Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re in the home stretch. Sunday, April 23rd, is the last day of the 2023 legislative session. We spent the last few weeks holding daily floor sessions during which we debated dozens of bills, both good and bad, that will affect the lives of everyone in Washington.
Washington state hiding kids from their parents
The state House voted 57-39 Wednesday night to strip parents of the right to know where their children are in certain circumstances.
Senate Bill 5599 would exempt youth shelters and other similar organizations from parental notification requirements if a child enters their facility seeking or receiving “gender affirming” treatment or reproductive health care services.
Under current law, minors can receive these services without parental knowledge or permission. This bill strictly deals with the duty of youth shelters to notify parents of the whereabouts of their children. I believe this bill will cause enormous emotional stress, and loss of income and wasted resources on parents, family and friends as they search for their missing children.
Today, if a runaway youth enters a youth shelter without parental permission, the shelter is required to report the child’s location, unless there’s a compelling reason not to. In that case, the shelter must notify the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
“Compelling reasons” include, but are not limited to, circumstances that indicate that notifying a parent or legal guardian will subject a minor to abuse or neglect. This bill would add gender-affirming treatment and reproductive health care services as compelling reasons not to notify a parent.
In other words, this bill treats parents who disagree with abortion and “gender affirming” treatment as though they were child abusers. All Washington parents should be outraged.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled multiple times that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment secures the rights this bill seeks to eliminate. The state has no right to separate children from loving parents.
House Republicans offered 12 amendments, including an amendment that would have required youth shelters to notify DCYF so the department could connect kids and their parents with appropriate counseling services. The majority party only accepted one of the 12 Republican amendments: Amendment 742, which requires the Office of Homeless Youth to gather data on the number of unsheltered homeless youths under age 18.
SB 5599, which was amended in the House, now heads to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
Update on police pursuit
Just after midnight on Tuesday, the House passed Senate Bill 5352, which would allow police to engage in vehicular pursuits of criminal suspects on a very limited basis.
Police reforms approved by the majority party in 2021 requires a higher threshold for when officers carry out a pursuit. Rather than “reasonable suspicion” they need “probable cause.” Since that change, there has been a surge in stolen vehicles, shoplifting, property crime, speeding, and fleeing from police.
This bill would lower the “probable cause” standard, but only in specific instances. Police could only pursue individuals suspected of a violent crime, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, driving while under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.
Rep. Schmidt and I voted yes but felt the bill did not go far enough to restore public safety. We contacted Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels. Based on our conversations and their input we felt we needed to move Senate Bill 5342 forward, rather than run the risk of adjourning the session without any progress on the vehicle pursuit issue.
We had hoped for more, but at least we finally moved this disastrous policy back in the right direction. That said, the conversation must continue.
Our law enforcement, local governments, communities, and neighborhoods deserve more. We are concerned we’ll continue to see an increase in crime and vehicle pursuits and when we return to Olympia next year, we will still need a more comprehensive solution.
Anti-gun industry bill
On Monday, the House voted 57-41 to pass Senate Bill 5078, which would hold gun manufacturers legally responsible for how individuals misuse their products. This egregiously bad bill could empower the attorney general to shut down gun retailers in Washington state. No other industry has this kind of liability, and I am positive there will be a legal challenge.
Every Republican voted no on this bill. It was amended in committee, and so it must go to the Senate for a concurrence vote. If the Senate votes to concur, the bill will head to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Washington’s housing crisis
It’s no secret that Washington state has a serious housing crisis. In fact, Washington has the fewest number of housing units per household of any state in the country. The lack of affordable housing is also a top barrier to business growth.
Unfortunately, the majority party passed Senate Bill 5452 this year, which will exacerbate that crisis by enacting additional impact fees on housing developments to build bike lanes. The bill passed 57-40 and is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.
We need to get back to basics. Housing prices are set by supply and demand. We need to roll back burdensome regulations, reduce the tax burden, and allow for more construction of housing.
How you can get involved
- My legislative website | Find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
- TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
- State agencies | List of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
- Participating in the Process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process
Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. I encourage you to provide feedback and get involved. I am here to serve you and everyone in the 4th Legislative District.
It’s an honor to serve you.