16th District lawmakers: Our 2022 legislative priorities are to restore public safety, decrease taxes, and bring balance back to Olympia
Our 2022 legislative session opened on January 10 in Olympia, and clearly, urgent issues require our attention during our short 60 days together. Your voice will be important this session, as there will once again be no in person interactions at the Capitol. Most legislators will not be on campus and will remain behind the screens of their computers. Committee hearings and testimony will remain virtual. We will meet these challenges.
Our district has a long history of working cooperatively, listening to the voices of the community, and working toward pragmatic solutions by putting partisanship aside. This collaborative spirit will be critical over the next few months as we bring common-sense solutions to fix the flawed laws, taxes, and programs before us.
Increase public safety. Washington communities continue to face the challenges associated with chronic homelessness, the increase in addiction and overdoses, increased crime and murder rates, and many untreated mental health needs. Unfortunately, the majority party's ineffective and destructive policies have worsened these problems and left our law enforcement professionals without needed support. If communities are going to have an opportunity to thrive, we must develop solutions that effectively address the root causes of these problems. Our priorities include fixing the flawed anti-police measures adopted by the majority last session, putting victims and the safety of communities first, reforming the Department of Corrections, addressing the increases in crime, and fixing the inadequacies of the State v. Blake decision.
Repeal the Long-Term Care payroll tax. In 2019, House Bill 1087 was enacted. This bill is known as the long-term care insurance program and payroll tax or the Washington Cares Fund. It intends to provide long-term services and support benefits to people who have paid into the program for a specific amount of time. Unfortunately, this new state program offers false hope and forces some to pay into a benefit, and they will never receive a dollar. We believe this regressive tax gives working families the impression that their long-term care needs will be taken care of with this 'short-term' limited program. There are too many holes in this program that need to be fixed. We will advocate for its full repeal.
Return balance to Olympia. We are also focused on emergency power reform. The power to create laws belongs to the Legislature and the people. To grapple with time-sensitive emergencies and provide a rapid response, the Legislature has granted a portion of its lawmaking power to the governor. However, the lawmaking authority given to the governor must have limits. The people of Washington state should not be ruled by proclamations and unilateral orders for months or years. We will support bipartisan legislation to restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.
We will also be working on legislation that benefits our district.
From Sen. Perry Dozier. A bill co-sponsored by Sen. Dozier –Senate Bill 5623 — would allow insurers to resume using credit history in determining insurance premiums for an individual. Additionally, this legislation would only allow insurance carriers to use credit scores to decrease rates on home, renters, and car insurance premiums and prohibit credit history from increasing rates at renewal.
From Rep. Skyler Rude. Throughout the pandemic and even today, hospitals and long-term care facilities have restricted visitation to family members to visit dying loved ones. This is excessive and cruel. Rep. Rude has sponsored House Bill 1983 to increase patients' visitation rights in hospitals. The language is similar to that used in long-term care facilities. Under the governor's current emergency powers, the law could be waived for up to 30 days but subject to legislative oversight thereafter.
From Rep. Mark Klicker. Rep. Klicker has introduced House Bill 1871, which would help create equity between Washington counties producing clean energy and the counties consuming that energy. As the push for clean energy continues to grow in the state, numerous counties are producing large amounts of non-emitting clean energy. However, there is little equity in the siting process of this clean energy movement. The problem is most of these counties are rural and slow-growing and don't need more energy production facilities for their own use. This bill would establish a short-term moratorium on the siting of alternative energy facilities.
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It's truly an honor to represent you and be your voice in the Legislature. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.
Editor's note: Sen. Perry Dozier, R-Waitsburg, Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, and Rep. Mark Klicker, R-Walla Walla, serve the 16th Legislative District.