2021 legislative session: Police reform, taxes and parental rights



Dear Neighbor,

As we pass the home stretch of the 2021 legislative session, I wanted to thank you for the honor of representing you in the Washington State Senate. 2020 was an extremely difficult year for all of us and the fact that you have entrusted me to be your voice in Olympia during these trying times is greatly appreciated.

This year, I serve on the following committees:

  • Early Learning & K-12 Education
  • Law and Justice
  • Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation

Today I want to share an update on some of the bills moving through the legislature this session.

Damaging Anti-Policing Legislation

The amount of anti-policing legislation under the guise of accountability measures this year is truly baffling -- especially when we see a double digit increases in violent crime in many cities throughout the country. If passed, many of these bills will detrimentally impact public safety around our state and in our communities. Washington state already has the fewest police officers per capita in the United States, and many of these bills would further reduce numbers of officers and prevent the hiring of qualified new officers.

One bad law enforcement bill making its way through the legislature this year is Senate Bill 5051, which modifies the priorities and composition of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). This bill expands the background investigation requirements for persons applying to be a peace officer, reserve officer, and corrections officer positions. It also removes confidentiality of complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions for certified officers and requires information be maintained on a publicly searchable database.

This creates serious due process concerns for our officers. The CJTC could suspend an officer's certification from an anonymous complaint or video. The decertification process needs to remain fair and ensure that cause for suspension actually exists before an officer is removed from service. This bill could open the floodgates for false reporting and defamation cases that would bog down our complaint investigation processes.

In the justice system, you are considered innocent until proven guilty, and this legislation would turn that idea on its head by making an office guilty until proven innocent. Who would want to be a part of law enforcement in this light? This will certainly cause a decrease of interest in the pursuit of law enforcement as a career option and only worsen a growing problem of officers leaving the force and leaving our communities at higher risk of criminal activity.

Additionally, House Bill 1054, also seeks to hinder our law enforcement officers. This legislation Prohibits law enforcement agencies from acquiring or using certain types of tactical equipment and establishes restrictions on the use of tear gas. It also prevents an officer from seeking, and a court from issuing, a search or arrest warrant granting an express exception to the "knock and announce" rule.

Our state should not disarm the our police. This legislation would take away the tools police officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force. Police officers are already held to a very high standard. Our state needs to focus on real solutions that will bridge the gap of the already-fragile relationship between police officers and the communities they serve, not widen it.

I strongly opposed these bills and voted against them. I will always serve to protect our officers’ ability to do the very difficult job of enforcing the law and protecting our communities.



Nightmare of Unneeded New Taxes

This year, many new tax proposals have been introduced to take even more money out of the pockets of those that need the most help.

We are hit with a dizzying list of taxes in Washington and the proposed legislation would add more to our tax burden. The proposed new taxes by Democrats are absolutely tone deaf as we try to negotiate the personal budget impacts of our state’s COVID-19 response. On top of all the new proposed taxes, we are seeing revenues far ahead of what we had expected this year. We are looking at nearly $3.3 billion over previous projections for the next two years and $5.2 billion over the four-year outlook. Our state has enough money - we do not need to increase taxes!

The capital gains tax and the plethora of carbon fuel taxes are particularly troubling.

Capital Gains Income tax is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

This year, at the request of Governor Inslee, Senate Bill 5096 would impose a 7% tax on the selling of long-term capital assets, or on receiving Washington capital gains beginning January 1, 2022. This bill passed out of the Senate on a narrow margin of 25-24 after nearly 4 hours of debate and is now being considered in the House of Representatives. I voted against it.

Proponents for this bill claim it is not an income tax, but every other state that implements a capital gains tax calls it an income tax, because that is exactly what it is. Washington state has very particular rules in our constitution about income taxes; one being, that income taxes are levied equally to all citizens. This a clear violation of this constitutional requirement.

The citizens of Washington have voted down an income tax 10 times in the last 80 years, and this bill is merely a foot in the door for future implementation of other income taxes.

More taxes, particularly when our citizens and businesses are struggling to stay afloat financially is not the answer; we must focus on funding our priorities – such as providing for our most vulnerable and other essential services – while also reducing state spending, not putting our hand out asking for more, more, more.

