A busy summer

2021 interim • August 27, 2021

Washington State House Republicans

Dear Friend:

It has been a busy summer and a lot has happened since my last email update. Let's get into some of the issues and, as always, I welcome your feedback. 

Governor, Democrats reject calls for special session to fix police reform bills 

The media continues to do a great job reporting on the problems with the Democrats' police reform bills -- including real-life examples. Republicans have called for a special session to address these problems, but the governor and Democrats feel no sense of urgency to do anything. You can learn more at this web page, which is updated frequently. I encourage you to visit and share this platform. 

Opposition to vaccine mandates 

I am vaccinated. For months, I have encouraged others to do the same and talk to their doctors. I also understand that most people aren't turning to -- or influenced by -- politicians when it comes to this personal medical choice. 

It is critical for businesses that people are safe. We all know how to protect ourselves against this virus. That said, I will share with you what I told the governor in a letter last Friday: I am against his vaccine mandates, which are among the strictest in the nation. I think compulsion, and threatening to fire people who don't comply with orders, are counterproductive. 

We also know, through investigative reporting, the governor's office sought to make the religious exemption "as narrow as possible." Sen. John Braun and I sent a letter to the governor on Wednesday asking for answers to nine questions on this exemption. Rob McKenna said recently the governor's approach is "problematic under the First Amendment." 

There is also a concern these mandates could lead to greater labor shortages in already-stressed fields such as health care, public safety, and education. Stories featuring nurses, firefighters, and state employees who share these workforce concerns have appeared in the news recently. I expect we will see more as the deadline to get vaccinated grows closer. 

House Republicans have received hundreds of messages from constituents who are also against these mandates. We are doing our best to respond to these communications.  

Emergency powers reform

On June 30, Gov. Inslee took a victory lap around the state to celebrate the end to many of his COVID-19 restrictions. When asked by a reporter about emergency powers reform, the governor responded by saying, "I'm not sure you want to go back and reform when you won the Super Bowl. And we've won the Super Bowl of the COVID pandemic."

To compare our state's response, which has had a dramatic impact on people's lives and livelihoods, to a game is just poor messaging. It also misses the larger point from those of us who think the balance of power needs to be restored in Olympia. Sen. Braun expands more on the governor's flippant comments and emergency powers reform in this op-ed

What are House Republicans doing? 

House Republicans are being asked: What are you doing? The answer: As much as we can. For example, we have:

Emergency powers reform will continue to be a legislative priority for House Republicans in 2022. 

Tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan  

In closing, I don't often weigh in on international issues and national politics. But, like you, I am gripped by the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan -- including the loss of 13 U.S. troops in Kabul. The images are horrific and the continued uncertainty is unsettling to us all.

My heart aches for the families who have lost loved ones in the pursuit of advancing freedom and protecting American interests abroad. I pray for the safety of military personnel who continue to be in harm's way on this mission and others. And I thank the veterans who served admirably in Afghanistan over the last two decades. Your service and sacrifice matter. America appreciates you. 


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