Author Archives: kimberlywirtz

Canceling parole for murderer Timothy Pauley should not have been a tough decision, says Braun

By kimberlywirtz | Published on May 20, 2022

OLYMPIA…Gov. Jay Inslee released his decision today to cancel the parole granted to convicted murderer Timothy Pauley by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board. Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, shared his reaction.

“It’s a relief that the governor came to his senses and canceled the parole order for Mr. Pauley. The governor said his decision was based on thorough deliberation. I don’t know what he had to consider so carefully – denying parole in this case should be one of the easiest decisions he’s ever had to make. And the Democratic policies that allowed a man who murdered three people and left another for dead to be granted parole in the first place are a terrible miscarriage of justice.

“The victims’ families were assured Mr. Pauley and his accomplice would never be released. How can victims trust their state government when someone who is sentenced to life without parole might be back out on the streets for good behavior behind bars? They received that sentence because they have committed a crime so terrible that the public needs permanent protection from them. The system needs to live up to that responsibility to society.

“I’d like to think the governor canceled the order out of duty to protect the public, but I suspect it had a lot to do with public backlash over skyrocketing crime. Whatever his  motive, it was the only acceptable decision. Mr. Pauley should never see the outside of his prison walls.

“We have to change the current mindset under the majority, which doesn’t take public safety as seriously as it should. We must put the rights of victims and the safety of the public above the rights of the offenders. People must be able to trust that state government is working to protect them. Right now, they can’t.”

Senate Republican Caucus joins in tribute to Slade Gorton, former U.S. senator, statesman

By kimberlywirtz | Published on May 05, 2022

OLYMPIA – As Washington state honored former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton yesterday with a long-delayed memorial service at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, members of the Senate Republican Caucus in Olympia recalled his contributions to the state and on the national stage.

Gorton, 92, died Aug. 19, 2020, after a six-decade career as one of Washington state’s leading political figures. A public memorial gathering was delayed by the COVID restrictions in place at the time.

Elected to the state House of Representatives in 1958, Gorton quickly rose to become House Republican leader. As attorney general under Gov. Dan Evans, Gorton was a leader among the “new breed” Republicans of the 1960s in Washington state who modernized state government and left a legacy of pragmatic decision-making and effective partisan leadership, said Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia.

“Slade Gorton exemplified the best in politics. What he accomplished was tremendous, from saving the Mariners to maintaining vital defense facilities in Washington state and chairing the federal 9/11 commission. But I think the perspective he brought to the public arena was just as important.

“He understood that being right is never enough – you also need to win – and the best way to do it is to negotiate from strength, and to convince the other team of the wisdom of compromise. He recognized the place of partisanship in our system, and that the process can help drive solutions when everyone plays by the same rules.

“For more than 40 years, he was point man for Washington Republicans on redistricting. He remained an elder statesman in Washington politics long after he left the U.S. Senate in 2001, offering advice behind the scenes on statehouse strategies and political campaigns, and the trends that would shape Washington politics in the future. He was one of the first to recognize the geographic realignment of political parties in our state, as Seattle turned darkest blue and most of the rest of the state went bright red. He understood that areas outside the central Puget Sound region were being disenfranchised and denied a voice. To win his Senate races in 1988 and 1994, he built a coalition among those who were being shut out, and he offered a vision of prosperity for the entire state, not just Seattle.

“Slade had the right idea. Political parties win on the breadth of their appeal, and the people are better represented when their elected leaders take an interest in the state as a whole. Slade made a lasting contribution to Washington and its people that continues to influence us today.”

‘Unscrupulous’ leak intensifies acrimonious, passionate debate on abortion, says Braun

By kimberlywirtz | Published on May 03, 2022

OLYMPIA…Senate Republican Leader John Braun shared comments in reaction to the leaked draft majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion case, which proposes overturning the 1973 decision known as Roe v. Wade.

“This Supreme Court opinion does not change much in our state. Democrats have been quick to point out that the law here in Washington continues to provide opportunities for abortion procedures. Whatever the law, whatever your politics, fewer abortions should be a common goal.

