Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The past few weeks have flown by. We are now more than halfway through the legislative session. For several days, we have been spending long hours and late evenings on the House floor voting on bills. That's because we just passed another session deadline: house of origin cutoff. As of Wednesday, March 13th, all bills not approved by the chamber in which they originated are now considered “dead.” The only exceptions are bills necessary to implement the budget.
Although Republicans are in the minority, we continue to fight hard to defeat bad public policy proposals. This update includes a few examples of bad bills that made it through and one we managed to defeat.
Moving up the presidential primary
Recently, the House approved a bill that would move the presidential primary from May to the second Tuesday in March. There's good and bad in this bill. Here's what's good: the change gives our state more influence in the national process. Here's what's bad: when participating in the presidential primary, voters will be required to declare a party affiliation.
Although individual votes remain private, party choices are public record. This information can—and will—be used later by state parties for fundraising and other political activities. As I stated on the House floor, forcing voters to check a box benefits parties not people. I tried to offer an amendment that would have protected voter privacy. Unfortunately, it was voted down by House Democrats. Senate Bill 5273 passed 52-42, with all House Republicans voting no. It now heads to the governor for signature.
Bad bills for health care
House Bill 1523 would be a big step towards single-payer or “universal” government-funded health care system. The governor and other Democrats want companies in the state exchange to offer a “standardized” public option, specifically limiting choices over time to their one-size-fits-all plans. The long-range goal of this policy would force patients in the individual market into one government-approved, taxpayer-funded health insurance plan. Socialized medicine is not quality care. This is a bad bill. It passed the House 57-41, with all Republicans voting no.
House Bill 1870 would codify the Affordable Care Act into state statute. This health care system has struggled in our state since its beginning. The bill passed the House 56-38, with all Republicans voting no.
House Bill 1087, also known as the Long-Term Care Trust Act, would establish a public long-term care benefit Washington workers would have to pay into. Starting in 2022, Washingtonians working 10 percent of full-time, would pay 0.58 percent of their wages into the trust program. I strongly believe this defined benefit plan is not fiscally sustainable overtime. The bill was approved by the House, 63-33. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
Defeating the Democratic-sponsored agricultural bill that would have required farmers to report incidents of “slavery, peonage and human trafficking”
Senate Bill 5693 was proposed by a Democratic legislator from Seattle. The bill would have required farmers to report incidents of “slavery, peonage and human trafficking” to retailers with more than $200,000 in global sales. Farmers across the state were offended by this bill. Although it made it to the Senate Rules Committee, Republicans managed to stop it from reaching the Senate floor for a vote. This unfortunate proposal is further evidence of the growing political polarization between urban and rural regions of our state. I'm glad the bill was defeated. Hard-working farmers need to be supported, not insulted.
Make your voice heard in Olympia!
If you read about a bill in this update you feel strongly about, please call the legislative hotline at (800) 562-6000. Better yet, send me an email or even consider coming to Olympia to voice your concerns. Working together, we can be the change needed in our state.
It is an honor to serve you at state Capitol. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about state-government related matters, feel free to give me a call. I'm always happy to hear from you!
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.