Cutoff highlights refusal to address emergency powers — one of many majority Democrat failures, say top Senate Republicans

Senate Republican leaders released the following remarks after Sunday’s legislative deadline for bills that passed in their house origin to be considered by the opposite chamber.

Bills that did not pass in both chambers by Sunday’s cutoff are considered ‘dead’ except for those considered necessary to implement the budget, such as the income tax proposed by Democrats. Bills passed in both chambers without further modification head to the governor’s desk to be considered for signing. Those that now contain additional amendments head back to their house of origin where legislators can either accept or refuse the changes before sending the bills to Gov. Jay Inslee.

 

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia:

“We figured the Democrat majority would stand with the governor, instead of listening to the people, on his income tax, his cap-and-tax scheme and his high-cost fuel standards bill. We didn’t expect the majority would refuse to join us in making simple, bipartisan improvements to the emergency-powers law, now that we’ve all seen how it has been applied to our constituents. It’s stunning to realize that in less than two weeks the people will be right back where they were for most of 2020, with one person able to control the most fundamental aspects of daily life — and with the people’s direct representatives having limited ability to intervene. I don’t understand why the Democrats seem afraid to insist that the legislative branch must have authority to review not just some, but every single one of the emergency proclamations that affect their constituents. Add in the new policies that would hinder law enforcement, and families have even less reason to feel secure.

“Some of what we’re seeing has been on the Democrats’ wish list for years, but these policies simply don’t work for all of Washington. It’s no coincidence that this is happening while Democrat leaders have put themselves in a virtual bubble, with a fence conveniently separating them from the faces and the voices of the people.”

 

Senate Republican Caucus Chair Ann Rivers, R-La Center:

“Actions speak louder than words. I hear my colleagues in the Democratic majority talk about being ‘progressive’ and ‘putting people first’ and applying an ‘equity lens’ – then they pass bills that are regressive, and put government first, at the expense of the poor and the historically marginalized communities they claim they want to help. That was really brought home when they passed the cap-and-tax bill and the high-cost fuel standards bill. We’re talking an increase of at least 55 cents per gallon in the cost of fuel, without any real improvements in air quality or roads. Who does that help? It’s going to drive up the cost of everything that involves a truck or a van.”

“So much of what we’ve seen this session, from the lack of access to democracy to these unnecessary new taxes and regulations, is due to nothing more than pure political opportunism. They’ve finally got 25 members who will vote for some of their pet policies, and this is the result.”

 

Senate Republican Deputy Leader Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick:

“There were so many quality bills that didn’t make the cutoff deadline, which makes it even more stunning that the Majority used this session to focus on increasing taxes on Washingtonians.

“With so much money coming into the state through increased tax revenues and billions in federal relief dollars, there was clearly no reason for tax increases this year. I am disappointed that Democrats have used their majorities in the House and Senate to push the creation of a new and most-likely unconstitutional income tax on capital gains, a cap-and-tax scheme that will increase the cost of gas and groceries for working families, and other policies that put our state economy and family household budgets at risk.

“The majority’s insatiable desire for more of the people’s money is nothing short of government greed.”

 

How is the majority failing the people?

  • Passed a ‘High Cost Fuel Standard’ and a ‘Cap & Tax’ (see accompanying chart). These are toxically regressive bills which will harm those who can least afford to see their gas costs increase by 55 cents/gallon by 2028. Another 9.8-cent increase is expected to be passed in the form of a gas tax. This total increase of 64.8 cents/gallon nearly doubles our current gas tax, which would give Washington the dubious distinction of having the highest gas tax in the country.
  • Providing lip service to a goal of equity while passing bills that will harm rural communities, including those who grow our food, inevitably resulting in the collapse of many farms that are barely surviving now. Farm donations to food banks will go down and farmworker unemployment will go up. The price of food will go up, harming lower-income individuals already suffering from food insecurity including children and the urban poor.
  • Continued inaction by legislative Democrat leadership to exert appropriate legislative oversight over the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Hospitals are not in danger of being overwhelmed, and vaccine distribution is progressing statewide. But Democrat legislative leadership continues to allow the executive branch to operate under emergency powers with no end in sight. This is in contravention to other states with one party control both Democrat (Connecticut) and Republican (Idaho) where the legislatures have announced that emergency powers must be reformed to reestablish separate and coequal powers of the legislative branch.  Pass Senate Bill 5039.
  • Insufficient legislative action on returning the most vulnerable Washington kids back to in-person school. It is SCANDALOUS that union leaders for adults are allowing our children to be harmed – potentially for their entire lives – by not following the science used by the Centers of Disease Control to call for the safe return to the classroom. This is the equity issue of our time. Pass Senate Bill 5464.
  • Inaction by the majority to a decision handed down by a Supreme Court which continues to act as a super legislature and has effectively legalized the possession of hard drugs in the Washington. It is hoped that Democrat leaders will agree that drug legalization would be disastrous. Pass SB 5471.
  • The indefinite lockout of the public from directly observing THEIR elected representatives making laws that affect their lives. Sunday was Day 93 — this is beginning the FOURTH MONTH of this lockdown. To put a fine point on it, the Democrats have allowed an ugly cyclone fence and concrete barriers to stay up and have made it clear that while the public might find a way into the campus during the day, they really are not welcome by the Democrat legislative leaders.
  • Continued erosion of public safety and the vilification of law enforcement. This includes wanting to legalize hard drugs that drive the mental health and homelessness epidemics in Washington, letting some career criminals who are in jail under the ‘3-strikes’ law out on the street, and taking tools away from peace officers who must handle violent and resistant suspects.