“It is startling, though, that the draft opinion was leaked. If true, it’s not only possibly illegal, it’s an unscrupulous attempt to manipulate public opinion.

“Unfortunately, this is already intensifying the acrimony in the debate over a very contentious issue. People on both sides of this issue are very passionate about their beliefs. Hopefully this is a moment where we can all show grace.”

 

Seattle’s ‘Quality of Life Index’ aligns with Senate Republican priorities

By kimberlywirtz | Published on April 13, 2022

OLYMPIA…Senate Republican Leader John Braun offered the following reaction to poll results released this month by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce that share insights about what registered voters in Seattle, 60% of whom identify as Democrats, think of the city’s quality of life.

Since most Democratic legislators come from districts in King County, the poll represents opinions that have and will influence state law.

“It’s very validating to see that the results of this poll line up with the Senate Republican priorities to restore public safety, to return Washington to a state of affordability and to rebuild trust in government. Average, everyday people are concerned about being violently attacked or robbed in their homes or on the street. They are concerned about the safety of their children. They are worried they can’t afford to live in their hometown anymore. They look to their leaders to help and are getting very little assistance from those in charge.

“Senate Republicans spent the 2022 legislative session working to fix the anti-police laws passed by Democrats, but the ‘fixes’ the majority allowed didn’t go far enough. We fought to have penalties increased for people who use guns in the commission of a crime and for those committing armed robbery of cannabis shops specifically, but Democrats killed the bills. We pushed back on Democrat bills that are going to increase the cost of housing during our housing crisis. And we opposed all new taxes and fees because we have a $15 billion budget surplus. Part of that should go back to the taxpayers. Democrats instead used it to increase spending, which is not only irresponsible but insulting to all those people struggling to pay the bills.

“Washingtonians around the state can look at the results of this poll and see that many in Seattle are finally echoing their concerns about the quality of life here. It’s in trouble and Democrat policies are directly to blame.”

 

Key insights of note for legislators to consider as they face further fixes of the Democrats’ laws that many argue have threatened public safety, affordability and trust in government:

 

  • Two-thirds of Seattle voters have actively considered moving out of the city. Affordability and public safety are the top two reasons why.
  • Homelessness remains the top concern, by a wide margin. Residents almost universally want to invest in better mental health care, outreach to those living in camps and expanding partnerships between state and local entities.
  • The number of people saying that they don’t feel safe visiting downtown Seattle, and who think their own neighborhoods are less safe, is increasing.
  • The top five issues respondents say would have the biggest impact on improving the quality of life in Seattle all relate to public safety and crime.
  • Respondents do not trust the Seattle City Council to handle police reform and they now believe fundamental reform and hiring more officers is the best approach. Gone are the calls to “Defund the police.”
  • Nearly 60% think local taxes are too high and they do not trust the City of Seattle to spend tax dollars wisely.
  • Respondents clearly favor increasing access and opportunity as the path toward shared prosperity rather than through increased taxes and income redistribution.
  • Between the previous poll taken in August 2021 and the new poll taken in March 2022, the “Quality of Life Index” saw little change with people viewing it very negatively.

 

Direct anger about crime toward Democrats’ public-safety failures, says Republican leader

By kimberlywirtz | Published on March 24, 2022

CENTRALIA… Senate Republican Leader John Braun says Washington residents shocked by the continued wave of murders, shootings, car thefts and other lawless behavior should direct their anger and frustration toward Democrat legislators and their abject failure to reestablish public safety by supporting anti-crime legislation.

“The majority Democrats did almost nothing this year to fix the anti-police laws they passed in 2021. Those laws are making life easier for criminals in our state – and the criminals know it. They aren’t worried about the three firearms bills signed yesterday. Those will do nothing about the record rates of homicide and other violent crimes in our largest counties. The car thieves are having a big year and are probably grateful that the majority blocked our efforts to allow more police pursuits. Criminals can read how the Clark County sheriff has cut back on calls because of short staffing. Republicans proposed a solution to help communities hire more officers, but Democrats refused to help. And why stop robbing pot shops when the majority blocks a Republican bill to increase the penalty?

