Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I sent my last email update out on June 25, five days before our state was set to fully reopen. On June 30, Governor Inslee was in a celebratory mood, declaring: “We are open big time in the state of Washington.” Days later, he told a reporter: “We've won the Super Bowl of the COVID pandemic.”
Fast-forward to today, and the mood in Washington is anything but celebratory. As the pandemic continues, prizes for vaccinations have been replaced by the governor with a strict mandate that threatens vaccine-hesitant state employees, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and others with termination for noncompliance. We recently learned 600 more state workers have signed on to a lawsuit against the governor that seeks to overturn his mandate.
This outcome wasn't always inevitable. House Republicans worked tirelessly during this year's legislative session to pass emergency powers reform. We argued it was critical for the Legislature to have a role during this ongoing state of emergency, which is now in its 18th month. Majority Democrats disagreed, signaling to the governor that he could continue ruling unilaterally without having to worry about checks and balances. He has happily done so.
While I believe the governor's new mandate is wrong, I want to make one thing clear: I want people in the 8th District and around the state to get vaccinated. We need to win this battle and for life to get back to normal. I simply believe compulsion is a misguided strategy that will sow distrust and resentment.
No one in state government should have the unilateral authority to do whatever they want whenever they want. For Washington state to rank near the bottom of all states when it comes to governmental balance of power during emergencies is a serious problem, and it needs to be addressed during the 2022 legislative session.
This is far from the only major problem we face, however.
The police reform bills the Democrats passed during this year's session, House Bills 1054 and 1310, have created confusion, endangered our men and women in law enforcement, and enabled criminals to escape justice.
These headlines tell the story:
- Bonney Lake officers say new reform laws kept them from tracking armed suspect
- Man jumps onto cop car, allegedly hits officer who was following police reform rules
- They had probable cause after he made threats, but law prevented Bellingham police pursuit
- Trying to follow new state laws, WSP shut down I-82 Sunday rather than removed woman from roadway
- Deputies searching for suspect after man shot dead in Puyallup parking lot
- State Patrol says troopers were unable to pursue wrong way driver because of new law
- DV suspect evades police as officers adhere to legislative changes
- Tri-Cities woman slashes tires on 3 cop cars. New law kept police from stopping her sooner
For months, Republicans have been calling on the majority to hold a special session so we can fix the glaring problems in these bills. Our calls have been ignored, which means we'll have to wait until the start of the 2022 session to enact fixes. In the meantime, I fear we'll continue to see headlines like the ones above.
For more information on this ongoing crisis, click on the image below.
I also want to touch on one other point as it relates to these new police reform bills. If we continue to demonize our men and women in law enforcement and take away the tools they need to bring criminals to justice, we will continue to lose them to other professions and our communities will become less safe. Washington already ranks 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the number of police officers per thousand people. We need to focus on solutions to solve this crisis instead of making it worse through bills like HB 1054 and 1310.
Two virtual Tax Town Halls tomorrow, Sept. 29
Tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., the Tax Structure Work Group (TSWG) will be holding virtual Tax Town Halls for residents of the 8th Legislative District, as well as those in LDs 12, 13, 14 and 15.
The TSWG is comprised of state lawmakers, as well as representatives from the Governor's Office, the Washington State Department of Revenue, the Washington State Association of Counties, and the Association of Washington Cities. The goal of these town halls is for the TSWG to hear from individual taxpayers and business owners about the state's tax structure in a quest to make it “more equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent.”
While House Republicans have been looking to cut taxes, Gov. Inslee and legislative Democrats have passed new tax increases over the last three years – including a new payroll tax and a new income tax on capital gains. And they're not likely to stop there. You can find the complete list of their tax hikes here.
If you have time tomorrow, I encourage you to sign up for one of the town halls and make your voice heard.
Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Matt.Boehnke@leg.wa.gov, and my district office number is (509) 315-2315.
It is an honor to serve you.