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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you and your family well! On Feb. 3, we reached what is known as policy cutoff. Any House bill introduced had to move forward out of committee or receive no further action this session. This cutoff does not include bills that could have a fiscal impact on one of the three state budgets. Fiscal policy cutoff is on Monday, Feb. 7.

Next week, we will begin several consecutive days, and a few potential late nights, debating and passing bills on the virtual House floor.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has engaged and participated thus far through meeting with me or by testifying in committee. Your voice and opinion are a vital part of the legislative process.

Affordable housing and homelessness

In the House Local Government Committee this week, Rep. Michelle Caldier testified on House Bill 1952. Her bill would allow counties’ planning under the Growth Management Act to establish a process for reviewing proposals to authorize housing and associated services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness when specific requirements are met.

In Austin, Texas, a similar program offers a tiny home community for the homeless with connections to employment opportunities, public transit access, and other necessary services to ensure long-term housing and community participation. Community is the essential factor that fosters a sense of safety, accountability, and establishes a foundation to build upon. This is a way to invest in housing and help people reengage with their community in a stable environment. 

House Bill 1952 is a real solution for the homelessness epidemic plaguing our state. This solution would create a partnership within our own local Pierce County jurisdiction to address this problem in our backyard.

It is disappointing that the majority party opted not to move this bill forward.

This is another example of the division in our state government; the unwillingness to address and fix the problem, the failure to listen and consider new ideas from the minority party, and the reluctance to work in a bipartisan manner to solve this critical crisis before us.

We cannot continue the Seattle strategy of throwing dollars toward an issue with no accountability or results and expect a different outcome. Our communities deserve real leadership. I will continue to work with my colleagues to demand new strategies and measurable results for our investments to end homelessness.   

Restoring balance and trust in state government

Washington state is one of only four states in the nation that hands over unilateral authority to the governor to declare and maintain a state of emergency. During a prolonged state of emergency, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative branch has a minimal role in determining the policies set forth by the executive branch.

For over 700 days, we have been under the executive branch’s control – and more specifically, the governor’s control. In my recent survey, you expressed how important limiting the governor’s emergency powers authority is to you, our district, and the state.

House Republicans have pushed for emergency powers reform since 2020. We have presented several real solutions to restore the legislative voice in decision-making.

In the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee this week, Rep. Chris Corry of Yakima testified on his solution – House Bill 1772. I co-sponsored this legislation.

This legislation would allow the governor to act quickly during an emergency but limit that extraordinary executive authority to 60 days. If more time is needed, the Legislature could add another 60 days or more, as needed. House Bill 1772 would restore balance and trust in state government.

Many of you agree with what this bill would achieve. Over 5,200 people signed in to support this bill during the committee hearing. Please continue to stay active and involved in the legislative process.

Additionally, in the Senate Committee on State Government and Elections this week, testimony was heard on Senate Bill 5909. This bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Emily Randall of Bremerton, would allow the four legislative leaders in the Senate and House to cancel a state of emergency after 90 days.

Please visit this website for more information on this legislation and all Republican efforts to limit the governor’s emergency powers authority.

Punitive policies make daily life more expensive

I continue to advocate for policies to help alleviate financial burdens for everyone in our district and oppose punitive policies and ideas that make daily life more expensive.

Many of you have experienced insurance rate increases following Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s adoption of an emergency rule banning the use of credit history in calculating insurance premium rates for auto, home, and renter insurance.

Emergency rules last for up to 120 days and may not be subsequently extended unless a permanent rule is pursued. Here is a timeline of the events that brought us to this permanent rule adoption this week.

On March 22, 2021, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) adopted the first emergency rule to temporarily ban credit history in calculating insurance rates for three years.

On July 15, 2021, the OIC adopted a subsequent, identical emergency rule to cover the July 20 expiration of the first emergency rule in March.

On Oct. 8, 2021, a Thurston County judge overturned the emergency rule stating Insurance Commissioner Kreidler did not have “good cause” to file an emergency.

On Feb. 1, 2022, the OIC adopted a permanent rule. Insurers will have to comply by March 4.

Here are some articles that might interest you on this issue.

I will fight against this action and support any legislation that nullifies this rule.

Resources and important links

I hope you will bookmark, save, and share the links below.

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