“The members of our caucus were outraged this year when the majority nearly passed legislation to reduce penalties for crimes involving a firearm, and allow the most violent felons in custody to seek early release. I understand why people get livid when they see video of people being assaulted on our streets, and perceive the courts have become a revolving door for criminals. Still, it’s completely wrong to spout things like ‘get a rope’ or call for any form of violent response. That’s completely unacceptable, especially from people who are or aspire to be lawmakers.

“You don’t fight crime with inflammatory comments. You fight crime by making the right laws, and providing the resources to enforce those laws. Our Democratic colleagues have shown they can’t be trusted on either count. People who think the pendulum has swung too far in the criminals’ favor have an opportunity to hold the majority accountable for how its policies make them feel less safe. They can do that by making sure the members of the next Legislature put more priority on reestablishing public safety.”

Follow Oregon’s example – end state-employee vaccine mandate, say Republican leaders

By kimberlywirtz | Published on March 04, 2022

OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, shared the following reaction to the announcement from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that she is rescinding her vaccine mandate for nearly 40,000 state workers.

Brown is quoted in Oregon’s largest newspaper as saying “extraordinary emergency” orders are no longer necessary as “we learn to live with this virus.”

Gov. Jay Inslee has given no indication, however, that he plans to rescind Washington’s vaccine mandate on state employees and others. Republicans are calling on him to follow Oregon’s lead.

“Other state leaders are realizing that we’re in a period of transition from addressing COVID as an emergency to learning to manage it as part of the new normal. We understand Governor Inslee has been reluctant to take Washington through that transition – but it’s time. We know the governor is doing what he thinks is best and doesn’t always like to follow the example of others. But what’s best now is to end vaccine discrimination in state employment. It would help solve current staffing problems, restoring services that are on hold or significantly delayed.

“We urge the governor to trust the people of Washington by moving us even further forward and out of COVID limbo.”

Inslee shouldn’t assign motives to legislators who dare to question him

By kimberlywirtz | Published on February 28, 2022

Governor should loosen grip, trust the people, be more inclusive in pandemic decisions, says Braun

 

OLYMPIA…Senate Republican Leader John Braun offered the following reaction to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement and accusations during his news conference earlier today.

 

“No governor has exerted emergency powers during this pandemic as long as Governor Inslee. Tomorrow marks the start of his third year of his state of emergency, and that’s a very long time to bear sole responsibility for calling all the shots. The governor clearly seems to believe he has made all the right moves, and he is entitled to that view. He is less entitled to assign motives to members of the legislative branch who dare to question his decisions and suggest a different path.

“If the governor had been more inclusive during the past two years, instead of meeting only with Democratic legislators regarding his proclamations, he might actually understand what Republican leaders view as important. Maybe he would then be less inclined to cast political aspersions in a random and divisive way. We are for personal choice. If working people want to continue wearing a mask after March 12, they should be able to do so without threat of losing their jobs – and he agrees with us on that. Along that line it was surprising today to hear the governor profess his support for nurses and other working people and their choices, as though he had nothing to do with so many of them losing their jobs last fall.

“Republicans in the Legislature believe all emergency proclamations made by any Washington governor should have a time limit, and be extended only if the legislative branch agrees. We are for restoring the balance of power in Washington to once again include the branch of government that is closest to the people. Other states have done this already because they trust their citizens. If the governor is serious about moving away from pandemic mode, as he has said, it’s time to loosen his grip and trust the people.”

 

Republican leaders: End statewide mask mandate, state of emergency today

By kimberlywirtz | Published on 

OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, released the following comments upon hearing that Gov. Jay Inslee will announce that Washington’s statewide mask mandate will end March 12 – about a week earlier than planned.

The governor has given no indication, however, that he plans to end the state of emergency and his one-man rule as it enters its third year tomorrow.

“California has already ended its statewide indoor mask mandate. And now California’s Senate President Pro Tem says the Democrats will consider a Republican proposal to end Governor Newsom’s state of emergency, which also began two years ago this week. While we’re glad to see Governor Inslee adjust his timeline for ending the statewide mask mandate to March 12, we’re disappointed that there seems to be no end in sight for the one-man rule he has enjoyed – especially after the Democrat majority officially abdicated all legislative oversight of the emergency proclamations.