Washington climate tax – carbon fuel taxes

Senate Bill 5126 is a cap-and-trade tax that would require industry and utilities to pay for carbon-reduction programs by paying for carbon credits based on their estimated carbon output.

Businesses do not simply eat costs that affect their bottom line. It is guaranteed that the cost will be passed on to the consumer. That is simple business economics. The proposed legislation to drive out carbon energies in our energy and transportation sectors will drive up costs of everything in our economy, because it increases the cost fuels to provide electricity and move goods throughout our state. Not to mention it directly effects your bottom line by making it more expensive to get to work as gas prices rise. It is estimated that this will cost between 18 and 30 cents at the pump. Additionally, It will also raise prices on everything you buy including groceries and other essentials. This plan will take more money out of our pockets for an environmental plan that won’t work.

Finally, Washington state produces about 2 tenths of a percent in global emissions, we are already doing our part for a clean and healthy environment. See the chart below for more information. 

Environment chart

Enacting this tax will result in lost jobs -- employers looking to come to Washington will choose to go elsewhere because costs are so high. This tax is completely unnecessary and will only hurt the people of this state.


Felon voting rights shouldn’t automatically be restored

Another horrible and very bad bill, House Bill 1078, has passed through the legislature and is now making its way to the governor’s desk. This bill would restore voting rights for incarcerated individuals as soon as their confinement in a state Department of Corrections facility has ended.

The individuals we are talking about include sexual predators, child traffickers, and other previously violent criminals being released back into our communities on probation. Then immediately giving them certain constitutional rights back because they aren’t currently in a walled prison. They are still in community custody, often with ankle monitors, which means they still have time on the books.

While I may be in favor of certain crimes fitting of reinstatement of the right to vote before full restitution, I do not think the public would agree that sexual predators or child traffickers should receive a reprieve before they have fully repaid their legal obligations. This is absolutely unjust. I adamantly oppose this bill and voted against it.




Protecting the Next Generation

Some lawmakers in Olympia have sought and passed legislation infringing on your parental rights. In a time that we are seeing a rise in child trafficking -- 200% in the last year -- and the sexualization of our children earlier and earlier, our state is doing little to ensure parents that they will be able to continue protecting their own children from nefarious outside influences.

Here are a few things you need to know:

Informed consent

Senate Bill 5185 was introduced this year and would allow adolescents who are of the “age of consent” to make health care decisions without notification of parents or guardians. The current age of consent is 13 for mental health treatment, 14 for STD testing, and any age for birth control, abortion, or prenatal care. This bill keeps parents in the dark and takes away their ability to be a part of the health care decision making process with their children.

Toxic Agenda-Driven Sex Ed

You may remember that last year, the legislature passed a bill mandating sex education beginning at the kindergarten level. This is not about the birds and the bees, it’s about usurping parental rights and stealing children’s innocence earlier and earlier. Proponents assured parents the curricula will be age appropriate, but this misses the fundamental point. Who will decide what is age appropriate? Their opinion, surely not parents.

I don’t believe that most parents in the second legislative district want their five-year-old to receive sex education dictated by Olympia and being taught to them by someone they may not philosophically align with. This comprehensive sex education curriculum requirement is not needed. We do not need to create safe spaces for students to share sensitive information with an adult other than their parents. There are certainly extenuating circumstances where this is needed, but it is not true for most kids. Please know that you -- the parent -- can opt your child out of most of these curricula. It is your choice!

So much of the anti-parental rights legislation that we see introduced in Olympia is merely a knee-jerk reaction to what the majority party sees as pressing issues, that are simply not a fair reflection of reality. Our personal and parental rights need to always be protected.

I will NEVER vote to cede your personal or parental rights to the state without due process.


Contact my office

As we continue working remotely this year, please remember that your participation in the legislative process is more important than ever to ensure that you stay updated on what’s happening this session. If there is anything I can do to help you participate, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I can be reached by phone at 1-800-562-6000 and by email at Jim.McCune@leg.wa.gov. It is an honor to serve as your voice in Olympia,

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