Why Democrats’ police reform bills have made communities less safe

2021 interim • July 30, 2021

Washington State House Republicans

Dear Friend:

Over the last month, it has become clear that controversial police reform bills passed by Democrats this year will have serious consequences for public safety. House Republicans warned months ago that House Bill 1310 and House Bill 1054 would make communities less safe. And that's exactly what's happening. 

Law enforcement, other first responders, and local elected officials are explaining what this new legislation -- which went into effect on July 25 -- will mean for their communities. And the media is all over the story.

From Q-13 TV yesterday: "Witnesses said the victim was shot and killed in a Puyallup parking lot after 10:00 p.m. in a store parking lot in the 16900 block of Meridian E. Deputies found the victim and dispatched a K9 unit to track the suspect, but because of the state's new policing laws they had to pull the dog and deputy back." 

One of the most powerful pieces comes from Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang who, in this op-ed, said: "These are just a couple of endless examples of the unintended consequences of rushing to create the new use of force law that will change the way police respond to crime, community caretaking functions such as welfare checks, and mental health issues." 

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board weighed in and concluded: "Frankly, the present vague wording of the bills helps no one. Our people and our officers deserve better than this." 

Fixing the problems 

I released a statement with Sen. John Braun calling on Democrats and the governor to fix the problems created by their bills. Part of our statement appeared in this Everett Herald story. This piece does a great job of explaining how House Bill 1310 negatively impacts the work of crisis responders and those facing mental health challenges. Rep. Dan Griffey, a fire service lieutenant/EMT with Central Mason, also shared how this legislation affects his profession in this compelling statement

House Republicans and staff are working on real solutions for these problems, like we did in the 2021 legislative session. This past work included amendments to the controversial legislation mentioned above and stand-alone bills that would have addressed the state Supreme Court's Blake decision

New web page

With so many stories, social media posts, and news releases appearing across the state, my staff began compiling links. They brought all of this information together and created this comprehensive web page: Why Democrats’ police reform bills have made communities less safe. I encourage you to visit and share the platform. We will continue to update it. 

A new payroll tax to fund a new state program

Another important issue that is sure to get more attention is the new payroll tax passed by Democrats that will fund the new state Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program. It has been branded the WA Cares Fund. This is one of many new tax increases passed by Democrats the last three years.

House Republicans are receiving inquiries on this issue. We created this new web page, which includes frequently asked questions, to provide you the facts. This recent story from the Associated Press also explains the decisions facing many Washingtonians. 

Not one House Republican voted for this legislation. While many people will be able to afford this new payroll tax, we understand that others will struggle with this new expense -- whether it be through the new payroll tax or the cost of private long-term care insurance. And House Republicans know how cumbersome it will be to apply for, secure, and attest to having a private plan. We believe it should be your personal choice if you want this type of insurance, not mandated by the state. 

Honoring Sergeant Jeremy Brown

I would like to close by offering my condolences to the family of Sergeant Jeremy Brown. Sergeant Brown of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was killed on the evening of July 23 in Vancouver. He died protecting the community he loved. 

Let us never forget that the men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to protect our families and communities. They are dedicated and courageous professionals. And we owe them all a debt of gratitude.    


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