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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you well! On Monday, January 10, lawmakers returned to Olympia to officially begin the 2022 legislative session. In even-numbered years, we have 60-days to complete the people's work, including approving the supplemental operating, transportation, and capital budgets. In the early weeks of session, our focus will be on moving priority policy bills through the committee process.

It was my hope that we would conduct business in-person this session. For the time being, we are back to a virtual process as we remain under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's important for you to know what our operational plan looks like. I understand virtual meetings, committee hearings, and testimony are challenging, but it's imperative for you to stay active in the legislative process.

There are many hot topics facing the Legislature this session. In this e-newsletter, I will highlight two topic areas that are at the top of my priority list: public safety and transportation. Before I get started, I'd like to know what you believe the Legislature's priorities should be this session. You can record your thoughts in this brief survey. Thank you!

My top priorities in 2022 | Public Safety and Transportation

The Republican Safe Washington Plan: Prioritizing public safety, supporting law enforcement, and preventing crime

Washington communities continue to face the challenges of chronic homelessness, increases in addiction and overdose, crime, and untreated mental health needs. Unfortunately, the majority party's ineffective and destructive policies have made these problems worse and left our law enforcement professionals without needed support. For our communities  to thrive, we must develop solutions that effectively address the root causes of these problems.

On, Wednesday, January 5, I was honored to be part of a public safety panel, alongside some of my House and Senate Republican colleagues, to unveil the Republican Safe Washington Plan. Our common-sense solutions prioritize public safety, support law enforcement, and prevent crime.

Two important bills I'd like to bring to your attention are House Bill 1788, which I am the prime sponsor, and House Bill 1787, which is prime sponsored by my seatmate Rep. Drew Stokesbary, with me as the first co-sponsor.

  • As a retired trooper with the Washington State Patrol, I've personally been involved in vehicle pursuits. I've made the decision to safely conduct a pursuit against someone violating the law, and I've also made the decision to end a pursuit out of safety concerns for myself, the traveling public, and our communities. This discretion is something law enforcement professionals depend on in split-second decisions. I have introduced House Bill 1788 to correct current statute, and the massive changes last year's police reform legislation made, to allow troopers, deputies and officers to engage in a vehicular pursuit if there is reasonable suspicion the person in the vehicle has or is committing a crime. I am grateful that my bill will receive a public hearing in the House Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, January 18th.
  • 2020 was the 11th consecutive year Washington state ranked 51st out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the number of police officers per thousand people. House Bill 1787 seeks to change this statistic by providing funding for the recruitment, retention, and support of law enforcement officers.

Other areas our legislation will address include:

  • Fixing flawed anti-police measures adopted by the majority last session and providing additional support for law enforcement.
  • Putting victims and the safety of Washington's communities first by dealing with human trafficking, missing indigenous persons, strengthening the felony DUI law, and combating domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Reforming the Department of Corrections and reversing efforts to prematurely release criminals back on the streets. (See Prison Alarm Bells report)
  • Addressing the increases in property crimes, including retail and catalytic converter theft.
  • Fixing the majority's inadequate response to the Washington State Supreme Court's ruling in State v. Blake.

For more on the Safe Washington Plan, listen to our podcast by clicking on the photo below.

You can also listen to my interview with Jason Rantz here.

Transportation solutions: Reprioritizing Existing Appropriations for Longevity (REAL) Act

Our state continues to face multiple transportation-related issues. Funding continues to be a struggle. The primary funding for transportation infrastructure efforts in Washington comes from the state portion of the fuel tax and fees for registering motor vehicles. Democrats' have expressed interest in another transportation package that could rise the price of gas anywhere from 9.8 to 19 cents per gallon to pay for a new transportation projects around the state. If that happens, the majority's decisions could cost you nearly $11 more every time you fill up your tank with gas.

Washington state drivers regularly pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation, thanks in part to our state's 49.4 cent gas tax. But if you think gas prices are expensive now, wait until two new regressive policies enacted by Democrats during the 2021 legislative session fully go into effect. Some estimates predict House Bill 1091 (low-carbon fuel standard) and Senate Bill 5126 (cap and tax) could add nearly 50 cents to the price of a gallon of gas by 2030, in addition to increasing the cost of food, goods, and heating for families across the state.

As one of the assistant ranking members on the House Transportation Committee, I support an innovative and new approach to transportation budgeting that no longer relies on the antiquated system of relying on the state gas tax. There is a better way to do this without  raising taxes.

The REAL Act is:

  • House Bill 1603: REAL Act which would shift specific transportation programs to be paid for by the general fund beginning in 2025.
  • House Bill 1604: Directs state sales tax paid on moto vehicles to be used for preservation and maintenance of the existing transportation system.
  • House Bill 1605: Creates a program at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to implement rural safety lane departure improvements.
  • House Bill 1606: Recognizes fish passage barrier projects as inherently correcting environmental justice concerns without further review or process.
  • House Bill 1607: Investigates a shift of the Safe Routes to School Program to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) with the direction to better coordinate funding for safe pathways to new schools.
  • House Bill 1608: Directs the executive branch to address barriers to recruitment for Washington State Ferries in future collective bargaining agreements.
  • House Bill 1249: Transfers sales tax paid on transportation projects to the transportation budget.
  • House Bill 1528 (which I've sponsored): Puts a pause on the commute trip reduction program in light of COVID-19.

For more information, click here.

Save the date | 31st District Virtual Town Hall

On Saturday, January 22 at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Drew Stokesbary and I will host a virtual town hall meeting. Details will be provided in my next e-newsletter. Please mark your calendars!

Stay connected

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding your state government, or any of the topics in this e-newsletter, please don't hesitate to get in touch with my office.

It's an honor to serve you.

In your service,


Eric Robertson

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