2022 session recap: More spending, no tax relief, and still no emergency powers reform
The 2022 legislative session is now in the rearview mirror. It has been our honor to represent and serve the people of the 16th district and be your voice in Olympia. This session featured 100 percent remote committee testimony with some in-person floor action, much like last year. The good news is many legislators, including all three of us in the 16th District, were able to finally vote in person by the end of session.
Also, much like last year, state spending, tax relief, emergency powers, law enforcement, and gun control captured most of the headlines.
Though most COVID-related restrictions are over, we are still living under a state of emergency with a one-person rule. The governor continues to operate with unbalanced and unchecked power, with no input from the Legislature or the people of Washington.
Despite numerous proposals from our side of the aisle over the last two years, including additional bills this session, majority party legislators have chosen to allow this state of emergency to continue, and the governor has given no indication it will end anytime soon.
Another pressing issue this session was fixing the damage from last year's law enforcement legislation that caused so much confusion and put our peace officers and our communities at risk. We offered several bills to correct and clarify these flawed bills, but once again, most of these proposals were rejected.
On a positive note, lawmakers did pass three bills that will make things at least a little better. House Bills 1719 and 1735 have already been signed into law, and House Bill 2037 is on the governor's desk awaiting his signature. These three bills will improve officers' ability to make quick decisions, deescalate dangerous situations, help people experiencing a mental health crisis, and clarify when the use of force is allowed.
However, we feel these bills do not go far enough. Public safety is one of our top priorities, and we will continue to push for clearer and more balanced police reform policy and safer communities.
The majority also passed additional gun control this session that will turn many law-abiding citizens into criminals and make our communities less safe. Senate Bill 5078 bans the sale, manufacturer, or transfer of firearms magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds. Additionally, House Bill 1630 prohibits openly carrying firearms at local government meetings and county election offices. Concealed pistol licenses would still be allowed.
Lastly, House Bill 1705 will limit the purchase of firearms and firearm parts, including receivers and frames purchased in the state that don't have unique serial numbers or a registration. This effectively restricts hobby firearm owners from building and assembling firearms at home. Blaming lawful gun owners for societal problems is misguided. Let's hold people accountable for their actions instead of going after law-abiding gun owners.
As with each session, we passed new state budgets. The operating, transportation and capital budgets are supplemental to last year's two-year budgets.
Washington has seen a massive revenue increase over the last year, giving the state a record budget surplus of more than $15 billion over four years. However, despite that record revenue, the supplemental budget will spend nearly all this surplus without giving any meaningful tax relief to the people of Washington.
It's time to stop talking about wanting to help working families and actually do it. We have record revenue, plus a historic surplus. If we aren't going to offer tax relief now, then when? With so much additional money available, now is the time to give back to taxpayers. We offered meaningful relief to help families and individuals struggling the most, but those were not accepted.
The Legislature also passed the supplement transportation budget and a massive $17 billion transportation spending package, which will impact Washington. Unfortunately, the transportation package was not developed in a bipartisan fashion, as is tradition. We introduced our own transportation plan and package, but it wasn't considered despite the numerous real solutions included in our plan.
Instead, the adopted package spends $17 billion over 16 years, and much of that funding will come from new taxes and fees paid by the people of Washington.
Additionally, the transportation spending package focuses mainly on projects in Western Washington. It ignores many pressing transportation issues in rural areas, including several projects waiting to be completed for years. For example, no money was included in the transportation budget to complete the U.S. Highway 12 widening project from the Snake River to Walla Walla. For those reasons, we voted against the majority's transportation package.
We worked extremely hard for long hours on your behalf this session, and we continue to do everything in our power to pass good legislation that helps all Washingtonians. And we will continue fighting for your well-being throughout the interim and for as long as we have the privilege to serve in the Legislature.
Now that session has ended, and most restrictions have been lifted, we look forward to meeting with you in person again. We are here to listen, and we want to hear from you. Please visit our websites for contact information.
It's truly an honor to represent you and be your voice in the Legislature. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.
Editor's note: Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, Rep. Mark Klicker, R-Walla Walla and Sen. Perry Dozier, R-Waitsburg, serve the 16th Legislative District.
As printed in the Dayton Chronicle and the Prosser Record-Bulletin