 

Worst Bills Moving Forward (As of cutoff – opposite house)

  • 8402: Abdicating legislative power to review emergency gubernatorial proclamations (Liias)
  • 5096: Implementing an income tax on capital gains – a ‘starter’ income tax (Robinson) NTIB
  • 5126: Cap & Tax, allowing wealthy polluters to pay to continue to pollute (Carlyle) NTIB (transportation)
  • 1091: Implementing a ‘High Cost Fuel Standard’ (HCFS) that will cripple agriculture in Washington and harm those who must drive more than others (Fitzgibbon)
  • 5141: Implementing the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Taskforce (Saldana)
  • 5399: Creating the Universal Health Care Commission (Randall)
  • 5121: Expanding eligibility for the graduated reentry program (Darneille)
  • 5051: Improper expansion of state authority over police departments.
  • 5036: Conditional commutation by the clemency and pardons board (Dhingra)

 

2021 Opposite House Cutoff Totals

Senate Bills in House

Senate passed 208 bills to the House

  • 155 D (74.5%)
  • 53 R (25.6%)

House passed 150 Senate bills

  • 116 D (77.3%)
  • 34 R (22.7%)

 

 House Bills in Senate

House passed 221 bills to the Senate

  • 178 D (80.5%)
  • 43 R (19.4%)

Senate passed 166 House bills

  • 131 D (78.9%)
  • 35 R (21.1%)

 

Senate Republican bills that have passed the House (opposite house cutoff):

 

Bill Title Status Original Sponsor
2SSB 5000 Hydrogen/electric vehicles H Passed 3rd Hawkins
SSB 5009 Public expression protection H Passed 3rd Padden
SB 5016 All-terrain vehicles H Spkr Signed Warnick
SB 5018 Acupuncture and Eastern med. H Spkr Signed Rivers
ESSB 5024 Condominium construction H Passed 3rd Padden
SB 5027 Television closed captions H Passed 3rd Padden
SB 5031 Aviation revital. loan prg H Passed 3rd Honeyford
SB 5040 State highway litter control H Passed 3rd Fortunato
SB 5063 Invasive species council exp H Passed 3rd Honeyford
SB 5077 Mortgage loan originators C 15 L 21 Dozier
SB 5131 County clerks/recall H Spkr Signed Holy
SSB 5157 Behavioral disorders/justice H Passed 3rd Wagoner
ESB 5158 Utility wildland fire cmte. H Passed 3rd Hawkins
SB 5159 WDFW payments/property tax H Passed 3rd Warnick
ESSB 5172 Agricultural overtime H Passed 3rd King
ESSB 5190 Health care workers/benefits H Passed 3rd Holy
SB 5198 Ambulances in rural areas C 17 L 21 Schoesler
SSB 5230 Groundwater agreements H Passed 3rd Dozier
SSB 5236 Certificate of need exempt. H Passed 3rd Warnick
ESSB 5251 Tax and revenue laws S Pres Signed Schoesler
SSB 5271 Health care injury/COVID-19 S Pres Signed Wagoner
SB 5296 WSP retirement/index def. H Spkr Signed Schoesler
SSB 5325 Telemedicine H Spkr Signed Muzzall
2SSB 5331 Early childhood court prg H Passed 3rd Gildon
SB 5338 Fire districts/education C 19 L 21 Wilson, L.
SB 5345 Industrial waste program H Passed 3rd Brown
SB 5347 Cooperatives/member voting H Spkr Signed Padden
ESB 5356 Public works/bidding H Spkr Signed Short
SSB 5361 Drug offenses/resentencing H Passed 3rd McCune
2SSB 5362 Agricultural fair funding H Passed 3rd McCune
2SSB 5368 Rural economic development H Passed 3rd Short
SSB 5384 Volunteer firefighters H Spkr Signed Warnick
SSB 5423 Telemedicine consultations H Passed 3rd Rivers
ESB 5454 Prop. tax/natural disasters H Passed 3rd Schoesler