Rep. McEntire Criticizes Democratic Legislators for Partisanship on Budgets and Guns, Expresses Frustration Over Last Minute Closure of Naselle  Youth Camp


In an email update on the recently completed legislative session, 19th District State Rep. Joel McEntire, R-Cathlamet, informed his constituents about the results of the 2022 legislative session that ended on March 10 — and his opinion on what those results mean for constituents.

In his update, McEntire expressed disappointment in what he saw as a lack of bipartisan collaboration in the Legislature. In particular, McEntire expressed frustration with what he perceived as a partisan push for the supplemental operating and transportation budgets and gun legislation.

According to McEntire, the Democrats in the Legislature shut out Republicans from the negotiations for the supplemental transportation budget. The result was a budget that, in McEntire’s view, neglected maintenance while pumping money into other transportation projects including public transit and pedestrian paths. He also expressed frustration with the budget transferring millions of dollars away from an account that provides funding for local infrastructure projects, such as water and sewer systems.

McEntire also criticized the supplemental operating budget that the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed. In his statement, McEntire called the spending increases in the state budget “unsustainable.” He pointed to the 24% increase in the state budget spending for the current 2021-2023 biennium from the previous 2019-2021 biennium as an example of what he believes are unsustainable spending increases. He also provided a graph showing that total biennial spending by the state government had more than doubled in the last 10 years, with spending for the 2011-2013 biennium budget totalling $30.9 billion while the current 2021-2023 budget totalled to $65.14 billion, an increase of nearly 111% during that period. McEntire further criticized what he perceived as a failure to provide what he called “tax relief for working families.”

Rep. McEntire also specifically condemned the supplemental operating budget’s closure of the Naselle Youth Camp in Pacific County. According to McEntire, the camp provides “teens or young adults an opportunity to gain some structure in their life while obtaining a high school degree or GED.” In what McEntire called “an end-of-session sneaky move and very disappointing,” the supplemental operating budget was changed in its final version to direct the state government to close the camp rather than appropriating $295,000 that had been in the two previously released public versions of the supplemental budget. In his statement, McEntire mentioned his fellow 19th District state Rep. Jim Walsh’s efforts to protect the camp’s funding. McEntire also pointed out that Gov. Inslee had not yet signed the supplemental operating budget and that he could use a line-item veto to remove the section from the final proposal but expressed pessimism that Inslee would do so.

Rep. McEntire further highlighted the Democrats’ passage of gun-related bills, saying the bills were an attack on Second Amendment rights. He stated that he believed “some of the bills are unconstitutional and will be difficult to enforce.” Amongst the gun bills he criticized were ESSB 5078, which places a limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines that can be sold in Washington and was signed into law by Gov. Inslee last Wednesday, March 23; ESHB 1705, which prohibits untraceable guns, meaning a gun that does not possess an attached serial number that can be traced by law enforcement, which was passed by the Legislature and is awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature and ESHB 1630, which prohibits the open-carry of firearms at local government meetings for municipalities or school boards and at election related sites and is awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature.

Despite his many criticisms of the Democrats in the Legislature however, Rep. McEntire praised the supplemental capital budget as a bright spot in this year’s legislative session. McEntire, who serves as the assistant ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee, claimed that the passage of the capital budget was “done in a very bipartisan manner and showed we can work together.” According to McEntire, the capital budget brought over $4.1 million to the 19th District, which includes Pacific County as well as parts of Lewis County.