Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Two major things happened since I last wrote you. First, House Democrats introduced a transportation package which includes, among many other fees, a 10-cent gas tax increase. You can read more about the package here. Please let me know what you think by taking this survey. I am concerned about the impact a gas tax this large would have on the many commuters in the Second District. I think one answer to congestion is to create jobs where people live, so they don't have to travel so far to work.
Second, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the two-thirds requirement for the Legislature to increase your taxes. This doesn't change the will of the people, who spoke resoundingly in favor of this high bar for tax increases five times in the last 20 years. Read the statement I sent to the press here. Remember that I led the charge by House Republicans to put this requirement in our House chamber rules, but the majority party turned it down.
We have had two deadlines for House bills to move out of House committees, or else they are considered “dead” for the year. You can read this comprehensive list of bills House Republicans have been tracking and their status. Note that I may not agree with every categorization as “good” or “bad,” but this gives you a good idea of what's still moving forward.
Last week, we spent a great deal of time in fiscal committees – myself in Appropriations and Finance. These committees worked long hours to vote on fiscal bills (some good and some bad) before the fiscal cutoff last Friday. Of course there are always exceptions to these rules, but these deadlines are designed to help us finish our work in the constitutionally allotted 105 days. Of course, in my two years I have never seen the Legislature adjourn on time! In the Finance Committee, we heard a lot about tax incentives for targeted industries that the governor wants to promote for his jobs agenda. While I believe tax incentives can be used to help employers create and sustain jobs, I believe that the test should be a bill's effectiveness in increasing employment, not whether it fits a political agenda. In one case, a bill merely subsidizes wealthy homeowners to put solar panels on their mansions.
This week, the House will spend a great deal of time on the “floor,” voting on bills as a full chamber. I encourage you to come and watch debates on simple, complex, good and bad bills. It's fascinating to watch your government in action. If you can't make it to Olympia, you can always watch on TVW. We arrive on the floor each day this week at 10 a.m. (after committees), so you can watch for debates after that and sometimes long into the night (a cure for those with insomnia!).
Some bad bills moving forward include:
- House Bill 1588 would expand background checks on the sale of firearms, including between private parties. I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment to defend ourselves on our property. This bill merely goes after law-abiding citizens and does nothing to go after criminals with weapons.
- House Bill 1231 would require certain professional engineers to complete continuing education requirements. Though there has been no correlation between lack of education and accidents, this would put an undue burden on workers.
In my most recent video update, I discussed another bad bill for jobs (House Bill 1440) and free enterprise in our state with Rep. Norma Smith, the Republican lead on the Technology and Economic Development Committee:
- House Bill 1112 would require state agencies to use credible science and identify their sources when taking regulatory action.
- House Bill 1188 would help reestablish agriculture land in Western Washington. I talked more about this bill on Comcast Newsmakers, which you can watch here.
- House Bill 1558 would repeal an expiration date for tax exemptions for honey beekeepers, and create a new sales and use tax exemption on honey bee food. Honey bees are absolutely critical to the success of agriculture.
- House Bill 1537 would allow military service members with separation orders to claim veterans' status when applying for state jobs. This would accelerate the job application process and eliminate potentially months of unemployment for our service members.
- House Bill 1632 would authorize the use of wheeled all-terrain vehicles on certain public roadways with a speed limit of 35 mph or less if the operator fulfills registration and equipment requirements.
Please feel free to contact my office anytime with questions, concerns or suggestions. I appreciate hearing from you, and I'm honored to serve you.