Legislative Republicans unimpressed with Democratic majority

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Emry Dinman/Columbia Basin Herald Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, speaks at the House and Senate Republicans’ weekly press availability.

Halfway through the 2018 legislative session, state Republican lawmakers are not impressed with the accomplishments of the Democratic majority.

Though Democratic leadership has boasted about the number of bills that have been pushed through the Senate after taking control from Republicans last year, Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said at a press conference Tuesday that his caucus prefers quality over quantity.

Schoesler said that he’s been impressed by little since the passage of a Hirst fix several weeks ago, which resolved legal obstacles for landowners drilling permit-exempt wells.

“After that, none of (the bills passed) are game changers for people’s lives in the state,” Schoesler said.

Republicans also expressed dissatisfaction with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who threatened on Monday to file a lawsuit if the Trump administration moves forward with offshore oil exploration off the West Coast.

Ferguson has gained a national reputation for filing lawsuits against the Trump administration, most notably over the travel ban. When asked whether Ferguson was effective at winning his lawsuits, Republicans balked.

“He’s effective at filing lawsuits,” as opposed to actually winning them, said Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick. “What’s the most appropriate use of taxpayer resources? Does it make sense to just keep suing, or does it make sense to sit down and try to come to some form of agreement?”

Republicans also reaffirmed their commitment to resist a carbon tax, which Inslee has made the centerpiece of his legislative agenda for the year.

“I think an important thing to remember on the birthday of Ronald Reagan, we celebrate the Fourth of July, the other side celebrates April 15,” Schoesler said.

April 15 is better known as Tax Day, the day federal income taxes are typically due. Tax Day will actually fall on April 18 this year.

What Washingtonians need now, said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is job growth and infrastructure improvements, not higher taxes. Schoesler added that Republicans want to see infrastructure packages that aren’t only going to benefit certain parts of the state.

“We’re a statewide caucus, we’d like to see a statewide infrastructure package,” Schoesler said. “In some parts of the state the transportation system is absolutely the most critical, in some places it’s water, in some places it’s broadband. There are issues to look at statewide, and punishing hardworking taxpayers is not part of our agenda.”

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