Three storylines from Olympia

2021 legislative session • February 5, 2021

Washington State House Republicans

Dear Friend:

There were three storylines from Olympia this week. First, the State Auditor announced a massive data breach, including personal information from about 1.6 million unemployment claims made last year. You can learn more about this breach and ways to protect yourself by visiting this website.

Imagine losing your job because of shutdown orders, having your unemployment benefits delayed because of problems at the Employment Security Department (ESD), and learning that your personal information may have been compromised. This is now a reality for many. It's unfair and unacceptable. 

My colleague Rep. Matt Boehnke, who is a cybersecurity expert, was all over the news this week. He said it best in this Q-13 TV interview: "We need to stop the failure now with true leadership." 

COVID-19 relief legislation

The second storyline was the passage of COVID-19 relief legislation -- House Bill 1368. Like the unemployment insurance bill from last Friday, the relief legislation will do some good things. But both measures don't do enough to help struggling families and businesses. The Legislature needed to take earlier, bolder steps, but the majority party opted for limited, wait-until-later approaches. 

House Republicans offered six amendments to the relief legislation, but only one was accepted by the majority party. The five rejected amendments would have taken bold steps to safely reopen schools, assist students, provide rental and utility assistance, ease burdens on working families, help child care providers, and support employers. You can watch some of our debate highlights in this video. We also discussed a few of these solutions at our media availability on Tuesday. 

Growing bipartisan opposition to governor's reopening plan 

Finally, it is becoming clear the governor is losing support for his controversial reopening plan. Republicans have been saying for a while that it is time to safely reopen the state -- including businesses and schools. In addition to the amendments noted above, Republicans have put forward legislation to accomplish this goal. 

It is good to see Democrats, both in the Legislature and local government, awaken to the reality and devastation that extended shutdown orders have had on so many families, students, and communities. I appreciate them stepping forward with their concerns. Here are stories that reflect the growing bipartisan opposition to the governor's reopening plan: 

House Republican opinion pieces 

Our members generate an immense amount of content each week, including news releases, email updates, radio appearances, and videos. Here are some recent op-eds you might find interesting: 

Looking ahead

Next week, I will be talking more about state government accountability -- including the failures at ESD. Suzi LeVine's appointment to the Biden administration and new allegations from a whistleblower at the state agency have people really upset. And rightfully so. 

Have a safe Super Bowl weekend. 


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