Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this letter finds you well! Our district, stretching from Aberdeen to Longview along the western edge of our great state, includes a rich tapestry of industries and interests that define our unique regional identity. From the breathtaking beauty of the Olympic Peninsula’s coastline to the bustling heart of Longview, the 19th Legislative District thrives on diverse economic activities and cherished cultural values.
It is our solemn duty to protect and nurture this way of life. That’s why, as we step into November and the holiday season draws near, I’ve been focused on gearing up for the upcoming legislative session. My work is driven by the profound respect I hold for our community, and my commitment to work toward enhancing and safeguarding the way of life we all cherish.
Unfortunately, in the past year, our district—and the rest of our great state—have been significantly affected by rising inflation, making everyday goods and services more costly. As prices continue to surge, constituents from all corners of the district have reached out to me because they are struggling to maintain their households and pay their bills. These challenges weigh particularly heavily on those with fixed incomes or limited resources, further burdening those who can least afford it.
One stark example of these struggles is the skyrocketing gas prices we’ve witnessed in recent months. Washington state has faced some of the nation’s highest gas prices, even surpassing California over the summer. Coinciding with the state implementing the cap-and-trade program in January, gas prices have surged by more than $1 per gallon.
While some attribute these exorbitant prices to corporate greed, the program itself is the primary culprit. The cap-and-trade program forces companies to purchase pollution allowances, inevitably passing on these additional costs to consumers. As predicted, the financial impact on gas prices has been substantial. In August 2023, the carbon fee reached an astonishing $63.03, far exceeding initial estimates and directly affecting our wallets.
Moreover, this program, technically, doesn’t guarantee an overall reduction in pollution. It merely places a price on emissions and caps the total allowable amount, effectively shifting rather than decreasing pollution. Adding insult to injury, the program’s revenues are not channeled back into improving our transportation infrastructure, which is a critical need. Instead, these funds are allocated to various well-intentioned environmental initiatives. While the intent behind these endeavors is noble, it’s imperative to strike a balance between such projects and the fundamental interests and financial well-being of our citizens.
As I look ahead to the legislative session starting in January, one of my primary objectives is to push for the repeal of the cap-and-trade program. Other proposals, such as amendments or partial rebates to citizens, are on the table, but I firmly believe that this ill-conceived and inefficient program requires a fresh start. It must be repealed.
For more insights about the state’s cap-and-trade program, I recommend the following articles:
- Washington follows California above $5 a gallon as fuel prices surge nationwide
- Out of the smokestack, into the state budget
- Where is carbon auction money going in WA state? $1.41 billion
Gun rights and personal safety
In recent weeks, I’ve been in touch with numerous constituents, especially women, who have expressed genuine concerns about their personal safety amidst the backdrop of global events in the Middle East and escalating worries regarding crime rates, including incidents of assault, rape, and carjackings.
So, what can the Legislature do to enhance Washington state’s longstanding commitment to personal safety and security? In my view, part of the solution lies in revisiting some of the ill-conceived restrictions on an individual’s right to protect themselves responsibly through gun ownership. Article 1, Section 24, in our state constitution, recognizes the right of individuals to safeguard themselves and the state, emphasizing the importance of self-defense within the framework of state security.
Just as California’s three-decade-old ban on so-called assault weapons was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court, it’s likely that Washington’s unconstitutional gun restrictions may face a similar fate. In the California court case, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez recognized that modern semi-automatic rifles serve as tools for self-defense for millions of law-abiding citizens in the U.S., and that these citizens should not have their Second Amendment rights restricted.
While we await a court ruling here in Washington state, I am preparing legislative proposals aimed at eliminating these unconstitutional restrictions on the purchase of firearms, associated hardware, ammunition, and magazines for semi-automatic firearms.
Stay tuned for updates. When these bills are formally filed in December, I will provide more comprehensive details on my proposals. In the meantime, you can click the video link below to learn more about my efforts on this important issue.
Thoughtful property tax policy reform
Another critical focus for the upcoming session continues to be my commitment to reforming property tax calculations in our state. These essential reforms, long overdue but met with opposition from the majority party, remain a top priority for me. In 2023, I introduced House Bill 1092, which sought to assess all property at 75 percent of its true and fair value for state property tax levies. This reform is indispensable to ensure equity within our property tax system, ultimately benefiting both homeowners and businesses across our diverse district.
As we move forward, please stay tuned for further updates about this bill and other tax reform proposals in the weeks leading up to the 2024 session.
My commitment to serving you remains unwavering. Together, we can overcome hurdles that lie ahead and create a better future for all of us. Your feedback is essential to me, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office if you have any concerns, suggestions, or ideas about our state government.
It’s an honor to serve you!