The 2022 Legislative Session: What went right for Conservatives?
By Guest Columnist Nancy Churchill The 2022 Legislative Session ended on Thursday, March 10. If you want a basic recap of what happened during session, I recommend “What passed? What died? Washington’s 2022 legislative session wrap up,” by Austin Jenkins at NWNews (bit.ly/3w44zQG).
The video recap by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) is also worth your time (bit.ly/3q2YJLl). Wilcox describes his disappointments from the session: a failure to fix last year’s “public safety reforms,” the failure to reform the governor’s emergency powers, the passage of a massively exploding operating budget, no tax breaks despite a record budget surplus, along with a transportation budget that only spends money in central Puget Sound and which is funded with NEW taxes and fee increases.
However, our Republican legislators did have some remarkable victories this session despite being the minority in both houses. Let’s take a look at some blocks and stops.
The sudden death of HB 1099
The biggest unexpected win was at 10 p.m. on the last day of the session with the sudden death of HB 1099 (bit.ly/3I8Rc3R). HB 1099 was intended to use comprehensive planning to drive the climate change agenda, and environmentalists were excited. In the Senate, Republicans had succeeded in getting amendments passed which watered down the impact of the legislation. House progressives refused to concur in the amendments so a conference committee was formed. The negotiations in conference would have restored the bill to its former environmental glory, but also included the insertion of some new language which was necessary to persuade certain senators to flip their votes. The new language was challenged by Senate Republicans as being out of scope. Lawyers were consulted, and they delayed the negotiations until the evening of the last day of session. By then, over in the House, the clock was ticking down towards midnight—the constitutionally mandated end of session.
The House Republican Caucus, aware of the clock, began vigorously debating the Operating Budget currently on the floor. One after the other, every Republican representative used their full allotment of time to debate the budget. If all the Republicans speak to a bill, it takes about two and a half hours of debate. Far too late, the Democrats realized they had already run out of time to bring 1099 to the floor of the House. They couldn’t finish the debate on the Operating Budget and then have another long debate on 1099 in the time left. Although the bill had finally been voted on in the Senate, the Senate Republicans had held up the bill just long enough to make it too late to bring it up for a successful vote in the House.
By working together, the House and Senate Republican caucuses were ready and able to maximize on a rare Democratic caucus mistake to block a final vote on HB 1099. If you want to see how damaging this was to the Democratic leadership, just visit Twitter and look up #YESonHB1099 (bit.ly/3J9MUux). Other wins – bills that never made it out of committee
All bills get assigned to a committee, and the first hearing in committee allows for public testimony. This year, several conservative activist groups effectively used the public hearing process and they helped to stop a few bad bills in committee!
HB 1117, Promoting salmon recovery and HB 1918, reducing emissions from outdoor power equipment both passed the House but got stuck in Senate Ways and Means. HB 1156, ranked choice voting; HB 1770, strengthening energy codes; HB 1838, salmon recovery and HB 2026, per-mile charge on vehicles never even made it out of the House.
A bill that was stopped last session, HB 1837, repetitive motion Injuries, was resurrected by House Democrats and made it over to the Senate, but died after strong opposition in public hearing from a suddenly united business community. HB 1868, hospital staffing, which would have killed rural hospitals, likewise made it over to the Senate, but received stiff opposition in public hearings.
Notable bills from the Senate that died in committee: SB 5188, Washington state public bank; SB 5543, zero-emission landscaping equipment incentive program; SB 5636, automatic voter registration, and SB 5843, false election statements.
The following bills made it through the Senate, but got stuck in their House committees: SB 5613, concerning the use of dogs to hunt black bear, cougar or bobcat (a local control issue); SB 5597, voting rights violations and SB 5662, right-of-way camping/housing.
The extremely weak emergency powers reform bill, SB 5909, made it over to the floor of the House, but after House Republicans dropped a strong amendment on it, the debate was suddenly shut down by the House speaker (bit.ly/3w4RJl4). House Democrats could have easily defeated the amendment, and voted the bill through, but they didn’t want to allow any debate on the merits of the amendment at all.
Yes, the Democrats were up to no good, and they managed to pass some awful legislation this session. But, conservative activist groups were more involved in public hearings and our Republican legislators were smart and well prepared! Please take a minute to write a note of thanks to your smart, savvy, and dedicated Republican legislators. They fought hard for you!
Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.