NEWSLETTER: Survey results: Your legislative priorities

Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you to everyone who took my short survey ranking your legislative priorities. The graphic above represents the results. Read further to learn more about legislative efforts to address those priorities.

It can be hard to get even the best bills passed when you are in the minority, but Republicans like me will continue to push against the bad ideas, and not just because they were sponsored by Democrats. There were many Democrat bills that had full Republican support.

We push against bad ideas because people matter more than politics. And because we listen to the people and hear loud and clear that you deserve better.


John Braun


Securing a safer Washington


Not surprisingly, public safety concerns are top on your priority list, including reducing crime and hiring more law-enforcement officers. Washington remains the worst in the nation for the number of law enforcement officers per capita. Many new policies were passed in an effort to help hire and train new officers.

However, one big obstacle remains — Democrat policies restrict the ability of law enforcement to arrest and detain criminals and hamper the ability of prosecutors to pursue a conviction and fair sentencing. These policies are demoralizing and make law enforcement feel as if their efforts are sometimes wasted. They also increase negative feelings toward police because the people often think the police or prosecutors are choosing to do nothing.

This has to change. The people of Washington deserve to feel that the state cares more about their safety.



I’m pleased to report that it’s also important to you that the Legislature prioritize the rights of victims over the rights of criminals. Majority Democrats’ policies have the opposite effect. We have seen policies enacted to reduce sentencing, decriminalize hard drugs, and allow inmates sentenced to life in prison without parole to petition for release after serving 25 years. Those sentenced to life in prison are the worst of the worst, but Democrats want to give them a chance to victimize someone again after the state has said they are too dangerous to be free in society.

This past session, we saw one House Democrat sponsor a bill to give felons the ability to vote, run for public office and serve on jury duty. The sponsor of the bill admitted in committee testimony that this would apply to Gary Ridgway, better known as the Green River Killer. This same legislator, in 2023, proposed shorter prison terms for drive-by shooters.

The Democrats have also stood in the way of Republican legislation to protect victims. Sen. Lynda Wilson’s bill to make exposing a child to fentanyl a felony passed in the Senate but was killed by the chair of the House’s committee on Community Justice, Safety and Reentry. He claimed there were no votes in his committee to support the bill.

However, Democrats on that committee voted for other bills that clearly prioritize offenders:

  • HB 2178: Would let sex offenders off of community supervision.
  • HB 2065: Would retroactively resentence criminals who are serving a longer sentence due to crimes they committed as juveniles.
  • HB 1994: Would allow a court to dismiss misdemeanor and gross-misdemeanor charges if certain conditions are met; create barriers to full accountability and give defendants new ways to escape accountability if they have a clever attorney.
  • HB 1396: Would reduce sentences for certain criminals serving life without parole sentences, including those convicted of aggravated murder.
  • HB 1268: Would reduce time served for sentencing enhancements for violent offenders, firearms offenses, and gang members.
  • HB 2001: Would reduce prison sentences for violent offenders.



Fighting for an affordable Washington


I am not surprised that your top priority is to prevent new and higher taxes. The economy is hurting everyday people right now and increasing taxes and fees, or imposing new ones, is a bad idea.

A recent report shows that Washington’s economy, which ranked last year at 37th out of 50 states, dropped three places and now ranks 40th. The report cites a heavy tax burden as one of the primary reasons for this.

There are many deserving programs and policies, but when the people say they can’t afford to give the state another dime, legislators need to listen.

Fortunately, the 2024 operating budget did not include any new taxes. And Republicans were able to stop a bill that would have tripled the annual allowable growth rate for your local property taxes. However, the very expensive and burdensome cap-and-tax program (known by some as cap-and-trade) continues to affect family budgets.

It’s been a rough start for Washington’s cap- and-trade bill, with costs far exceeding early estimates. Consumers are seeing major increases to gasoline and energy prices as businesses pass on the new costs they are facing under the Climate Commitment Act.

– Association of Washington Business



Also high on your priority list is to reduce the many unnecessary regulations that are driving up the cost of living. One key area where this is important is in the home-construction industry. We should be doing everything we can to increase the supply of housing that regular, everyday people can afford.

Across the state, people earning the median income in their county can’t afford the median-priced home in the same county. Housing prices, including rents, are so inflated that it’s nearly impossible for families to buy their first home. 

Contrary to what some believe, additional regulation in the form of rent control is not the answer. Rent control actually reduces the supply of affordable rental housing by motivating housing providers to sell their properties and get out of the rental business. Often, this means that the new owner evicts the tenant so they can live in the home. Or, they take the property off the rental market and make it an Air BNB. Some property owners will default on the loans because they can’t charge a rate that will cover the cost of owning and maintaining the home.

The answer is less regulation, not more. Make it less expensive to build, own and rent.



Building a better future for Washington’s children

While the lowest-ranking priority in the survey was to provide additional funding for early education and K-12 education, I suspect that this is due to education funding fatigue and continued poor student performance.

Public education is the state’s paramount duty, according to our constitution, but when people feel squeezed in other areas, they can’t help but want to hold onto more of the money they earned for their own families.

However, learning loss continues and studies show that this is going to affect our kids for many years into their future, even reducing their lifetime earnings. 

I have proposed legislation to reduce chronic absenteeism so more kids are at their desks and ready to learn. The House killed this bill, despite bipartisan support in the Senate. The House also killed my bill to allow schools more flexibility in how they use their transportation funding, which would have provided a cost savings to our schools.

My bill to allow easier access to money for special education did pass. I’m happy about this because children receiving special-education services suffered the most academically, socially, and emotionally during the pandemic. The state owes them better educational opportunities.

Aside from education, other notable legislation to build a better future for Washington’s kids includes Initiative 2081, which protects parents’ role in their children’s education.


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