1240 violate the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution, clearly states, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired….”
And, as the governor and state attorney general should know, the U.S. Supreme Court's recently released Bruen decision makes these bills a moot point. The Bruen decision clearly and forcefully holds that state laws restricting gun rights are unconstitutional and must be thrown out.
These attacks on foundational rights to self-defense are about more than just guns. They are an attack on all foundational constitutional rights. Those rights include the right to free speech, privacy, property, travel, employment, freedom of conscience and religion. Your right to self-defense protects all of those other rights. The Declaration of Independence says that undermining these rights is “formidable to tyrants only.”
That's why we need to continue to fight these bills. Doing so protects the rights of all Washingtonians.
You can do so by contacting the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee members and sharing with them your opposition to these proposals. If you have questions on how to do that, contact my office. I'm happy to help.
My bills | 2023 session priorities
The Legislature faces several major public policy issues this session. You've probably already seen many of those issues in the headlines. One example is a much-needed “fix” to a law that limits when police can chase criminal suspects in their patrol cars.
In 2021, Democrats sponsored a bill that restricted vehicle pursuits to only those involving a high probability that a violent or sexual crime was being committed. After those restrictions were enacted, there was a dramatic increase in motorists simply driving away from traffic stops. Car thefts also jumped.
The good news is that this session, a bipartisan proposal, House Bill 1363, has been introduced to fix that problem. The bill changes the formerly unachievable standard of probable cause for pursuit and would allow officers to pursue suspected criminals.
Along with much-needed police reforms and unconstitutional attacks on Second Amendment rights, property taxes continue to rise, forcing some seniors out of their homes. For years, constituents have asked me to work on amending the state constitution to change how we handle property taxes. That's why I drafted House Joint Resolution (HJR) 4200.
HJR 4200 begins the process of not only amending the state constitution but would radically change how we calculate and manage property taxes. My proposal would allow a “California Proposition 13” type of property tax system whereby the assessed taxable value of certain residential real estate would be set at the time of sale or when significant improvements are made. The assessed taxable value could not be raised until the property is sold again.
Click here to read more about HJR 4200.
Other “hot” button issues this session include growing K-12 educational failures. The latest National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) revealed that Washington public schools now have the lowest testing result in the state's history. Other assessments show that public schools have failed to educate 62 percent of students in math and 49 percent in English.
That needs to change. We need bold reform that empowers families and their children with real educational choices. That's why I've proposed a family empowerment scholarship program, House Bill 1093, which would provide more choices for a quality elementary and secondary education.
Other bills I'm sponsoring include:
- House Bill 1397 — This bill was named after Oakley Carlson, a local 5-year-old girl last seen alive several months ago. Oakley's disappearance occurred after being removed from a foster home and placed with her parents. If passed, the bill would increase the standards for placing foster children with their parents after removal by child welfare services.
- House Bill 1154 — During the past three years, the executive branch abused the emergency powers the people of Washington granted that office. Among the most egregious were efforts to close churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions during the early months of the COVID outbreak. My bill would safeguard religious institutions from unconstitutional attacks during a period of a declared state of emergency in Washington state.
- House Bill 1071 — School Resource Officers (SROs) are a form of school-based policing similar to that of community policing that utilizes local public entity partnerships that bear on safety. My bill would fund an SRO at each school in the state.
- House Bill 1214 — Gender-transition procedures aren't safe or appropriate for children. My bill would protect children by restricting transgender medical procedures on minors under the age of 18 years.
- House Bill 1091 — This proposal would tie new taxes to the Advisory Votes on local ballots, ensuring that those taxes are not imposed without support from voters as well as the Legislature.
- House Bill 1037 — This proposal was first brought to me by tribal members living in the 19th District. It would allow people the right to use their property for family or private burials — with certain parameters. This bill would not allow family plots to be used as any sort of commercial venture.
In the news:
- 'Oakley Carlson Act' filed in the Washington Legislature (Fox13)
- 'Oakley Carlson Act' would bring additional oversight to child welfare cases (KXRO Radio)
- Rep. Jim Walsh: “The Legislature's top budget priority must be to provide tax relief to overtaxed Washingtonians” (Shift Washington)
- Walsh criticizes gun bills as unconstitutional ahead of committee hearing (The Chronicle)
- Legislature considers bill to ban assault weapons in Washington (The Spokesman-Review)
- Washington leaders look to increase school safety with more officers, staff during legislative session (The Daily News)
- Rep. Jim Walsh discusses bill protecting churches from closure with KXL's Lars Larson (Radio)
- Rep. Jim Walsh introduces House Joint Resolution to change how the state handles property taxes
- Rep. Jim Walsh shares remarks on the start of 2023 session (Video)
Click here to visit my newsroom for the latest releases and media interviews on these bills, and more.
19th District Virtual Town Hall
As we begin the session, it's important that we hear from you about the priorities and issues facing our communities.
Along with Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, and Rep. Joel McEntire, R-Cathlamet, I'll be hosting a 19th Legislative District Virtual Town Hall. The hour-long event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26, starting at 6 p.m.
This event is an excellent way to join us from the comfort of your home or office by simply logging onto your computer for an hour of conversation about the 105-day session. We'll discuss our bills and listen to your comments and ideas about state government.
Space is limited, so register early. If you cannot attend, don't hesitate to reach out to my office and schedule an appointment. My contact information is listed below.
Getting involved in the legislative process
To stay up to date on activities in Olympia, here are some links worth bookmarking:
- Visit my website | Representative Jim Walsh
- Follow me on Facebook | Representative Jim Walsh
- Follow Washington State House Republicans on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and SoundCloud
- Stay involved | How you can be involved in the Legislative process
- Visit the Washington State House Republican website
- A daily roundup of online news stories sent directly to your email | The Capitol Buzz
- Legislative news aggregator | The Ledger
- House Republican Caucus weekly newsletter | The Current
- Find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions | State agencies
- Main website | Washington State Legislature
Watch legislative proceedings
To watch House and Senate committee hearings, floor sessions, and other legislative business, go to tvw.org.
Click here to track the status of a bill. After entering a bill number, you can read the text of a bill, see the sponsors, the bill's history, and its status in both legislative chambers.
You can sign up to testify remotely if you cannot attend a committee hearing in person. You may also submit written testimony to a committee and get your position on a bill noted for the legislative record. Click here to learn more about participating in the process.
2023 Legislative calendar
The session opened on Jan. 9 and must adjourn by April 23. To see the session cutoff calendar, click here.
I am committed to staying connected with you as the session progresses. Please contact me if you have questions about bills being introduced, bills scheduled for a hearing, or other state government-related issues.
It's an honor to serve you!