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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

State representatives have been on the virtual House floor, voting on bills, for the last 12 or so days. We passed 216 bills off the virtual House floor. These bills will now move to the Senate for further consideration. While many bills that passed had bipartisan support, others did not. There were many policies that advanced with long debates, some five to seven hours long, and strong House Republican opposition. For more information on these policies, please continue reading this update.

Senate Bill 5096 | Income tax on capital gains

  • This bill would create a new income tax on capital gains. This is the first big move toward a state income tax.
  • This is unnecessary. The Legislature can fund state priorities without raising taxes on anyone.
  • This is unpopular. Washingtonians have said repeatedly over the years they do not want any type of state income tax.
  • This is unconstitutional. This new tax would likely be challenged and struck down by the courts.
  • This bill narrowly passed the Senate with bipartisan opposition on a 25-24 vote. It has now been referred to the House Finance Committee.

House Bill 1054 | Police tactics and equipment 

  • This bill would take away tools police officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the need to use deadly force. This would make the job of police officers even more dangerous.   
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 54-43 vote. It has now been referred to Senate Law and Justice Committee.  
  • You can watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here.

House Bill 1310 | Police use of force standard

  • This bill would establish a use of force standard for law enforcement officers, failing to recognize a number of circumstances where force may be required to ensure public safety. It also undercuts the reasonable officer standard approved and established by voters through I-940.
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 55-42 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

House Bill 1236 | Protecting residential tenants

  • This bill would essentially take away the rights of property owners to determine who they can rent to or when and why they can evict a tenant. This bill allows the government to dictate what property owners can and cannot do with their property.
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 54-44 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee.
  • You can watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here.

House Bill 1091 | Low-carbon fuel standard mandate 

  • This bill would increase the cost of gas and diesel without generating any new revenue for transportation projects, it would be bad for businesses and our economy, and would offer little to no benefit to our overall air quality. 
  • This bill passed the House with bipartisan opposition on a 52-46 vote. It has now been referred to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
  • You can watch highlights from our floor debate by clicking here

House Bill 1078 | Felon voting rights 

  • This bill would automatically restore felon voting rights before completed sentences, including for those who committed heinous violent and sexual offenses, which would be unfair to many crime victims and their families.  
  • This bill passed the House on a party-line vote of 57-41. It has now been referred to Senate State Government and Elections Committee.
  • You can watch highlights of our floor debate by clicking here.

House Bill 1553 | Republicans introduce Open Safe, Open Now plan

The governor announced his “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan back on January 5. Since then, all counties in the state have slowly advanced to Phase 2 of his plan. However, it seems we are still in limbo as we wait to hear how the state can move forward to Phase 3 and beyond. As of today, he has yet to identify Phase 3. This continues to be frustrating for everyone. Recently, House and Senate Republicans offered yet another real solution to move the state forward. The Open Safe, Open Now plan respects local control and trusts you with your health and safety.

It is beyond time:

  • For the Legislature to lead and make policy decisions.  
  • To get students back to school, sports, and activities. 
  • To get people back to work.
  • To help those in crisis, including students, families, and businesses.
  • To end the isolation of our children and seniors.
  • To understand the larger context of public health – including mental health.
  • To trust Washingtonians with their health and safety.

Under this plan, the state would immediately move to Phase 3 which would allow all students in grades K-12 return to the classroom and school districts would be expected to implement safety protocols provided by the CDC. It would also allow hospitality businesses, indoor weddings, indoor religious services, and professional services to move to 50% capacity. This would help people get back to work. After a county has operated under Phase 3 for three weeks, and if there was no significant spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, it could move to Phase 4 and reopening 100%.

The governor thinks our plan is nothing more than a messaging point. I'm here to tell you that's not the case. House Bill 1553 would put this plan into action, and the governor and majority party should consider it to safely move our state into the next phase and beyond.

Plus, my seatmate, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, spearheaded the effort to offer two real solutions to back up this plan.

The first is the relief package we introduced at the beginning of session. The Real Recovery for Washington Act is a comprehensive $4 billion economic recovery package. It would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and expand COVID testing and vaccine administration.

The second is the House Republican 2021-23 operating budget proposal framework which prioritizes all Washingtonians without raising taxes on anyone or anything. This proposal represents savings, efficiencies, and rational decision-making. It includes reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, fixing inefficient structures, eliminating programs that aren't working, and replacing bad policies with better ones.

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. I also encourage you to stay engaged and involved in the legislative process. Together, we will navigate through these challenging times.

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