Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The unintended consequences of police reform bills passed during the 2021 legislative session are causing law enforcement officials to sound the alarm across the state. Two measures, sponsored by the majority party, in particular, intended to curtail police use of force, have inhibited the critical mission of law enforcement to keep our communities safe:
- House Bill 1310: Concerning the permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers; and
- House Bill 1054: Establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers.
Each bill went into effect on July 25, 2021.
During the 2021 session, I was a “no” vote on these law enforcement reform measures. Both bills create gray areas — systemic flaws — that put the public and first responders in danger. House Bill 1310, can be especially problematic in cases involving drug or mental health crisis issues when individual behavior is often unpredictable, hostile, and sometimes violent. Implementing this bill has already caused several incidents across the state — putting the public and first responders at risk.
House Bill 1054 sets strict limits on the use of military equipment by law enforcement. From now on, equipment received through the Department of Defense, like certain high-caliber firearms, sound cannons, and tanks may no longer be used and departments won't be able to purchase more. This creates difficulty around equipment that agencies sometimes deploy as less-than-lethal force options, such as bean bag rounds. Under the new law, launchers and other devices may qualify as military equipment.
It's clear these policy bills need to be revisited and revised. In the upcoming 2022 session, Republicans and Democrats need to come to the table and identify the pitfalls and failures in these measures and put together commonsense solutions that produce both an accountable police force and safe communities.
To learn more click here, or read the news articles attached below:
- As police adjust to reforms, crisis responders feel deserted (The Everett Herald)
- What new WA police accountability laws do and don't do (Crosscut)
- Snohomish County Sheriff: New laws for policing could 'put the community at danger' (My Northwest)
- New police reform laws raise concerns for local police departments (KXLY TV)
- COLUMN: House Bill 1310 – Good intentions, but bad legislation (Richard Stride/The Chronicle)
The Long-term Care Act
In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill 1087, creating a new payroll tax intended to help with individual long-term care-related expenses. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, working Washingtonians will pay $0.58% for every $100 of their earnings to fund the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program. Washingtonians who pay into the program will qualify for a lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500 starting in 2025.
Here's the problem: It's my firm belief, along with many of my fellow Washingtonians, that acquiring this type of insurance coverage should be a personal choice, not one mandated by the state. House Republicans unanimously voted against this legislation. Many hard-working Washingtonians can't afford this new payroll tax. Struggling with yet another new expense — whether it be through the new payroll tax or the cost of private long-term care insurance — will be tough. Further, the state-managed plan's costs versus the benefits is abysmal for most working individuals and families.
During the recent 2021 legislative session, the majority party sponsored House Bill 1323, which moved up the timeline for employees to opt out of the tax, setting a new timeline for self-employed individuals to opt in, and allowing individuals disabled before the age of 18 to qualify. This means wage-earners have just a few months to decide whether they want a private plan or to opt out of the state-managed plan. For those who do not wish to take part in the program and its payroll tax, there is a short window of opportunity to do so. Once an eligible private plan is purchased, individuals must apply for an exemption from the program between Oct. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2022.
To help you with the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program, House Republicans created a web page that includes frequently asked questions and facts on the payroll tax and program.
New appointments and responsibilities
My list of responsibilities in Olympia recently became a bit longer. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins appointed me to one workgroup and two additional committees. As a freshman legislator, it's an honor to have been chosen for these appointments:
- The Office Of Homeless Youth and Prevention and Protection Advisory Committee leads statewide efforts to reduce and prevent homelessness for youth and young adults; and
- The Ruckelshaus Center Work Group on Homelessness and Housing, authorized under House Bill 1277, will examine trends and policies affecting housing and services for individuals and families at risk of homelessness, as well as develop viable solutions; and
- Finally, I've also been appointed to the Joint Legislative Unanticipated Revenue Oversight Committee, authorized under Senate Bill 5092. This committee will review unanticipated funding from federal and other non-state sources and review requests from the governor on proposed allotments.
To read more about these appointments, click here.
Stay in touch!
Your input is vital in helping me represent your values in Olympia. Feel free to call or email my office with your comments, concerns, or ideas about state government. My contact information is listed below.
In your service,