Rep. Vicki Kraft holds last town hall as state legislator

Rick Bannan / [email protected]

Washington State Rep. Vicki Kraft believes her years as a legislator for the 17th Legislative District showed her track record as a conservative voice.

During a meeting with a few dozen of her constituents on the Washington State University campus in Vancouver on March 19, she noted that she was known to have the most conservative voting record in the House. Washington state officials from the American Conservative Union, which puts on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) each year.

At the town hall event, Kraft, a Republican from Vancouver, recapped the 2022 legislative session that ended the previous week. She noted that this was the first in-person town hall she has held since the COVID-19 pandemic and related closures began two years ago.

First elected to her seat in 2016, Kraft is not seeking re-election. A change in legislative district boundaries that took effect this year placed her outside the district she currently represents. Instead, she’s seeking to unseat U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, in Congress, a push she didn’t deepen into during town hall due to a state ban on use government events for campaigning.

This year’s session was the second with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Kraft said that because she refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing for the disease, she could only participate in the session remotely due to restrictions in place at the Capitol. .

“Basically, I was virtual because of the Democratic majority positions,” Kraft said.

Kraft reviewed the handful of bills she introduced this year, which ranged from limiting the governor’s emergency powers to granting scholarships to private and home-schooled students, to banning vaccination mandates, as well as providing business and occupation tax breaks for new businesses.

None of the bills she introduced this year made it to committee, Kraft noted. Kraft said she moved the bills forward regardless of agreeing to those across the political aisle because she wanted to represent her constituents.

“I’m fighting for you and putting this on paper,” Kraft said of Bills.

Kraft focused on the election survey this year in the wake of the 2020 national election. She mentioned in August that she attended the “Cyber ​​Symposium” hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. She said she had approval from the Legislative Assembly to use $1,600 of public funds to attend. At the event, Kraft said he learned about the hack and security measures to combat alleged voter fraud.

Kraft said the election security review is “just like best practice, if nothing else.” She said what she learned from the symposium entered into her own election laws, which would require a forensic audit for the general election in Washington.

While that bill didn’t make it to committee, Kraft said it predated Gov. Jay Inslee’s push for a bill criminalizing officials and candidates who knowingly make false statements and assertions about the process. election or the results of an election. This bill also died after a sessional deadline.

“When the head of your state, the governor, threatens an elected official (to) just speak out about the concerns of the people — to try to silence me, you — that’s serious,” Kraft said. “It’s communism.”

Although most of her efforts were at odds with the majority at Olympia, she mentioned that she helped create a bipartisan sex trafficking prevention caucus with Democrat Tina Orwall. One of Kraft’s bills would require mandatory fees ranging from $3,500 to $7,500 for those convicted of child sexual abuse, although it has not advanced this year.

Kraft commented on the state’s operating budget which has more than doubled in a decade to around $65 billion in the 2021-23 biennium.

“That trajectory is amazing,” Kraft said.

She said the proposed Republican budget would have taken surpluses into account and provided 1% sales tax relief, although this did not pass during the session. Kraft also touched on the nearly $17 billion “Move Ahead Washington” transportation funding program. She said the bill was “very Seattle-centric” and not drafted in a bipartisan fashion like previous transportation packages.

Although a six-cent excise tax on fuel exports was rejected following outcry from neighboring states, Kraft said the revenue it would have generated was offset by increased fuel costs. vehicle registration.

Although the package included $1 billion in funding to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River, Kraft pointed out that the regular transportation budget did not include the $300,000 in funding requested to study a third potential passage between Washington and Oregon.

Kraft said adding an extra crossing is more important than replacing the existing bridge, which includes a span that is more than a century old.

“If we really want to reduce congestion on the I-5 corridor … (that) would mean additional lanes, allowing us to cross that river much faster,” Kraft said. “At the end of the day, we really need a third bridge quickly.”

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