Home | About Joel | News & Media | Email Updates | The Ledger | Contact
We have only about one month left in the legislative session. The house of origin cutoff was on March 8. That means all the bills needed to pass out of their original chamber, or they are considered “dead” for the session. There are exceptions to the rule, such as legislation necessary to implement the budget. And no bill is ever officially dead until we adjourn. There are extraordinary steps that can be taken to resurrect a bill. However, this deadline does significantly cut down the number of bills left for us to consider.
In this email I will give you an update on some of my bills still moving through the legislative process, the latest on the law enforcement vehicle pursuit issue, and gun bills still alive and how you can still testify on them. If you have any questions on any of this legislation please let me know.
Small school financing
My House Bill 1044 continues to move through the legislative process. The strong, bipartisan legislation passed the state House of Representatives by a vote of 98-0 on the last day to get bills out of the House.
The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. If you want to testify or make your position known in the legislative record click here.
This is the piece of legislation that would provide funding for small school districts through a grant process based on need. It would be a great benefit to small schools in our district and across the state. The current model allows some communities easier access for construction of quality school buildings than other communities that have consistently failed to pass construction bonds. School districts would receive a score based on certain criteria. The grant dollars would go to the school district whose score reflects the most need.
Funding must be used to address critical physical deficiencies or essential safety concerns such as modernizing, repairing, reconfiguring, or replacing existing buildings and construction of new buildings. All students deserve a quality school to learn no matter their place of residence.
Two other prime-sponsored bills reach the Senate
My legislation to streamline rules and regulations in common interest communities, House Bill 1043, passed the House unanimously last month. It has had a public hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee and is scheduled for executive session today (Wednesday).
House Bill 1782 that would address the operation and maintenance of the Wahkiakum County ferry, also passed the House unanimously a few weeks ago. It has been voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee. It now awaits a vote by the full Senate. This is an important piece of legislation for many communities in southwest Washington. Many workers who travel in Washington and Oregon use the ferry daily for work.
Vehicle pursuit legislation update
One of the most important issues we had hoped to address this legislative session is providing law enforcement the ability to pursue criminals. We need to allow police to do their job of protecting our communities and families.
When it became clear the majority party was not going to bring the bipartisan House Bill 1363 to the floor for a vote before our house of origin cutoff on March 8, I joined with my House Republican colleagues in attempting a parliamentary maneuver that would have pulled the bill to the House floor for debate and a vote. Our efforts were voted down on a party-line vote. This was frustrating since 20 legislators in the majority party signed on as co-sponsors of the HB 1363 legislation, yet voted against bringing the bill to the floor.
With the House version not moving, the Senate did pass their version of the pursuit bill. It is watered down and much weaker than the original bill House Republicans would like to see. However, it does keep the issue alive and potentially provide us another opportunity to amend it. Unfortunately, the end of the session is rapidly approaching and it does not sound promising.
I can assure you, my House Republican colleagues and I will do whatever we can in the final few weeks to get this bill in front of us for debate and a vote.
Who are we protecting, criminals or the victims?
There has been good bipartisanship work this session on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, public safety has not been one of them. Not only are we struggling to pass a commonsense solution to address the disastrous vehicle pursuit law passed in 2021, there are other concerning pieces of legislation this session that prioritizes criminals over victims including:
- House Bill 1268, which would reduce penalties for gang, drug, and firearm crimes committed in protected zones, like schools and bus stops;
- House Bill 1324, which would reduce sentences for juvenile criminal re-offenders; and
- House Bill 1169, which would shift the cost of crime from criminals to law-abiding citizens.
We need to hold criminals accountable for their actions, not go easier on crime.
Gun bills threaten Second Amendment rights, still time to testify
The majority party is also pushing gun bills that may not be constitutional and would punish law-abiding citizens. Two bills in particular:
- House Bill 1240 which would ban the sale, production or transfer of most semi-auto firearms aka “assault weapons.” It contains an emergency clause that goes into effect immediately after the governor signs it. This legislation goes against a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and the upcoming federal district court ruling on the California “assault weapons ban,” which most believe will be overturned. If this ban goes into effect, it would have a greater impact on law-abiding citizens than the individuals who commit crimes.
- House Bill 1143 which would impair your right to buy, sell or keep arms. The measure would impose various training and testing requirements on law-abiding gun owners and retailers before they can exercise their constitutional rights.
We were unable to stop the bills in the House. However, it is not too late to share your thoughts, opinions or testimony on these bills. They are scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow (Thursday) at 8 a.m. in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
To testify, submit written testimony, or have your position noted for the legislative record on House Bill 1240 click here.
To testify, submit written testimony, or have your position noted for the legislative record on House Bill 1143 click here.
Washington state has the fewest law enforcement officers per capita. These types of laws will continue to make it more difficult to recruit and train more law enforcement officers to protect our communities. Our families, neighborhoods, and communities must be the public safety priority, not the criminals.
A reminder, below are some websites and links that will help you stay involved and follow the Legislature and our state government.
- My legislative website | Here you can find contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, floor speeches and radio interviews.
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips | Daily news clips from around the state.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the legislative session or our state government.
It is an honor to serve the great 19th District!
Your Humble Servant,
409 John L. O’Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7870 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000