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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today, March 8, at 5 p.m. is house of origin cutoff – the deadline for House bills to pass out of the chamber. If a bill does not advance by this deadline, it is considered “dead” for the year. With this deadline looming, we’ve been debating dozens of bills on the House floor all day and night.  

Rolling back anti-police laws

On Tuesday, the House majority party blocked a motion to bring House Bill 1363 – bipartisan legislation concerning vehicular pursuits – to the floor for a vote.

There was no excuse for what happened. Despite overwhelming evidence that soft-on-crime policies only serve to embolden criminals, House Democrats refused to even debate a measure that would give law enforcement professionals a fighting chance in the midst of a crime spree.

This experiment of allowing criminals free rein to do as they please has utterly failed. It’s time to admit the obvious: the 2021 anti-police law restricting pursuits has achieved the opposite of its intent. It has made our communities more dangerous, encouraged more high-speed getaways, and sent the message to would-be criminals that Washington state will not hold them accountable for their actions.

Less than one week ago, two precious lives were lost when a wrong-way drunk driver tragically killed two children. State law barred troopers from stopping the driver and potentially saving those kids.

This issue goes further than a single police tactic. It’s about whether we’re going to restore law and order and allow families to thrive without fear of violence. Or whether we’re going to continue down this path of prioritizing criminals over their victims.

This move also follows of a pattern. The majority party in the House voted to get rid of legal financial obligations (victim compensation), sentencing enhancements, prior juvenile offenses when sentencing, and to fast-track prisoner release. You can’t get much softer on crime. People will die from this radical agenda.

Fighting for your right to keep and bear arms

Late Tuesday night, we debated House Bill 1143, which would erect new hurdles for citizens to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. No constitutional right should be subject to a test, and no law abiding citizen should have to be placed in a database for accessing that right.

Unfortunately, the bill narrowly passed the House by a vote of 52-44. Every Republican voted no, and we were joined by several Democrats.

Special education funding

On March 2nd, we passed House Bill 1436 to increase funding for special education. While a step in the right direction, this bill does not go nearly far enough. That’s why my colleague, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, introduced striking amendment 153 to the bill, which would have fully-funded special education. A striking amendment removes everything after the title of a bill and inserts a whole new bill.

I rose on the House floor to speak in favor of this amendment. For too long, we’ve failed as a state to fulfill our constitutional duty to adequately fund special education, and this was our chance to finally get it right. Unfortunately, House Democrats voted against fully-funding special education, and we had to settle for the underlying bill.

Protecting communities from sexually violent predators   

Since January, I’ve been fighting, with every tool I have available, the state’s dangerous and misguided plan to release sexually violent predators into communities across Washington state.

My colleagues and I crafted a multi-pronged attack to slam the brakes on this effort and educate the public about the truth of what’s happening:

  • House Bill 1813 would only allow the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to house civilly committed sex predators in secure facilities on McNeil Island or one Secure Transition Facility in South Seattle.
    • The bill would also restrict the state from utilizing any new facilities.
  • House Bill 1734 would close the public notice loophole in the process of placing sex predators into less restrictive alternative (LRA) housing.
  • House Bill 1751 would require the state to involve superior courts in decisions they make on housing sex predators.

The Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee refused to hear any of these bills, and so they are effectively “dead” for the year; however, nothing is ever really over in the Legislature until adjournment on April 23.

The good news is that Supreme Living, the private company that planned to open a facility in Tenino, pulled out. Moreover, Gov. Inslee already has the power to do the things outlined in our bills. He and his agency heads don’t need a new law to prevent the release of sex predators into residential neighborhoods, or to give proper public notice. And so, we’re urging him to listen to the overwhelmingly outcry from the public on this issue and put a stop to this plan.

Stay tuned for more updates on this issue.

Telephone town hall meeting

You’re invited to join me and Rep. Dan Griffey this Friday, March 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for a telephone town hall meeting.

A telephone town hall is an opportunity for constituents to directly engage with their representatives and ask questions related to the 2023 legislative session over the phone.

The call-in number to participate is (360) 335-2741.

I am looking forward to hearing from folks from all over the 35th District about the issues that matter most to them. With session more than halfway over, this is a great opportunity for us to provide information about our efforts to improve public safety, make childcare more affordable, and protect our most vulnerable citizens.

If you have any questions, you can contact me or Rep. Griffey directly:

Rep. Dan Griffey
(360) 786-7966 | Dan.Griffey@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Travis Couture
(360) 786-7902 | Travis.Couture@leg.wa.gov 

Thanking former Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury

Last month, the House adopted a resolution I sponsored to thank former Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury for his dedicated public service to our community.

Sheriff Salisbury was first elected as Mason County Sheriff in 2006 and went on to protect and serve the people for 16 years.   

Read House Resolution 4612 by clicking here.   

On the radio

You can listen to recent radio interviews I’ve participated in here:

Other I am sponsoring this session

  • House Bill 1274 would create a child malnutrition field guide for the department of children, youth, and families to assist department staff with identifying and preventing child malnutrition.
  • House Bill 1537 would reduce the cost of child care centers and indoor early learning programs.
  • House Bill 1671 would require candidates for public office and elected officials to be honest about their military records.  
  • House Bill 1672 would provide a spirits tax exemption on spirits purchased for veterans’ service organizations’ fund-raising.

How you can get involved

  • My legislative website | Find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
  • Get involved | The House Republican guide to communicating with legislators and participating in the legislative process.
  • The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.   
  • The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
  • TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
  • The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
  • Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
  • State agencies | Lists of all state agencies, boards, and commissions.
  • Participating in the process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process

Thank you!

Please contact my office with your questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions. I am here to listen and serve you. 

I will do my best to answer messages from constituents first, so please be sure to include your home address and phone number in your correspondence.

It’s an honor to serve you!

Travis Couture

State Representative Travis Couture, 35th Legislative District
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7902 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000