Six days left in the legislative session

2020 legislative session • March 6, 2020 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:    

It has been a long and sometimes contentious week in the House, including some late nights. I explain what happened over the last few days, including a six-hour floor debate on a comprehensive sexual health education bill, in this video from today. I hope you can watch it.

Supplemental budgets

While some big policy pieces are still in play (see below), the most important responsibility of state lawmakers in the last six days of the legislative session is to pass three supplemental budgets.

The transportation and capital budgets appear to be on bipartisan tracks -- like last year. Our leads on these respective issues, Rep. Andrew Barkis and Rep. Richard DeBolt, are great negotiators. I look forward to the final proposals reaching the House floor soon. 

$2.4 billion budget surplus 

The operating budget looks like it is on a different track -- a more partisan one. House and Senate Democrats are negotiating behind closed doors to reconcile their proposals. Due to record tax collections and fewer people using state services, budget writers have a $2.4 billion surplus.

In this op-ed in The Seattle Times, I challenge the majority to not spend all of the surplus and pass a fiscally responsible budget that saves for the inevitable rainy day. The Legislature should not repeat the mistake of 2007 when Democrats spent nearly all of a $2.2 billion surplus and set our state up for devastating cuts in the following years. 

Novel coronavirus

Our state is on the front line of the novel coronavirus problem. The Legislature took action this week by passing a $100 million spending package to assist state and local public health organizations. State lawmakers and staff also received briefings from the Department of Health. 

Time will tell how far reaching and severe this outbreak will be. What is more certain is that it will have an economic impact on our state -- short-term and perhaps long-term. And we must be prepared.  

This website is a great resource for information on this evolving issue. There is also a state hotline: 1-800-525-0127 (press #). 


Every even-numbered year, a few colleagues announce their intentions to not seek re-election. Two very important people to me made such announcements this week. And I just can't imagine the Legislature without them. 

Rep. Norma Smith of the 10th District announced Wednesday she will not seek re-election. Norma has been a leader on so many critical issues over the years -- from behavioral and mental health, to regulatory reform to environmental stewardship. She will leave a legacy of passion and accomplishments. You can learn more about her below.  

My seatmate, Sen. Randi Becker, also announced her retirement yesterday. Randi is a close friend and an incredibly effective state lawmaker. She loves our communities and it shows in her advocacy for them. I will miss her. 

The Ledger 

Your best source of legislative news continues to be The Ledger. We update it daily. Please consider using and sharing the platform. 

House floor action will continue tomorrow beginning at 9:00 a.m. Stay tuned.  


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912

High-profile bills

Here are some high-profile bills that have made headlines over the last few weeks.  

New authority to the Department of Ecology to create a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system.

  • House Bill 2957 passed the House Appropriations Committee; has yet to come to the House floor. 

Death penalty repeal. 

  • Senate Bill 5339 passed the Senate 28-18; has yet to come to the House floor.  

Creation of the Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention within the Department of Commerce. 

  • Senate Bill 6288 passed the Senate 25-23; passed the House 53-44. All House Republicans voted "no." The Senate will consider changes made by the House. 

Facial recognition services. 

  • Senate Bill 6280 passed the Senate 30-18; passed the House 63-33. The Senate will consider changes made by the House. 

Online data privacy. 

  • Senate Bill 6281 passed the Senate 46-1; passed the House 56-41. The Senate will consider changes made by the House. 
Senate Bill 5395

Democrats pass controversial comprehensive sex ed bill

Ignoring thousands of communications and concerns from parents across the state, House Democrats passed controversial comprehensive sexual health education legislation late Wednesday. No Republican voted for the bill in the House or Senate.

We argued in committee -- and for six hours on the House floor -- that this set of standards is too much, too soon for kids. We also said it ignores the concerns of parents and takes away local control from school districts. 

Since Senate Bill 5395 was amended in the House, it now goes back to the Senate for consideration. 


Low-carbon fuel standard

Growing opposition to the low-carbon fuel standard

Truckers from across the state came to the Capitol on Monday to express their opposition to the regressive low-carbon fuel standard being push by Gov. Inslee and House Democrats. House Bill 1110 passed the House on January 29, despite bipartisan opposition. It is now being considered in the Senate. 

Learn more: 

Rep. Andrew Barkis

Rep. Andrew Barkis on Inside Olympia

Rep. Andrew Barkis and Rep. Jake Fey joined Austin Jenkins of TVW’s Inside Olympia to discuss the supplemental transportation budget, $30 car tabs and other key transportation issues. Watch here

Learn more: 

Rep. Norma Smith

Rep. Norma Smith will not seek re-election

Rep. Norma Smith requested a point of personal privilege on the House floor Wednesday to announce she will not seek re-election in November. However, she will complete her full two-year term.   

The 10th District lawmaker was appointed to her seat in January 2008 and won the general election later that year. Prior to serving in the Washington State House of Representatives, Smith served on the South Whidbey School Board and was Special Assistant to U.S. Congressman Jack Metcalf. Learn more about her past and future in this news release

Republican media avail

Republican media avail

From left to right, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, Rep. Michelle Caldier and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox answer questions from the media on Monday morning. Watch the news conference here

It's Your Home. Expect More.


Past editions of The Current
Member email updates
The Capitol Buzz

 Bill information

Senate Republicans

Secretary of State
State Treasurer
All state agencies 

The Washington State Ledger