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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are almost halfway through the 2021 session. At this point, we are beginning to hit key deadlines.

  • Monday, Feb. 15, was our first major deadline – policy cutoff. Any policy bill that did not have a fiscal impact had to pass out of the committee in the house of origin. 
  • On Monday, Feb. 22, we hit another one of our major deadlines – fiscal cutoff. Any policy with an impact to the operating, transportation or capital budget had to pass out of one of those committees in the house of origin.

Now that these two deadlines have passed, we will spend significant time on the virtual House floor voting on bills. There are some good policies, and some bad policies, up for consideration/debate. In my next newsletter, I will give a status update on the bills that move off the House floor and sent over to the Senate for further consideration.

I would also like to bring to your attention several police reform bills that I am keeping my eye on. At this point, I am not sure which ones will move to the House floor for a vote, but I want you to be aware of certain bills that propose substantial changes to our law enforcement profession.

  • House Bill 1054. This bill would take away many imperative tools and equipment law enforcement officers use every day to keep themselves, the people they come in contact with, and the communities they serve, safe. The equipment this bill would remove includes the very tools officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force. I anticipate this bill will come to the House floor soon.
  • House Bill 1202. This bill would increase civil remedies, or lawsuits, by claimants injured as a result of alleged police misconduct.
  • House Bill 1267. This bill would transition the responsibilities of conducting criminal investigations, specific to law enforcement officers' use of force, to non-law enforcement civilians.
  • House Bill 1310. This bill would change and establish a standard for the use of physical force for law enforcement officers. This bill fails to acknowledge the realities that officers face on the streets every day and fails to incorporate a “reasonable officer” standard that accounts for these realities.

The unintended consequences of these policies will include lives lost and unsafe communities.  Our police officers are already held to a very high standard. We cannot make that standard an impossible one. We need to focus on real solutions, and mend the relationship between officers and their communities.

House Republicans have made a promise to bring real solutions to the people of Washington state.  Last week, we rolled out our 2021-23 operating budget proposal framework.

Through the outstanding leadership of my seatmate, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, our budget prioritizes all Washingtonians, without raising taxes on anyone or anything.

This budget represents true fiscal responsibility.  The framework speaks to several of my legislative priorities, through savings, efficiencies, and rational decision-making. The proposal includes reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, fixing inefficient structures, eliminating programs that aren't working, and replacing bad policies with better ones.

For more information, you can watch my recent video update. Simply click on the photo below or visit my website.

Here are some key highlights showcasing how this proposal represents real solutions and opportunities for everyone.

Creating opportunities for working families

  • Funds the Working Families Tax Credit for the first time in its 12-year history.
  • Creates a sales tax exemption for necessities, like prepared food and diapers.
  • Provides $300 stipends to low-income families to defray the costs associated with remote learning.
  • Provides grants and higher rates for childcare providers and copay assistance for families.

Helping students thrive

  • Increases federal allocations to school districts, contingent on reopening.
  • Provides equitable enrichment funding for charter and tribal schools.
  • Provides additional STEM enrollment slots at state universities and community colleges.

Helping and protecting the most vulnerable

  • Provides flexible, ongoing homelessness funding for cities and counties that clean up encampments near schools, parks, and playgrounds, and ban injection sites.
  • Provides investments in community behavioral health, triple what Gov. Jay Inslee proposed.
  • Provides rate increases for providers of DD/LTC, behavioral health, and primary care.
  • Provides funding for testing, PPE, and infection control at DD/LTC facilities.

Helping small businesses recover

  • Replenishes the unemployment insurance (UI) fund to replace fraud losses and mitigates skyrocketing UI taxes.
  • Provides temporary B&O tax relief for restaurants and other hard-hit businesses.
  • Boosts funding for the state's tourism marketing campaign.
  • Authorizes B&O, property tax and liquor fee deferrals for small businesses.

Helping all Washingtonians

  • Provides additional funds for foundational public health without taxing health insurance.
  • Funds the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest health plan, reducing wildfires and pollution.
  • Maximizes production at state and tribal hatcheries to support fish populations.

It also appropriates $1.8 billion from the rainy-day fund for one-time, COVID-related expenses.

For all the detailed information on this proposal, you can visit the Washington State Fiscal Information website, or the House Republican website.

House Republicans believe in transparency, which is why we brought this proposal to you early in the session. We wanted to show a budget framework that can be used as a guide for the budget-writing process and prove that this is all possible without raising taxes. This also gives you as our constituents the chance to review it and provide your feedback. Your voice matters!

Stay connected and in touch

One of the many challenges of this remote session is how you participate in the legislative process, including how to access the Legislature remotely.

By visiting my website, you will see a link at the top of my homepage that makes it easy for you to access all of the resources you need to stay involved. You can also click on the graphic below.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you may have. While my office in Olympia is closed, my “virtual door” is always open and I look forward to hearing from you. My Legislative Assistant, Meagan, is also happy to help in any way she can. You can find our contact information at the bottom of this email. I also encourage you to stay engaged and involved in the legislative process. Together, we will navigate through these challenging times.

It's an honor to serve you.

In your service,

Eric Robertson

State Representative Eric Robertson, 31st Legislative District
465 John L. O’Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7866 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000