Will allow Dems to promote income tax, higher energy prices in session mostly off-limits to public
- COVID precautions force sharp restrictions on public access.
- Ericksen plan would have limited Legislature to COVID relief issues, budgets.
- Majority Democrats pushing sweeping agenda including income tax, proposal to increase cost of fuel
A masked Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, makes the case for his resolution on the Senate floor Monday.
OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats shot down a proposal from Sen. Doug Ericksen to keep the Legislature’s focus on COVID relief as the 2021 Legislative session opened Monday at the state Capitol in Olympia.
But Ericksen promises to keep fighting for the people who have been adversely impacted by COVID lockdowns, Ericksen says the Legislature ought to commit itself to addressing COVID and the economic crisis brought on by the state-ordered closures of thousands of businesses statewide. Instead, Democratic leaders see the session as a chance to pass a sweeping agenda of taxes, legislation designed to increase energy prices and other controversial measures.
“We can debate the income tax anytime,” Ericksen said. “We shouldn’t do it when the public can’t be here to fully weigh in. At a time when we need to bring the state together, pushing an income tax, higher energy prices and possibly defunding the police will only divide us further. Issues like these should not be pushed through under the cloak of COVID darkness.”
Ericksen’s proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 8400, would have convened an immediate 30-day emergency session on issues related to COVID and economic recovery. The measure was rejected during the opening-day debate on Senate rules, by a caucus-line vote of 28-19. All members of the Senate Republican Caucus voted in favor.
Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID have changed the way Olympia does business this session. Most members will participate in floor sessions from their offices, and there will be little opportunity for interaction with the public.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have announced an agenda that would generate substantial public opposition during ordinary times. Washington voters have rejected an income tax ten straight times. A proposal to increase gas prices by imposing low carbon fuel standards is very similar to carbon taxes Washington voters have rejected twice.
“We need to put our attention where it belongs,” Ericksen said. “We need to help the thousands of families who are struggling because of the governor’s lockdown orders. We need to provide relief from the crushing unemployment taxes that are about to hit small businesses across the state.
“I’m committed to dealing with the crisis at hand, and I hope my colleagues will see the matter with the same clarity. We can argue about these other issues some other time. If we’re going to restore people’s faith in government, we need to start here.”