As we pass the home stretch of the 2021 legislative session, I wanted to thank you for the honor of representing you in the Washington State Senate. 2020 was an extremely difficult year for all of us and the fact that you have entrusted me to be your voice in Olympia during these trying times is greatly appreciated.
This year, I serve on the following committees:
- Early Learning & K-12 Education
- Law and Justice
- Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation
Today I want to share an update on some of the bills moving through the legislature this session.
Damaging Anti-Policing Legislation
The amount of anti-policing legislation under the guise of accountability measures this year is truly baffling — especially when we see a double digit increases in violent crime in many cities throughout the country. If passed, many of these bills will detrimentally impact public safety around our state and in our communities. Washington state already has the fewest police officers per capita in the United States, and many of these bills would further reduce numbers of officers and prevent the hiring of qualified new officers.
One bad law enforcement bill making its way through the legislature this year is Senate Bill 5051, which modifies the priorities and composition of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). This bill expands the background investigation requirements for persons applying to be a peace officer, reserve officer, and corrections officer positions. It also removes confidentiality of complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions for certified officers and requires information be maintained on a publicly searchable database.
This creates serious due process concerns for our officers. The CJTC could suspend an officer’s certification from an anonymous complaint or video. The decertification process needs to remain fair and ensure that cause for suspension actually exists before an officer is removed from service. This bill could open the floodgates for false reporting and defamation cases that would bog down our complaint investigation processes.
In the justice system, you are considered innocent until proven guilty, and this legislation would turn that idea on its head by making an office guilty until proven innocent. Who would want to be a part of law enforcement in this light? This will certainly cause a decrease of interest in the pursuit of law enforcement as a career option and only worsen a growing problem of officers leaving the force and leaving our communities at higher risk of criminal activity.
Additionally, House Bill 1054, also seeks to hinder our law enforcement officers. This legislation Prohibits law enforcement agencies from acquiring or using certain types of tactical equipment and establishes restrictions on the use of tear gas. It also prevents an officer from seeking, and a court from issuing, a search or arrest warrant granting an express exception to the “knock and announce” rule.
Our state should not disarm the our police. This legislation would take away the tools police officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force. Police officers are already held to a very high standard. Our state needs to focus on real solutions that will bridge the gap of the already-fragile relationship between police officers and the communities they serve, not widen it.
I strongly opposed these bills and voted against them. I will always serve to protect our officers’ ability to do the very difficult job of enforcing the law and protecting our communities.
Nightmare of Unneeded New Taxes
This year, many new tax proposals have been introduced to take even more money out of the pockets of those that need the most help.
We are hit with a dizzying list of taxes in Washington and the proposed legislation would add more to our tax burden. The proposed new taxes by Democrats are absolutely tone deaf as we try to negotiate the personal budget impacts of our state’s COVID-19 response. On top of all the new proposed taxes, we are seeing revenues far ahead of what we had expected this year. We are looking at nearly $3.3 billion over previous projections for the next two years and $5.2 billion over the four-year outlook. Our state has enough money – we do not need to increase taxes!
The capital gains tax and the plethora of carbon fuel taxes are particularly troubling.