Dear Friends and Neighbors,
President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for private companies is currently on hold due to the actions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The court says the president's rule “grossly exceeds” the authority of the occupational safety agency that issued it. Even though I've been vaccinated myself, I am fundamentally opposed to mandates that cost people their livelihood and ability to support their families.
Regardless of your views on taking the COVID-19 inoculations, the court's ruling is good news for our businesses, employees, and citizens around the country who have decided that compulsory vaccination, and potentially endless booster shots, is not the right choice for their health.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Most likely, the Supreme Court will decide the matter. In the meantime, the court's ruling once again brings into the light executive branch overreach. Something we continue to deal with here in our state.
I recently joined with my 6th Legislative District seatmates, Sen. Jeff Holy and Rep. Jenny Graham, in authoring an op-ed for The Spokesman-Review, titled: “Governor continues his one-man show to the detriment of core democratic values.”
In this piece, we point out that we are over 20 months into “emergency” rule by one person, something our form of government never intended. At its core, our view is that these decisions should ultimately – after a period of time – be openly debated and voted on by the legislature. Here is a small excerpt from our opinion piece:
“Regardless of your thoughts on COVID-19, vaccine mandates and masks in schools, we as a state should be concerned with the never-ending edicts emanating from Gov. Jay Inslee's office.
“We believe that regardless of vaccine availability or effectiveness, it should not be mandated as terms for employment. Especially as other options like testing, natural immunity, and masking exist.
“Ultimately, lawmakers need to have a voice in policy making, especially if – or when – this mandate is extended to the private sector or for K-12 students.”
We have continually called for special sessions to address emergency powers reform as the governor rules this state alone with no input from duly elected lawmakers. We have sponsored legislation to reform his emergency powers. We have written letters, sent press releases, appeared on radio programs, and written opinion pieces. To no avail. The current majority party in Olympia seems intent on abdicating our authority and allowing Inslee to make unilateral decisions with no input from the legislative branch. This is wrong, and needs to change.
To learn more about our efforts to address the governor's emergency powers, click here.
New long-term care tax should be abolished
Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, a new long-term care tax will be levied on all employees in the state who haven't already opted out of the state's mandated plan.
The Democrats' new long-term care insurance program was created with no Republican support in 2019. While I believe long-term care insurance is probably a good idea for most people, it shouldn't be mandated by the state. Especially with a plan that has so many flaws and problems.
I will be joining several of my colleagues in the Legislature in calling for a repeal of the tax, and if that doesn't work, a complete overhaul of the program. You can learn more about the long-term care insurance plan here.
House Republicans propose transportation solutions
As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I am pleased with our efforts to provide real solutions to our state's transportation needs.
Last week, we introduced our Reprioritizing Existing Appropriations for Longevity (REAL) Act. As our ranking member on the committee, Rep. Andrew Barkis, said:
“Unfortunately, for decades, transportation funding has been tied to the state's gas tax and vehicle registration fees. While taxes continue to increase with each transportation package that's enacted, collected revenues are steadily declining. There are solutions through the REAL Act to address the plateau in transportation revenue while maintaining and creating a transportation system for all Washingtonians.”Rep. Andrew Barkis, ranking member, House Transportation Committee
With the price of gas continuing to skyrocket, we should absolutely NOT be thinking about raising the state gas tax, which continues to be one of the highest in the nation. We need new ideas and new funding solutions.
The REAL Act will be comprised of solutions and legislation that:
- Reprioritizes and shifts funding streams to provide better services for all modes of transportation by using growing general fund revenue instead of relying on shrinking transportation revenue. This means that many programs that are currently being paid for by the transportation budget – which continues to shrink – will now be paid for out of the general fund budget – which continues to grow (we could be looking at a budget surplus of over $8 billion next session!)
- Reprioritizes and directs sales tax paid on motor vehicles to preservation and maintenance of the existing transportation system.
- Reprioritizes and shifts funding on sales tax paid on transportation projects from the general fund to the transportation budget.
In closing, I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you find peace and comfort in your community of friends and family. We have much work to do to get our state and nation back on track. But for the next few days, please enjoy the relationships you have and be thankful for the many blessings we have.