Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now at the end of the second week of the 2020 legislative session. If you haven't been keeping tabs on the latest from Olympia, I encourage you to subscribe to the Capitol Buzz, a weekday summary of online news stories from across the state. I also recommend bookmarking our legislative news aggregator, The Ledger, which features House Republican news releases, op-eds, video updates, radio interviews, and more.
The three issues that have dominated this year's 60-day session so far are $30 car tabs, the state's homelessness crisis, and the majority's attempt to chip away at your Second Amendment rights.
Last week, several of our members introduced a comprehensive transportation package to implement $30 car tabs, establish a new permanent funding source for transportation, and cut WSDOT bureaucracy instead of projects. Those of us in the House Republican Caucus firmly believe the will of the people on I-976 should be respected, and we will continue making that clear to the majority.
As far as the homelessness crisis goes, the plan Gov. Inslee rolled out earlier this month is a non-starter. The governor wants to take $319 million from the state's rainy day fund (our fund for budget emergencies) and spend it on programs that have clear ongoing costs. That doesn't make any sense. We need long-term, results-oriented solutions backed by general fund dollars that combine compassion with enforcement and accountability. It is my hope Republicans and Democrats can come together this session to deliver on that.
Earlier this week, hearings were held on a number of gun bills that would hinder your Second Amendment rights:
- House Bill 2240 would ban the manufacture, possession, sale, etc. of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.
- House Bill 2241 would ban certain semi-automatic rifles and magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.
- House Bill 2519 would ban online sales of ammunition.
We don't know which of these bills, if any, have a chance to make it the governor's desk this session, but our caucus will do everything we can to prevent that from happening.
Ensuring secure ballot transmission for military and overseas voters
On Tuesday, I testified on my bill to ensure secure ballot transmission for military and overseas voters in future elections. Under House Bill 2111, which was requested by the Secretary of State's office last year, emailed and faxed ballots would no longer be accepted by election officials, thereby eliminating the risk of electronic ballot tampering by cybercriminals. Instead, military and overseas voters would continue receiving a paper ballot in the mail 45 days before an election. Alternatively, they would have the option to download and print a ballot to mail in.
Passage of this bill would mark yet another step forward in our state's efforts to mitigate possible security risks that could compromise the integrity of our elections. I believe it's imperative for the Legislature to continue working hand-in-hand with the Secretary of State's office on issues of election security.
Seeking to position Washington as a leader in the new space economy
I've sponsored a number of bills this session that seek to bolster Washington's space industry and position our state as a leader in the new space economy.
House Joint Memorial 4015 requests Congress to establish a U.S. Space Academy in Washington to support the mission of Space Force, the nation's newest military branch. A devoted space academy to train and equip our workforce for the civilian opportunities and military missions of the future in space would benefit the nation and be a boon to our state's space industry.
House Bill 2665 would create a business and occupation tax credit for qualified research and development (R&D) expenditures in advanced spacecraft manufacturing. It would also defer state and local sales tax on the construction or expansion of eligible R&D or pilot scale manufacturing facilities, as well as on qualified machinery and equipment purchases related to R&D.
Finally, House Bill 2596 would direct the state's Department of Commerce to complete a study of public policies that would help develop the new space economy in Washington. The study would also look at the geographic distribution of potential employment and training opportunities. Results would be required to be submitted to the Legislature by October 31, 2021.
These bills will be heard next week in the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee.
House Page Program
Here in the House, students ages 14 to 16 have an excellent opportunity to get involved in their state government by serving as a page for a week. To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor and obtain written permission from their parents and school. If you know of a student who would be a good applicant, please send me an email.
To learn more about the House Page Program, click here.
As always, please feel free to contact me any time to share your comments, questions and concerns about this year's legislative session or anything else that's on your mind. I look forward to hearing from you.