“Wearing a mask in public should be a personal choice. We should end the mask mandate today instead of almost two weeks from now.

“The governor should also end the state of emergency and support real emergency-powers reform – not the hollow bill pushed by the Democrats. Tomorrow marks the start of the third year of the people being shut out of the decision-making process. No one wants to interfere with the timeliness of emergency orders. But there should be legitimate legislative oversight 30 or 90 days after an emergency is declared and after a proclamation is issued. As it stands now, we all have to just sit and wait until the governor decides he’s ready to give up this power and restore balance to state government.”

Democrats’ budgets treat taxpayers harshly, Republican leaders say

By kimberlywirtz | Published on February 22, 2022

$15 billion surplus more than enough to fund meaningful tax relief

 

OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, expressed their deep disappointment in the Senate and House 2021-23 supplemental budgets after they were released Monday.

“We’re stunned at the continuing inability or unwillingness of the Democratic majorities to listen to the people and take to heart the financial pain people are in daily. Neither of the operating-budget proposals gives any real, meaningful tax relief to middle-income Washingtonians, while their transportation packages pile on with fees and the new fuel tax. Instead, Democrats pay lip service to the needs of people trying to recover from unemployment and other losses. Washingtonians deserve better. They deserve direct tax relief that makes it easier to stretch a dollar right now. They need tax relief that helps employers to create more jobs instead of laying people off and shutting facilities down. They do not need gimmicks like a three-day sales-tax holiday.

“The time for relief is now when we have a historic surplus. State spending has nearly doubled since Gov. Inslee took office, far outpacing average worker wage growth. It’s up 90% from 2011-13 to 2021-23 and it’s grown at a rate roughly four times that of inflation. When do taxpayers get relief from that level of government greed?

“When the governor released his budget a couple of months ago, he and other Democrats made excuses for not including tax relief. They said the surplus was mostly ‘one-time’ money while Washington’s needs were ongoing. Clearly that was a misrepresentation. Less than 20% of the surplus – only about $2.3 billion — is one-time money. The rest is ongoing – just like the increases in spending we see in the budget proposals out today. The latest revenue forecast increased an already-historic surplus to a whopping $15 billion. To put that into perspective, budget writers are usually happy if there’s a surplus of any significance. There is no reasonable explanation for why much of this extra money did not turn into true, ongoing relief from the inflation and tax burdens people are feeling.

“Republicans have proposed fiscally sound ideas for tax relief. Not one has been incorporated because they interfere with Democrats’ increases in spending that show a misstep in priorities. Education funding would drop back down to only 44% of the state budget from the more than 50% we raised it to in the solution to the McCleary decision. That’s not treating education like it’s our paramount duty. And it could lead Washington toward a McCleary 2.0.

“The bottom line is that there’s apparently no state surplus large enough for Democrats to allow the people to keep more of their own money. How many billions more would it take? This approach undermines any attempts at rebuilding public trust.”

 

Legislative Republican leaders: Don’t wait another month to end state mask mandates

By kimberlywirtz | Published on February 17, 2022

OLYMPIA…Legislative Republican leaders had the following to say after Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that the statewide indoor mask mandate and the mask mandate for students in grades K-12 will end on March 21.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm:

“We stand by what we said last week: It’s time to end state mask mandates now. Don’t wait another month. If someone wants to wear a mask in public, it should be by choice – not by mandate.  

“Washington continues to be an outlier on this policy, and it’s causing great harm to our students’ social, emotional and academic growth. Governor Inslee and Superintendent Reykdal not being the same page last week caused turmoil in schools and put school districts in a difficult position. This policy has also been hard on our small businesses and workforce at a time they are facing other challenges.  

“We are in the middle of a legislative session yet Democrats have no interest in having any debate on this or any of the other mandates that impact every school, business, and person across our state. Democrats have also made it clear that they will not pass real emergency-powers reform. The governor and Democrats are misreading the sentiments of Washingtonians on this issue and so many others, like public safety, housing and taxes. They continue to pursue yesterday’s ideological agenda. Republicans will continue to listen and respond.”