Controversy rages on after disappointing session

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Controversy rages on after disappointing session 

Sharon Brown

Dear Friends,

The mostly virtual, 105-day legislative session ended on time, which may be the best thing we can say about an odd session that saw the public kept out of the process and one-party rule force through a far-left agenda. Even two months later, controversies that came up during the disappointing session continue to rage on.

The majority Democrats made the most of their power:

  • They used the COVID-19 crisis to pass a huge, unnecessarily bloated budget that is 54% larger than the state operating budget of just six years ago” (That’s not counting the nearly $14 billion more in federal relief money);
  • They passed an unconstitutional income tax on capital gains and kept the people from running a referendum on it by including a stealth emergency clause;
  • They cracked down on cops, while easing up on drug users and giving ex-felons the right to vote before completing their victim restitution and court obligations;
  • They pushed a host of liberal cultural legislation tied to critical race theory; and
  • They hiked gas, heating and food prices on the poor and middle class though adoption of a regressive cap-and-tax scheme and high cost fuel standard.

You can read more about these bills and more below. 

Maybe most egregious of all, the majority failed to hold the executive branch accountable to the people, allowing the governor to continue to rule through unchecked, emergency executive powers. 

Much of these poor decisions are still causing controversy today. There have been two separate lawsuits filed against the unconstitutional income tax Democrats passed. And even Democrats and traditional allies like the press and Tribes have been critical of Gov. Inslee's arbitrary reopening and closing of Washington's businesses, and illegal partial vetoes of negotiated legislation. 

As tough as this session was, there were also a number of wins. You can read about those below as well. 

As always, if there is anything I can do for you, please write, call or send me an e-mail.

It’s an honor to serve as your voice in the state Senate.


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Sharon Brown
State Senator
8th District

Executive Watch:

Gov. Inslee’s pair of partial vetoes out of line

By the Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

When both sides of the aisle are angry over the same thing, it’s clear that the issue in question needs to be addressed.

Due to Gov. Jay Inslee’s partial vetoes on subsections in a pair of carbon-cutting bills, many legislators across the spectrum are calling the governor’s actions unconstitutional and calling the courts to challenge the vetoes.

… The governor’s partial vetoes not only breaks apart the hard-won bipartisan teamwork, but nullifies provisions made to balance out the “takes” of the two bills with some “gives” in the transportation package.                         

Click here to read more.

Funding for youth violence tip line included in final budget


This year the Senate unanimously approved my bill to implement the Youth Empowered to Speak-up (YES) program statewide. Second Substitute Senate Bill 5327 would create a tip-line mobile app to allow students to confidentially report potential self-harm or criminal activities directed at schools, students or school employees.

Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the House of Representatives, where it passed out of the Committee on Children, Youth & Families, but failed to reach the floor for a full up or down vote of the House. 

With some hard work, however, I was able to get funding included for the program in the state budget. It is a big win for the families of our state and one of the few highlights in an otherwise needlessly costly operating budget. 

Leadership Report:

Scoring some hard-earned wins during a tough session

Sen. Brown

Despite being heavily outnumbered, we were able to score a few major wins in what was otherwise a very difficult session.

For one, we were able to push the governor towards reopening businesses sooner. I sponsored a reopening bill that prompted the governor to allow counties to reopen faster than he otherwise would have, despite language from the governor initially diminishing my concerns about the devastating effects of continued shutdowns.

Likewise, our efforts to get kids safely back into school, in accordance with supporting science, resulted in an about-face: the governor stopped denying he had the power to get schools open, and began exercising this power, despite resistance from the teachers’ union and some legislators.

While the new state budget is a colossal beast that spends way too much and raises taxes, I worked with Republican budget lead Sen. Lynda Wilson to offer an alternative budget that would invest in forest health, people with developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and unemployment-insurance relief (SB 5451) without raising taxes. While our no-new-tax-increase approach was rejected, many of our priorities were adopted into the final budget, resulting in $500 million in unemployment insurance relief for small businesses. The alternative budget also reduced state property taxes.

The majority came to Olympia with a host of gun-control measures that targeted law abiding gunowners. Most of these anti-Second Amendment bills never even made it out of committee, including their priority bill to ban high-capacity magazines.

