Emergency powers reform

2021 legislative session • April 16, 2021

Washington State House Republicans

Dear Friend:

Just nine days remain in the legislative session. The House spent the week working through the concurrence calendar. This process includes resolving differences between the House and Senate on legislation that has passed both chambers. It requires a lot of work behind the scenes and caucus discussions, but bills end up moving quickly on the House floor. We will not be on the House floor this weekend. 

Emergency powers reform 

Earlier today, House Republicans -- led by Reps. Drew MacEwen and Drew Stokesbary -- made a motion on the floor to place House Concurrent Resolution 4402 on the Second Reading Calendar. This new resolution, if passed, would have allowed us to bring important emergency powers reform legislation to the floor for a full vote. Unfortunately, our motion was rejected on a party-line vote

House Bill 1557 would establish a greater role for the Legislature during a state of emergency. The measure would cause a state of emergency to expire after 60 days unless renewed by the Legislature. It would also allow the Legislature to terminate a state of emergency on its own authority. I discussed this issue at our media availability and on radio programs this week. 

Legislatures across our county are debating this issue. The system House Republicans are proposing is similar to what other states are already doing. We want to give a stronger voice to state lawmakers, and the people they represent, in uncertain times.

The governor's decision to move Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman counties back to Phase 2, with no input from state lawmakers who represent these counties, underscores the importance of emergency powers reform. House Republicans sent a letter to the governor yesterday asking him to reconsider his decision. 

Editorial boards support our position 

House Republicans have been talking about this issue since day one of the legislative session and made it one of our priorities. We appreciate the support we have received from editorial boards across our state. They understand their communities and have witnessed the voices of their readers excluded from the legislative arena. Here are some of the editorials: 

Updates on five issues

State budgets | Operating, transportation, capital 

  • Final state budgets are still being negotiated and will be released next week. We expect the transportation and capital budgets to have Republican input, but the operating budget will be a partisan process and outcome.  

Income tax on capital gains | Senate Bill 5096 

  • An amended version of Senate Bill 5096 passed out of the House Finance Committee  this morning. House Republicans oppose this measure because it is unnecessary, unpopular, unconstitutional, and a major step toward a state income tax. We will be ready for the debate when it reaches the House floor. 

Senate transportation tax package | Senate Bill 5481-5483

  • All three bills passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee this week. House Republicans oppose this package because it includes 33 new fees and taxes that would hurt struggling individuals, families and small businesses. It is not clear yet when these measures will advance to the Senate floor.  

Low-carbon fuel standard | House Bill 1091 

  • An amended version of House Bill 1091 came back over from the Senate, with demands -- outlined in a letter -- from a group of Senate Democrats. The differences amongst Democrats on this policy are featured in this story. House Republicans have opposed this regressive concept for years, as it would result in higher costs for gas, diesel and products, and create no new transportation revenue for our state. You can watch our House floor debate on this bill here.     

Cap and tax | Senate Bill 5126 

  • In addition to the low-carbon fuel standard, this is part of the governor's controversial climate change agenda. Both measures are reportedly tied to the passage of a transportation tax package. Senate Bill 5126 narrowly passed the Senate 25-24. An amended version of the bill is expected to pass out of the House Environment and Energy Committee this evening. We will also be ready to fight this measure on the House floor.  

Headlines from the week 


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