Tag Archives: Senate Republican Caucus

Surprise! Majority looks to abdicate a basic role of the legislative branch

By ericcampbell | Published on January 13, 2021

I can’t tell you how many people contacted my Senate office during the past nine-plus months about the unprecedented actions Governor Inslee has taken since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them, using words that made their frustration or desperation obvious, asked what legislators could do regarding the dozens of proclamations he’s made since declaring a state of emergency.

We asked our constituents to stand by patiently while we tried month after month to convince the governor to call a special legislative session. Republicans made a strong case that the legislative branch could do much to help with pandemic relief, but as everyone knows by now, Inslee resisted.

No one expected our Democrat colleagues to join in pushing for a special session – not during the many months that Inslee was campaigning for re-election. It eventually became clear Republicans would have to wait for our regular legislative session, when the governor could no longer get in the way.

With 26 of Inslee’s temporary proclamations set to expire in January, Republicans were prepared for the full legislative branch to perform its duty as a check on the executive branch, for the first time during this pandemic.

The majority Democrats had a surprise for us. They’ve proposed Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402, which would bundle those 26 emergency orders and extend them “until the termination of the state of emergency…or until rescinded by gubernatorial or legislative action.” In other words, no more legislative oversight. The majority says it’ll bring the legislation to a vote sometime today.

Considering how the governor’s proclamations affect the entire state, it’s reasonable to conclude Democrat legislators have heard the same frustration and desperation from their constituents as Republican legislators have. I’d have expected they also had some misgivings about being relegated to the sidelines by Governor Inslee.

Assuming SCR 8402 passes as filed, however, it would seem Democrat lawmakers are as willing to relegate themselves to the sidelines as the governor was – even if that means betraying constituents who have waited months for their concerns to be taken to the Capitol.

Or, to continue the “sidelines” theme, the legislative branch finally has possession of the football for the first time in months, yet the majority Democrats have decided to punt on first down and give the ball back to the executive branch.

It makes you wonder what the next 102 days will bring.

— Senate Republican Leader John Braun

Wilson dismayed by governor’s new restrictions related to COVID-19 situation

By ericcampbell | Published on November 17, 2020

VANCOUVER…Sen. Lynda Wilson said Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement of new restrictions on Washington employers, workers and families has her questioning whether he truly understands the depth of the economic and personal damage they will cause.

Wilson, R-Vancouver, is Republican leader of the Senate committee on economic development and trade. She also served on the governor’s pandemic-related business-recovery task force until it was abruptly disbanded in May, after just five weeks. With the food-service industry being one of Washington’s key economic sectors, her work to address the pandemic in Clark County has included many months of weekly meetings with up to 150 local restaurant owners.

Wilson offered this response regarding the restrictions on social gatherings and a variety of employers, which were made public over the weekend and began taking effect today. Indoor service at restaurants and bars statewide will again be prohibited starting tomorrow.

“It’s disheartening how the governor’s words and actions don’t match up. He claims the ‘science’ is driving this new round of restrictions when the data simply don’t support it. If the statistics from his own Department of Health say people are at the greatest risk in their own homes, and the hospitality industry is connected to only 1 percent of the COVID infections, why is he going after the restaurants again? The governor declares ‘inaction isn’t an option’ yet behind the scenes it took his office more than a month to decide that our local restaurant and bar owners will be allowed to put up tents to increase their outdoor seating capacity. And unbelievably, these business owners learned just yesterday that the tents can only have two sides and part of a third side, which is no help during the rainy season and winter for an industry that depends on occupancy. Many of these employers could go under for good at any moment, and this is the ‘action’ they get?

“Since Governor Inslee unilaterally rolled out this new round of restrictions many people have asked again why the Legislature doesn’t intervene. The answer is the same now as it was in the spring – we have to be called into a special session. That can only be done by the governor or with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House, which means the majority Democrats would have to allow such a vote. If it was up to me we would be in a special session right now, because there are many things the Legislature could do to help employers get through this latest setback, and our state needs every job it can get.

“The governor calls these new restrictions a ‘bold’ step, but it’s November, not March or May when so much less was known about the virus and how to limit the spread. There is nothing bold about him forcing employers to shut their doors again, or causing people to see their incomes disappear again. Even if it’s temporary, the pain goes far deeper than just the employee – it hits every child and spouse in that household. Besides, there’s no reason to trust his new edict will only last four weeks, and the people who can’t work for at least the next month have no reason to trust in the Employment Security Department, considering its atrocious response to unemployment claims earlier this year.

