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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A package of police reform bills, approved by the Legislature during the 2021 session, are arguably among some of the most aggressive in the nation. Sponsored and approved by the majority party, the bills went into effect on July 25 and cover nearly every aspect of policing.
These changes, intended to curtail police use of force, have instead produced very real, negative consequences for law enforcement and the communities they serve. Some police departments have drastically cut back service by no longer responding to 911 calls unless it is certain a crime has been committed.
To learn more about how these changes make our communities less safe, click here.
I voted “no” on these measures during the 2021 session. Here's why: They created several grey areas — systemic flaws — that put the public and first responders at risk. And the timing couldn't be worse for Washington state. In 2020, overall crime increased. Washington is now ranked 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand people. Worse still, since 2016, assaults on officers have increased by 67%.
For law enforcement around the state, two bills in particular — House Bill 1310, concerning the permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers, and House Bill 1054, establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers, seem to be especially problematic. Take a look:
- Police around Washington scrambling, and struggling, to adapt a massive reform package (The Seattle Times)
- What happens when police don't show up to 911 calls (The Olympian)
- Bonney Lake officers say new reform laws kept them from tracking armed suspect (KING TV)
- Man jumps onto cop car, allegedly hits officer who was following police reform rules (KOMO TV)
- They had probable cause after he made threats, but law prevented Bellingham police pursuit (The Bellingham Herald)
- Lower Columbia SWAT team arrests man after three-hour standoff with nonlethal weapons barred by new state law (The Daily News)
- New reforms cause 'confusion and uncertainty,' Washington police say. Advocates say the laws just need time (KUOW Radio)
- Trying to follow new state laws, WSP shut down I-82 Sunday rather than removed woman from roadway (NCW Life Channel)
- OPINION: Legislative Democrats' attempts at police reform puts communities at risk (The Seattle Times)
These laws need to be revisited, revised, or eliminated. The pitfalls and failures should be identified and real, commonsense solutions put in place — quickly — so our police force is accountable and our communities safe.
A new payroll tax | The Long-Term Care Act
The latest tax news includes, for most of us, an unwelcome new payroll deduction. Approved and sponsored by the majority party in 2019, House Bill 1087, creates a payroll tax intended to help with individual long-term care-related expenses. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, wage-earners will pay $0.58% for every $100 of their earnings to fund the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program. Washingtonians who pay into the program will qualify for a lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500 starting in 2025.
House Republicans unanimously voted against this legislation. It's my firm belief that acquiring this type of insurance coverage should be a personal choice, not one mandated by the state. Many hard-working Washingtonians simply can't afford to pay more in taxes. Struggling with yet another new expense — whether it be through the new payroll tax or the cost of private long-term care insurance — will be tough. Further, the costs versus the benefits breakdown for the state-managed plan are abysmal for most working individuals and families.
Here's are a few other reasons the program is objectionable:
- If a worker retires or moves out of state, their benefits will be forfeited.
- Workers retiring within three years have no chance to benefit, but are not exempt from the payroll tax.
- Those who live in another state, but work in Washington, will be forced to pay the tax, but will not be eligible to receive benefits from the program.
- The plan costs versus benefits margin are narrow for most working Washingtonians. Some estimates put the state-managed plan projection costs at nearly three times that of private insurance.
- It's extremely likely in years to come very real, large tax increases will be needed to keep this program afloat.
To learn more, House Republicans created a webpage that includes frequently asked questions and facts on the Long-Term Care Act payroll tax. As always, if you have questions that can't be found on that page, feel free to send me an email. I'll do my utmost to assist you.
Standing against forced vaccines and so-called “vaccine passports”
The governor has encouraged continued mask-wearing for everyone inside, even those vaccinated. He's also dangled a million-dollar jackpot before the public, and a wide variety of other prizes, to incentivize more people to get the vaccine. Now, several businesses and workplaces are requiring individuals to show their vaccination cards to enter their establishments.
I believe the COVID vaccine works and I have been vaccinated. But let me be clear, I'm absolutely against forced vaccinations and/or “vaccine passports.” It's contradictory to a free society to force others to get vaccinated. Even the pressure of not allowing individuals to enter a store or restaurant without providing proof of having received the vaccine should not be tolerated.
To learn more about my thoughts on this topic, and some of my objections to the governor's use of emergency powers in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, listen to my recent radio interview with My Northwest's Jason Rantz.
Stay in touch
As always, your input is vital in helping me represent your values in Olympia. Feel free to call or email my office with your comments, concerns, or ideas about state government. My contact information is listed below.
In your service,
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7810 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000