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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We're already two weeks into the 2022 legislative session, which is scheduled to last 60-days and be a sprint to the finish line. However, we have much to cover over the next seven weeks that will affect everyone in Washington. Although I wish we could meet in-person this year, we are again working under virtual conditions, like last year.

Despite that, I hope you will continue to reach out to me and share your thoughts, questions, concerns, and bill ideas. As always, I'm here to listen and represent you in the legislative process. Even if we can't meet in-person, you can set up a personal meeting with me via Zoom, by clicking here.

2022 Session Priorities

House Republicans are focused on several issues, including four major priorities. Click here to learn more. I strongly support these priorities, but I want to emphasize the following issues.

1. Strengthening communities by making public safety a priority and supporting effective community policing

Our communities continue to be placed at greater risk as the majority party passes legislation that is easy on crime and tough on law enforcement. As a result, we have seen an increase in violent gang and drug-related crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assaults. Additionally, we continue to deal with chronic homelessness, drug addiction, property crime, and untreated mental health needs, which also make our communities less safe.

We need to work on reforming the anti-law enforcement bills the majority party passed last year. Since those bills became law, they have created much confusion and uncertainty for our law enforcement officers, making it harder for them to get bad actors off the streets and protect our communities.

Among other problems, the bills approved in 2021, specifically House Bill 1310 and House Bill 1054, prevent law enforcement officers from pursuing suspects and assisting with mental health calls. That needs to change. We will be working on these issues throughout this session.

2. Holding state government accountable, improving outcomes, and enacting emergency powers reform

The governor and his appointees have overseen a growing number of failures in our state, including:

  • A homelessness crisis that has only gotten worse, as mentioned above.
  • A lack of child care accessibility and affordability that has become another crisis.
  • A lack of housing affordability that puts Washington in the bottom 10 in the nation.
  • Drug overdose deaths are at an all-time high.
  • Violent crime is at a 25-year high, and we have the fewest number of police officers per thousand people.

These are just a few of the problems and failures that continue to plague our state and hurt Washingtonians. House Republicans will continue holding the governor and his state agencies accountable for these failures. Additionally, we will work to restore the public's trust by increasing oversight and implementing reforms that improve outcomes.

We are also focused on emergency powers reform. The power to create laws belongs to the Legislature and the people. However, the governor has been running our state by himself for nearly two years, without giving the Legislature a voice.

One of our biggest goals is to reform the governor's emergency powers and give the Legislature – and the people – a voice again. House Republicans will continue to fight for change to the state's emergency powers laws, which includes a new bill from Rep. Chris Corry. House Bill 1772 would increase legislative involvement in gubernatorial proclamations relating to a state of emergency and allow the Legislature to pass a concurrent resolution declaring the termination of a state of emergency.

While some emergencies require immediate decisions from the executive branch, long-lasting emergencies should include input from the Legislature. Two-years of unchecked, unilateral authority by one person is not how our state government was designed to work.

Negligent Driver Penalties

I have also introduced a few pieces of legislation this session, which you can follow here. However, I want to highlight House Bill 1972, concerning negligent driver penalties. This bill came from a meeting I had with a constituent who suffered a tragic loss.

He and his daughter were standing in their driveway, when a car being operated by a distracted driver left the road and entered their driveway. This father attempted to push his daughter out of harm's way but was unable to prevent her from being struck. She was killed in the accident. However, the driver of the vehicle paid a small fine and spent no time in jail. This was a tragic event, and this father wants drivers in these situations to be held to a higher level of accountability than just a small fine.

Currently, as the law is written, if a distracted driver shows up for his or her court hearing the most a judge can do is fine the driver $250 and order community service. However, this bill would allow judges, at their discretion, to impose criminal penalties for negligent driving involving the death of a vulnerable victim. Those penalties could possibly include prison time, a monetary fine, and a suspension of driving privileges for 90 days. Obviously, this bill will not bring this young woman back, but perhaps it could help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Getting Involved in the Legislative Process

Meeting remotely is not easy, but you can still share your input. Every legislative committee will be offering remote testimony options. You can testify online via Zoom, by phone, or submit written comments, from the comfort of your home, or anywhere you have Internet access.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

Please Stay in Touch!

Your feedback is invaluable as we move forward this session and work on the numerous pressing issues in our state. If you have any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns please reach out to me. Just reference the contact info below. I'm always here to listen in-person or electronically. You can set up a personal meeting with me via Zoom, by clicking here.

It's an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
RepresentativePaulHarris.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
paul.harris@leg.wa.gov
(564) 888-2393 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000