“When the governor puts his hand over his heart and says he has a ‘real feeling of empathy’ for those who will be hurt by his actions, I’d like for him to see the social-media posts from my constituents whose jobs are disappearing overnight. Their inability to control their own fate has sent them into tailspins of despair and anxiety that will be hard if not impossible to reverse. Maybe they can live without a Thanksgiving gathering or a birthday party or a football afternoon a lot easier than they can live without a paycheck, but the governor isn’t giving them any choice.”

Braun says state’s response to pandemic is weakened by lack of involvement from Legislature

By ericcampbell | Published on 

OLYMPIA… State government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is suffering from Gov. Jay Inslee’s resistance to calling the state Legislature into session to help with key decisions, Sen. John Braun said today.

Braun, R-Centralia, Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, offered this reaction to new restrictions announced Sunday by Inslee. The governor is attempting to put limits on indoor social gatherings and has increased restrictions on much business activity to where they were earlier in the year:

“More than 250 days since the first COVID-19 death was reported in our state, it’s clear the pandemic is too big for one person or one branch of government to handle. The state’s response has consisted primarily of unilateral mandates from the governor, and no matter how well-intentioned he may be, no American would support the idea that a chief executive should use emergency powers indefinitely to decide any important issue. The people of our state have become tired of having their lives controlled and disrupted by one person. The state’s response would be more effective and better received if the entire Legislature is involved, so that people in all 39 counties could have confidence that their perspectives are being considered.

“If two heads are better than one, then all the heads in the state Legislature plus Governor Inslee’s must be better than the governor’s alone. We have ideas for tax, fee and regulatory relief as well as financial assistance to help small businesses survive and recover – steps that can be taken without putting a larger hole in the state budget – and it’s clear the number of small businesses needing help is only going to grow due to the governor’s new round of restrictions. Also, there are about 300 million dollars in federal pandemic aid that still need to be allocated before the year ends. These are decisions the Legislature needs to make because our branch has budget authority, and it would be smart to make them during a special legislative session that is tightly focused on pandemic relief, sometime in the next month. I realize the 2021 legislative session is less than two months away, but the agenda for that is already full enough.

“We can look at the same COVID-19 statistics as the governor and come to different conclusions about what they mean and how to respond. The new round of restrictions on businesses ignores the fact that it’s in the best interests of employers to ensure their customers and employees feel as safe as possible. The unenforceable new limits on social gatherings go against the idea that the people of our state care deeply about the safety and well-being of those around them. No one is questioning that the pandemic should be taken seriously, or that we should all take precautions to limit the spread of the virus. But it’s one thing to inform the people, and trust them, and another thing to dictate how they should live. The dictates need to end.”

Braun says Boeing 787 decision should be incentive for lawmakers to increase support for manufacturing

By ericcampbell | Published on October 01, 2020

OLYMPIA… Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, offered this reaction to The Boeing Company’s decision to shift Washington-based work on its 787 jetliner to South Carolina:

“Washington has been incredibly fortunate to have Boeing as its largest employer. Of course we all would have preferred for this move to be in our state’s favor, knowing what it will mean for so many families and communities and other employers – and for the state budget. At the same time, no one should be slamming the company for making what is obviously a business decision. The COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions related to it have been the last straw for many businesses across Washington, not just Boeing.

“While our state is still the aerospace capital of the world, I do not want to sit by and watch this sector of our economy fall into decline the way non-aerospace manufacturing has during this century. No matter what else our state has to offer, the cost of doing business is ultimately the key to keeping employers and attracting new ones. Had we succeeded in lowering the tax rate on non-aerospace manufacturing a few years ago, it would have saved Boeing a big tax headache as well, and today’s decision might not have happened.

“This should give the Legislature incentive to take bold steps now to promote a brighter future for all manufacturing in Washington. Eliminating the manufacturing B&O tax would do much to secure the future of aerospace in our state and also provide a huge boost to all the other manufacturers who are trying to survive the economic fallout from the pandemic. That would be a smart move for the Legislature, and we should take it.”

 

The Majority Party increased the tax on businesses by 20%…

By tracyellis | Published on October 08, 2019

…To better understand the impact on real people, Sen. Steve O’Ban interviewed doctors, and other small business owners.

The views expressed by individual members are not necessarily those of the entire caucus.

Senate Republicans were hard at work for their constituents during the legislative session

By tracyellis | Published on May 28, 2019

The views expressed by individual members are not necessarily those of the entire caucus.

Senate Republican leaders offer condolences amid Amtrak tragedy in Pierce County

By Laudan | Published on December 18, 2017

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Pierce County, who serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair, and Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler offered their condolences to victims of the Amtrak train derailment.

“We are praying for the victims, families and all those involved in this tragedy,” said Becker. “I am thankful for the fast, robust response from our community’s firefighters, police and EMTs. This incident is unprecedented for our Pierce County community and I urge patience as people work to alleviate traffic, provide needed medical care and reconnect loved ones.”

“I am in conversation with the Governor’s Office and other leaders to determine how the state will respond to this emergency,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “I echo Senator Becker’s sentiments. The people affected by this tragedy are in our prayers throughout Washington. We will do all we can to help citizens impacted by this disaster.”

Women’s History Month 2015

By Laudan | Published on March 25, 2015

Narrated by Senator Parlette, this video commemorates Women’s History Month by recognizing the achievements of the women in Washington’s past that paved the way for women in leadership today.

State Senate majority creates new government accountability committee

By Laudan | Published on December 09, 2014

Announces committee leadership for 2015 legislative session

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus announced today Senate committee leadership for the 2015 legislative session including the addition of a new committee that will focus on government accountability and reform issues.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said, “The committee leadership reflects the exceptional talent in this caucus who have already gotten great results for the people of this state. Over the past two years they’ve proven we can work with Democrats to prioritize education and balance the budget while protecting hardworking taxpayers.”

Schoesler said that the addition of a new committee to oversee accountability and reform issues is a priority for the caucus. “We have a crisis of confidence and competence,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “Our main focus will be to restore people’s trust and to make sure state government works for the people who pay the bills and not just special interests.”

Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, was appointed to chair the new Senate Accountability and Reform Committee.

In contrast, House Democrat leadership announced this week the dissolution of their Government Accountability and Oversight panel. “I’m proud that we have made government accountability a top priority,” Schoesler said.

Dec. 10 marks the second anniversary of the founding of the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate when two Democrats joined with Republicans to form the coalition. The 2014 elections gave Republicans a clear majority in the Senate and full chairmanships for the committees.

“This does not change our commitment to collaboration with the minority Democrats in the Senate,” Schoesler said, “We continue to welcome any Senate member who wants to make education the top priority and keep state government living within its means.”

Senate committee chairs and vice chairs are as follows:

Senate Accountability and Reform Committee deals with issues involving the management of government, including transparency, efficiency programs and strategic planning. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, chair and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, vice chair.

Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee considers issues relating to agricultural land and production, food safety and policies and programs that affect economic development in rural areas of the state. Senator-elect Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, chair and Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, vice chair.

Senate Commerce and Labor Committee considers issues relating to the workers’ compensation system, the unemployment insurance system, collective bargaining, professional regulation and consumer protection. Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, chair and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair.

Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee considers policy and finance issues related to schools and learning from birth through twelfth grade, and preparation for later learning experiences. Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, chair and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair.

Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee considers issues relating to power generation and transmission, water quality, environmental pollution, recycling, telephone and Internet service. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chair and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, vice chair.

Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee deals with issues concerning banks, credit, lending, insurance companies, financial markets and multi-family housing. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, chair and Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, vice chair.

Senate Governmental Operations Committee considers issues relating to elections and campaigns, public records and public meetings, and the operation of state and local governments. Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, chair.

Senate Health Care Committee deals with issues concerning the state’s health care system, including health care facilities, health care professions, long-term care, state implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act and medical marijuana. Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, chair and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair.

Senate Higher Education Committee considers issues concerning public colleges and universities and private higher education institutions. Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, vice chair.

Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee deals with issues involving supported housing, social-service programs, foster care, youth and adult mental health issues. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, chair and Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, vice chair.

Senate Law and Justice Committee deals with issues of civil and criminal law and corrections, including prisons and jails, criminal penalties, sentencing, and oversight of courts and law enforcement. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, chair and Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, vice chair.

Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee considers issues relating to fish and wildlife, parks and recreation, state lands management, mining, forestry and fire prevention. Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, chair and Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, vice chair.

Senate Rules Committee considers bills reported from policy and fiscal committees and determines the scheduling of their consideration on the Senate floor. Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, will lead the MCC majority on the committee. Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch will serve as vice chair and Lt. Governor Brad Owen, D-Shelton, will serve as chair.

Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee deals with issues regarding tourism, international trade, economic development incentives, technical assistance for business. Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, chair and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair.

Senate Transportation Committee deals with issues involving the movement of goods and people, and oversees the state highways budget. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, chair and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, vice chair for the transportation budget and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, vice chair.

Senate Ways and Means Committee writes the state’s operating and capital budgets, oversees tax policy, and reviews all bills that affect state operating and capital-budget spending. Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, chair, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair, Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair, education finance and Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, vice chair, capital budget.

The 2015 legislative session begins Monday, Jan. 12, and will last 105 days.