We have finished up Week 5 of the legislative session and we have 10 weeks to go in the 105-day regular session. It has been a couple of weeks since my last email update but there are a number of issues I want to update you on.
Most of Washington moves to Phase 2
On Thursday, the governor announced five more regions will be advancing to Phase 2 on Sunday. This leaves the South Central Region (Benton, Franklin, Columbia, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Yakima counties) as the only region left in Phase 1. Legislators, Republican and Democrat, are grateful most of the state will be in Phase 2. However, some of the counties in the South Central Region have done an excellent job of controlling their COVID numbers, but they are being left behind. It is frustrating and disappointing, and speaks to the unfairness and inequity of the governor's phased plan. It is imperative we continue to move forward and get Washington state fully reopened. Republicans have sponsored legislation, House Bill 1321 and its companion bill Senate Bill 5114, to make that happen. I can assure you we will continue to push forward for the struggling families, businesses and those that need to go back to work.
State Auditor announces massive data breach
On Feb. 1, Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy announced at least 1.4 million Washingtonians may have had personal information stolen in a hack of software related to unemployment claims data.
If you contacted the Employment Security Department (ESD) regarding an unemployment claim or other issues, and you are concerned you may be one of the people that have had their personal information stolen, below are some links that may be helpful.
- About the Accellion data security breach | What you need to know
Please feel free to contact my office you have any questions or need further assistance.
COVID-19 relief funds
On Monday night, Feb. 1, the House debated House Bill 1368, COVID-19 relief legislation. Like the unemployment insurance bill passed earlier this session, and the governor signed this week, the relief legislation would do some positive things. Unfortunately, it does not go far enough to help those struggling -employers, employees and families. Majority party Democrats opted for a limited piece of legislation while Republicans made every effort to expand the legislation to include more money and assistance in places it is desperately needed. We offered six amendments that focused on:
- safely reopening schools;
- assisting students who have fallen behind;
- providing rental and utility assistance;
- easing financial burdens on working families;
- helping child care providers; and
- supporting small businesses.
Only one amendment was accepted by the majority party. I voted a disappointed “no” since most of our amendments were rejected and I felt like we could have done so much more for the citizens who truly need it. Below is a chart showing the difference between the Republicans REAL Recovery for Washington Act plan and the bill the majority supported. As you can see, Republicans wanted to spend about $4 billion in relief for working families, small businesses and public health compared to the $2.2 billion proposed by the majority.
I hope the partisanship can be put aside as we move forward and work on further legislation to help those in need during the pandemic.
Bills threatening 2nd Amendment rights
I briefly touched on the bills introduced this session that would penalize law-abiding gun owners. Here is an update:
House Bill 1164/Senate Bill 5078 – This is the “high capacity magazine” legislation that would limit magazines to 10 rounds. The House bill appears dead for the session, but its Senate companion bill is advancing through the legislative process. It has passed the Senate Law and Justice Committee and could be pulled to the Senate floor for a vote at any time.
House Bill 1229/Senate Bill 5217 – This is the so-called “assault weapons” ban. These bills would ban the manufacture, transfer, import, purchase, or sale of the nation's most popular rifle used in hunting, sporting and rifle clubs. Neither bill appears to be moving – which is good news.
House Bill 1283 – Is the first step in banning “open carry” in Washington. This bill would prohibit “acting with three or more persons and openly carrying or displaying a weapon in a manner in which a reasonable person would feel threatened.” What is the definition of “reasonable?” It also wouldn't take much for someone to declare they felt “threatened.” This legislation is concerning. It passed the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Follow the Legislature
Just a reminder, it is important to stay engaged in the legislative process. We are seeing a lot of bad bills this session. Click here for further information on accessing the Legislature remotely. The links below are also helpful to follow the legislative session:
- My legislative website | Here you can find contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, radio appearances, and much more.
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips | Daily news clips.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
- TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- Legislature's website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments on legislative or state issues.
It is an honor to serve you!
Your Humble Servant,