Major wins for Tri-Cities in final approved capital budget

3 rivers

I am happy to report that our work to get significant funding for local colleges, historical projects and other key community improvements paid off with more than $8 million in funding for 8th District projects included in the final 2021-23 capital budget.

These are vital projects for our community. We knew we had a mental- and behavioral-health crisis even before the pandemic, but those issues have only been exacerbated by the isolation of the shutdown and closure of schools.

This budget, which provides more than $428 million toward behavioral-health services statewide, makes critical, specific investments here in the Tri-Cities.

Key 8th District projects funded in the capital budget include:

  • $2.75 million for the Three Rivers Behavioral Health Recovery Center (Kennewick);
  • $1.03 million for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic (Kennewick);
  • $2 million for the Columbia River water supply development program (West Richland/Pasco);
  • $900,000 for a replacement of the Hospice House (Richland);
  • $500,000 in Washington Wildlife Recreation grant for the FP Hoch Family Farm Agricultural Easement; and,
  • $46,000 for the Flag Plaza Redevelopment (Kennewick).

While it is technically not in the district, we were also able to secure $1 million in funding for the Esther’s House Project, which will serve people in need from throughout the Tri-Cities region.

Tribal Leaders, Legislators Slam Inslee Over Vetoes

By Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times 

Franks Landing

Willie Frank III talks to Gov. Jay Inslee about his father Billy Frank Jr. and the Nisqually River behind the Wa-He-Lute Indian School earlier this year at Frank’s Landing. JARED WENZELBURGER / JARED@CHRONLINE.COM

In an unusually harsh public scolding, Washington tribal leaders unloaded on Gov. Jay Inslee for his veto this week of a section of a carbon-cap bill that required improved consultation with tribes about climate investments made under the act.

It started right at the top, with Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents 500 tribes across the country.

"This week, Jay Inslee committed the most egregious and shameless betrayal of a deal I have ever witnessed from a politician of any party, at any level," Sharp said.

"After using and exploiting Tribal Nation's political capital to pass his climate bill, Jay Inslee made the cowardly decision on the day of the bill's signing to ambush Tribal leaders by suddenly vetoing all Tribal consultation requirements…

"The only thing I will ever agree with Donald Trump about is that Jay Inslee is a snake," Sharp concluded.

Click here to read the full story.

In The News:

Breaking IS News

Industrial Symbiosis just became law in Washington State!

Now that SB 5345 is a law in Washington State, the Pacific Northwest is the national leader in industrial symbiosis (IS), a ground-breaking, triple-bottom-line approach to economic development, where one industry’s waste – energy, water, or materials – becomes another industry’s resource.

The concept of IS was born in Kalundborg, Denmark and evolved over three decades into a network of over a dozen major facilities capturing and reusing waste resources.

Today, this city of only 17,000 residents generates $28 million in annual economic value, saves nearly a billion gallons of water annually, and cuts climate pollution by over 600,000 tons a year. 

SB 5345’s prime sponsor, Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, and her bi-partisan colleagues were inspired by Denmark's example and have worked across party lines, supported by CSI, to pass this new law.

The Cities of Pasco and Spokane were among the bill’s supporters and are actively exploring IS possibilities now with CSI.

Click here to read the full report.

Second lawsuit filed challenging capital gains income tax

By Shawna De La Rosa, Puget Sound Business Journal 


The lawsuit was filed by former Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The Opportunity for All Coalition filed a lawsuit on Thursday in an attempt to overturn the state’s new capital gains tax law, known as ESSB 5096. The new law imposes a 7% tax on long-term capital gains, including on the sale of real estate, stocks, bonds and other assets in excess of $250,000.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are farmers, business owners, and the Washington State Farm Bureau.

The lawsuit was filed by former Attorney General Rob McKenna, who argues the new law taxes income, which is unconstitutional in the state. It was filed in Douglas County Superior Court and is the second lawsuit to be filed against the new law.

Click here to read the full article.

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PLEASE NOTE: Any email or documents you provide to this office may be subject to disclosure under RCW 42.56. If you would prefer to communicate by phone, please contact Sen. Brown's office at (360) 786-7614.

June 16, 2021

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