Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session begins in January and because it is a short session, it will be a fast-paced, intense 60 days.
To prepare, I have spent the past several months traveling around the district meeting with constituents listening and learning about the issues that are important to you and our communities.
Last week I traveled to Olympia for Committee Assembly days. These two days help legislators prepare for the upcoming session. Committee hearings are held to discuss public policy issues that will likely come before us during the legislative session. It is also an opportunity to meet with fellow legislators, staff and stakeholders as we work on legislation and priority issues.
Advisory votes – the people have spoken
If you filled out a ballot in November you voted on a number of advisory measures. As a reminder, when the Legislature passes a tax increase, an advisory vote is placed on the next general election ballot. While the intention is to keep lawmakers accountable to taxpayers when it comes to taxes, the results do not actually change the law.
The taxpayers of Washington spoke loud and clear this November. Voters chose to repeal most of the tax increases on the ballot. I view the advisory votes as important feedback to the Democratic legislators who, because they hold a majority in Olympia, passed these tax increases. While they were only advisory ballot measures, you have told them you are tired of the ever-increasing taxes while major problems in Washington state only seem to worsen.
Last session we saw a massive increase in spending, and new tax increases by the majority party. While Republicans like myself fought and debated against them, we were outvoted. However, the voters have shown we were on the right side and we will take that message into the 2020 legislative session.
The taxpayers also made their voice heard on I-976, the $30 car-tab initiative. Unfortunately, this issue is not settled, despite voters passing it THREE times over the past several years. Some local entities are challenging the validity of I-976 and their lawsuits have been filed. I will work to make sure your voice and vote are honored. Regardless of what the courts decide, I expect this to be a very high-profile issue this session. This fight is far from over.
For more information on I-976, click on the Department of Licensing's Fact Sheet. There is also a graph below on where the potential impacts from the initiative's passage will be in the upcoming biennium.
Priorities and focus of the legislative session
My focus going into the legislative session is to help restore people's trust in Olympia, eliminate title only (ghost) bills, defend constitutional rights, return to fiscal responsibility and help make your life more affordable here in Washington.
We have seen the Democrats raise your taxes, increase spending at an unsustainable rate, and irresponsibly expand the size and scope of government. Washington state has become less affordable for you because of their policies. Please know I will be there fighting for you and your family against these policies.
House Page Program
The Page Program in the Washington State House of Representatives has been in existence since 1891. Every year the hallways in the legislative buildings are full of students taking the opportunity to learn about and participate in the legislative process of our state government.
Pages must be between the ages of 14-16. They must get permission from their parents and school. Pages are also paid $35 a day. You can access the page application here. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Olympia office at (360) 786-7967 or Robert.Sutherland@leg.wa.gov.
Stay in touch
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments about legislation or state issues. If you plan on being in Olympia during the legislative session, please call and schedule and appointment. It is always good to see folks from the 39th District during the session.
It's an honor to serve you.
Robert J. Sutherland