Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Greetings from Olympia!
We are now more than halfway through the 2019 legislative session. For nine days, we spent long hours and late nights on the House floor voting on bills. We just passed another session deadline known as house of origin cutoff. We voted on 353 bills; 89 of which were sponsored by a Republican. The thousands of bills not approved by the chamber in which they originated are now “dead.” The only exceptions are bills necessary to implement the budget.
I had two good bills that were causalities of this cutoff:
- House Bill 1649 would amend current statute to allow Washington state residents who hold concealed pistol licenses to sell or trade firearms amongst each other without an additional background check.
- House Bill 2106 would cap state property taxes for current and future homeowners. Under the bill, the residential real property value subject to property taxation for state purposes would be the lesser of that property's assessed value in the assessment year, or of that property's assessed value in 2019.
Although Republicans are in the minority, we continue to fight hard to defeat bad policies. This update includes a few examples of bad bills that made it through. There are still many battles to fight. We now move back into our respected committees to hear the Senate bills that have made their way over to the House.
My legislative video update
To hear my thoughts on a few of the bad bills that passed before the house of origin cutoff, please watch my recent legislative video update. You can do so by clicking on the photo below.
More bad bills that passed before cutoff
Low carbon fuel standard
House Bill 1110 would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt, by rule, standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy in transportation fuels over time. This would follow California's model, which has raised gas and diesel prices there and will continue to in the future. We think this new program would be regressive, would raise the cost of gas and goods, and not do anything meaningful for the environment. Watch highlights of the floor debate.
Public option health care
House Bill 1523 would require the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to develop standardized health plans. It would expressly limit choice over time in favor of one-size-fits-all plans meeting specific government requirements. We believe this approach would increase health care costs, reduce options and eliminate providers. Watch highlights of the floor debate.
House Bill 1575 is another response to the U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision. The measure would make it more difficult for public employees to exercise their right to not join a union and to get out of a union. For example: it would allow employees to opt-in to a union via recorded voice, electronic or written authorization, but they could only opt-out via written authorization. We feel this approach is fundamentally unfair to public employees and goes against the spirit of the Janus decision. Watch highlights of the floor debate.
For more information, please follow the House Republican caucus website, Facebook and Twitter pages. For audio updates, please visit our SoundCloud page. These pages are great resources when you want up-to-date information.
House Page Program
I recently had the privilege of hosting three students as pages through the House Page Program.
Each year, students from around the state apply to participate in the legislative page program. Students spent a week attending page school, learning the inner workings of state government and assisting legislators on the House floor. Pages earn $35 a day while serving in the program. To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor, be between the ages of 14 and 16, and obtain written permission from their parents and school. For more information about the House page program, click here.
Town Halls | Thank you!
If you were unable to attend but would still like to submit your questions, concerns or comments, please contact my office.
It's an honor to serve you.
Robert J. Sutherland