Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session is underway and I am working hard for you in Olympia.
There are many challenges before us as we work to preserve and improve our state’s quality of life. It is not easy being in the minority, but my colleagues and I are working to make Washington safe, affordable and accountable. I am also continuing my efforts to ensure our election system is secure and fair.
Election reform legislation
- House Bill 1796 would require verification of citizenship for voter registration.
- House Bill 1797 relates to the timely processing of updated voter registration information.
- House Bill 1828 would require quick response codes on ballots.
- House Bill 1998 would permit only the return and count of ballots that contain an official watermark.
My goal is to improve the voting and election process in our state. I am not trying to “prove” election fraud in our state races. However, I want make sure our elections and process surrounding voter registration function correctly and voters have confidence in the system. This is something we should all agree with – Republicans and Democrats. This should not be a partisan issue. Any wrongdoing with the election process must be corrected.
Please feel free to reach out with any concerns or specific instances you are aware of that would be helpful to me as I work to strengthen our election laws through the legislative process.
Discounted hunting license for seniors
I am working on getting a public hearing on House Bill 1185. My bill would provide a discount for senior citizens obtaining a hunting license. Washington already provides a discount to seniors for a fishing license. Other states across the country have enacted similar legislation.
Seniors would pay about a fifth of the regular license fee – depending on the type of hunting license. The bill has bipartisan support.
Property tax relief
I continue to advocate for property tax relief. My House Bill 1371 would use a phased approach to eliminate the state property taxes over a four-to-five year time period. State revenue, dollars from you, the taxpayer, remain strong. Our budget surplus, is almost $9 billion, there is $2.2 billion in reserves and we have $1.2 billion in unspent federal stimulus money. The state has the money to make this happen.
The pandemic has been tough on many financially. We have an opportunity to help those on fixed incomes, stimulate the economy and put money back in the pockets of taxpayers.
There are a number of high priority issues we need to address this session, including fixing some policy issues recently passed by the Democratic majority party.
- Reforming the police “reforms:” Following the Defund the Police movement, the majority party passed police reforms, but they have made our communities less safe. The new laws have placed unrealistic standards on law enforcement officials for arrests and pursuits, and taken away too many tools related to de-escalation tactics and equipment. House Republicans have introduced a package of bills to address concerns and prioritize public safety in our communities.
- Repeal of the Long-Term Care Act: This is flawed public policy. There are a number of bills to modify or delay this law, including House Bill 1594, which would fully repeal the program and payroll tax. House Bill 1913 would repeal the long-term care mandate and replace it with an affordable and optional alternative. For more information on the Long-Term Care Act click here.
- Emergency powers reform: Washington state has been under one-person rule through the pandemic, which is approaching almost two years. While we are still dealing with the coronavirus, businesses are open, kids are back in school, sporting events are happening, and yet we are still in a “state of emergency.” Our state government was never intended for this governor, or any other governor, to wield that kind of power. We must address emergency powers reform. Click here for more on our efforts.
Follow the Legislature
I have received thousands of emails, messages and phone calls from you on a variety of issues during the interim. I urge you to stay engaged. We will be debating and voting on important issues affecting our communities and state. Please continue to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments you have. I appreciate your input and feedback.
Here are some websites and links that will help you stay engaged this legislative session.
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips
- How you can be involved in the legislative process
- How to comment on a bill
- Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony
It is an honor to represent the 39th District!
Robert J. Sutherland
WA State Representative, District 39