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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The legislative session is here – almost a month old – and it's unlike any I've ever been involved with. Face-to-face meetings with constituents, other lawmakers, staff, and stakeholders has been replaced with ZOOM meetings, online forums, and Microsoft TEAMS meetings.

While most of my legislative colleagues are enduring this session from their districts, as the Deputy Minority Leader and as someone whose internet back home is less than reliable, I am in my office in Olympia. It's a little disheartening to see the “peoples' house” closed off to the people. It's not what I nor my House Republican colleagues wanted, but the majority party has been firm in sticking to this remote session while only allowing a few lawmakers to actually be in Olympia.

This doesn't mean that your involvement isn't needed. Quite the opposite. With every committee allowing remote testimony on every bill, now more than ever we need your voice to be heard loud and clear. Click the picture below or go here for more information on how to access the Legislature remotely.

They want to take my guns, raise my taxes, and let felons vote? Yup

It didn't take long for certain politicians in Olympia to make their priorities known. More legislation attacking gun owners, raising taxes and easing penalties for criminals. There's even legislation that would allow felons to vote immediately upon being released from prison. Read on…

House Bill 1164 – is this year's high capacity magazine ban. It would ban the sale, transfer and possession of rifle or pistol magazines of more than 10 rounds. This is one of the most nonsensical gun bills out there. As if criminals, already intent on, or in the act of, committing a crime will somehow adhere to this law? Nope. It will just place limits on how a father or mother can protect their families. We need your support on this one, folks. We can't fight this alone. The majority party in Olympia has taken a huge swing to the left. Nothing is off limits as they seem hell bent on governing the entire state like they do Seattle.

House Bill 1229 – is this year's “assault weapons” ban. Never mind that this rifle platform is the most popular in the nation for hunting, target shooting, rifle clubs, and three-gun competitions. Banning a weapon because of how it looks and because of certain metal dangly parts here and there is again, nonsensical.

House Bill 1283 – this bill is an interesting one. It could, in a way, ban open carry in our state. It prohibits “acting with three or more persons and openly carrying or displaying a weapon in a manner in which a reasonable person would feel threatened.” But who defines reasonable? There are a whole lot of folks out there – some right here in Olympia – that don't seem very reasonable to me. And threatened? Just seeing that black piece of metal and plastic could cause fragile constitutions to shake. With these vague definitions it just seems to be a way of banning open carry in our state.

Let's attack law-abiding gun owners, but reduce sentences for criminals who commit crimes with guns…wait, what?

House Bill 1169 would remove the requirement that multiple firearm or deadly weapon enhancements must be served consecutively. In effect, this would reduce the sentences for violent criminals – felons – who commit crimes with firearms.

Speaking of felons, House Bill 1078 would allow felons the right to vote immediately after leaving prison, rather than petitioning to have that right restored, as is current law. Remember, early on in the COVID fight, Gov. Inslee had over 1,100 prisoners released from prison early. They didn't serve their full sentences. If this bill passes, they would all be able to vote IMMEDIATELY. No word on whether or not we'll see droves of inmates released, oh, I don't know, right about September or October during election years!

The only sure thing in life: death and taxes

House Democrats released their transportation budget last week that includes a two-year phased in 18 cent gas tax increase. But this time, their gas tax increase would be tied to the consumer price index (CPI) which means it will continue to go up in perpetuity with no public input or legislative oversight. It also includes a carbon tax on industry that will be passed on to consumers. Together, they would raise the price per gallon of gas by at least $1. And that's not including the governor's low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) that has already passed through committee.

Their transportation plan also includes a 50% increase in license tab fees, and increases to personal trailer fees, trip permit fees, quick title fees, RV fees, and car rental fees.

In addition, we're seeing a proposed capital gain income tax, a cap and trade scheme, and a possible three-dollar-a-month increase on health insurance premiums expected to cost citizens millions of dollars.

I don't think now is the time to raise taxes on struggling families who are dealing with reduced family incomes and severe job losses. I'll fight against these tax and fee increases with everything I have – that's a fact! But we do need your help. Again, I ask that you get involved in this remote session. Sign up to testify, contact legislators from the West side of the state, write letters, let your voice be heard.

Reopening Washington…we need a county-by-county approach…

I have been advocating – since last spring – for a local approach to reopening our economy. I trust my local health departments and locally-elected county officials to do the right thing for health and safety far more than I do Gov. Inslee sitting in Olympia making decrees for us in northeast Washington. Case in point – what's wrong with the picture below?

In the governor's “Healthy Washington Plan,” he just recently made the announcement that regions only have to have three of the four criteria met before partially reopening. Great. But to tie rural areas that aren't seeing the same numbers as more urban areas is unjust. I'm supporting legislation that would immediately move all regions to Phase 2, which would allow limited participation in indoor dining and fitness facilities.

Hang in there, folks! My office is here to help. Let us know if you need some assistance wading through some state bureaucracy. I know many of you are dealing with Employment Security Department issues. For that, I am truly frustrated and sorry. We have done everything within our power to speed things along and make things right. Maybe now that the head of that agency has been “promoted” to the Biden Administration, we'll finally see some action. Fingers crossed.

Sincerely,


Joel Kretz

State Representative Joel Kretz, 7th Legislative District
RepresentativeJoelKretz.com
335A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
joel.kretz@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7988 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000