Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In the past several days, we've spent long hours on the House floor debating and voting on bills. To date this year, 321 bills have passed the House. We are currently voting on Senate bills as we work toward policy committee cutoff for the opposite chamber, which is today, Feb. 23.
Town hall meeting | Thank you!
A big thank you to all the community members who attended our 28th District town hall meeting! Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-University Place, Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, and I listened to what community members had to say on several topics including Sound Transit, mental health investments, education funding, school safety and gun legislation. We had a great turnout and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with residents and talk about the issues you care about most.
If you missed the town hall event in Steilacoom and would like to share your concerns about public policy and state government, don't despair. Sen. O'Ban and I will be holding a telephone town hall Monday, March 12. More details on how to participate will be sent in my next email update.
Budgets | Supplemental operating, transportation and capital
Washington state budgets are enacted on a two-year cycle. The biennial transportation, operating and capital budgets are proposed and approved in odd-numbered years, and modified in even-numbered years. Modifications and minor changes to the existing budgets are commonly referred to as “supplemental.”
As you might expect, there are varying opinions on the definition of what a “minor” adjustment is. A good rule of thumb is that any change to the existing budget should only be made due to unforeseen changing conditions, such as fluctuations in state services and revenue projections. Each of the 2018 supplemental budgets are being debated in House Committees and could be voted on as early as the end of this week.
You can find an explanation of Washington state's budgets here.
Revenue forecast | Good news
A few days ago, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council reported the General Fund-State (GF-S) has increased by $647 million for the 2017-19 budget cycle and by $671 million for the 2019-21 budget cycle.
There are several reasons for the increase including the booming Puget Sound economy and the financial boost that came through the new federal tax law that allows people to keep more of their hard-earned money. Economic analysts predict that the majority of that money will be invested back into our state's economy as consumers purchase more goods and services.
Tax increases | Saying “no” to the carbon tax!
Despite these dramatic revenue increases, the governor is pushing hard for a carbon tax in excess of $3 billion. However, the truth is very little of these taxes would be used to reduce carbon in our state. The Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee passed a version of the governor's controversial energy tax a few days ago with no Republican support.
With unrealistically positive assumptions, the environmental benefits of Senate Bill 6203 would be miniscule. Additionally, the governor's “carbon tax” will be especially hard on low-income individuals and families. Inslee's own advisors say his bill would raise the cost of gas, natural gas and electricity. This is unacceptable.
With all due respect to the environmental threats asserted by the governor, his tax would shift employment away from energy intensive sectors and have little to no real impact on fossil fuel reduction.
Reducing carbon emissions without increasing taxes
Our state can reduce carbon emissions without adding tax burdens. House Bill 2283 would expand the resources that qualify as clean energy and establish tax preferences to help energy companies transition to a clean energy future. By incentivizing employers to promote renewable energy and carbon reduction investments, we can have a real impact on the environment while at the same time helping businesses expand and create new jobs.
The measure passed out of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee. It is scheduled for a vote in the House Committee on Finance Monday, Feb. 26.
Another capital gains proposal
Yes, you read that right. There is another attempt being made this session to impose a capital gains tax on the citizens of Washington. This new proposal is being called an “excise” tax. But, make no mistake, this is an income tax. Capital gains is income. Excises taxes are paid on purchases on goods, not income. In fact, the IRS form 1040, under the section titled “income” includes line 13 which requires income from capital gains to be listed when determining total income.
The income tax has appeared on the ballot ten straight times and each time Washington state citizens have said “no.” Not only are these tax increases unnecessary, given the fact that we have increased revenues coming in, their implementation could harm the gains we have made in our state's economy.
My priority bill for 2018 | Keeping sexually violent predators locked up
This session I sponsored a bill prompted by a recent Washington State Supreme Court case, In re the Detention of John Marcum. The court's decision potentially entitled sexually violent predators a new unconditional release trial each time an annual review found a less restrictive placement, or conditional release, was appropriate. We cannot risk releasing these individuals too early.
House Bill 2271 would return the system to the way it operated before the state Supreme Court's decision. Stay tuned. The measure is still alive and I'm hoping it will come the House floor for a vote soon.
Visitors are welcome | AFS international exchange students
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with several AFS international exchange students during their visit to the state Capitol. The students shared with me what it's like to live in Washington and their perspective on our state government. This is a life changing learning experience for many of these young students. Click below to watch my video as the AFS students chat with me about what they learned during their visit to Olympia.
Steilacoom High School Advanced Women's Choir
It was exciting to host the Steilacoom High School Advanced Women's Choir during their visit to Olympia. They did an excellent job performing the national anthem on the House floor in honor of Presidents Day. After their performance, the group visited with lawmakers and took photos, like the one attached below.
Listening, leading, helping
I encourage you to reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns about state government, or specific questions on a piece of legislation. If you are planning a trip to Olympia, feel free to call my office and schedule a time to meet with me.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia!