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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 30th day of session, and the halfway mark for this 60-day session. House bills that do not move out of House committees past today's cutoff are considered “dead” for the year, save for some extraordinary parliamentary procedures. To view a list of dead and alive bills, click here. While I may not agree with the categorization of each as “good” or “bad,” this gives you a good idea where the more high-profile bills are at in the process.
Governor proposes tax increases, again
Recently, Gov. Inslee came out with a package to generate more than $600 million for the next four years by repealing tax incentives. This includes ending the:
- sales tax exemption for vehicle trade-ins valued over $10,000.
- public utility tax deduction for the in-state portion of interstate transportation.
- use tax exemption for extracted fuel (except hog fuel).
- sales tax exemption for nonresident shoppers (from Oregon), forcing them to file a refund.
- sales tax exemption on bottled water.
- sales tax exemption for janitorial services.
- preferential business and occupation tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs.
While many of these sound like obscure exemptions that may not affect you, these are very real incentives that create jobs and provide relief for families. Ending these exemptions will simply make it more expensive to work and live in Washington. Despite the governor's call to address income inequality, these tax increases would fall disproportionately on the middle class. Many of these are not new proposals, either; they were proposed last year by the governor and failed to gain support. The bottled water tax increase has even been struck down by voters recently. I simply cannot support these tax increases.
We do need to continue finding ways to prioritizing education funding and living up to our constitutional mandate to fully fund basic education. That's why I supported the two-year budget passed last year which included an additional $1 billion for education funding enhancements to drive better outcomes in our classrooms. Increasing taxes when our economy is just beginning to stabilize is just not something I can support.
Creating more job opportunities for everyone
Among some of the bills that made it past cutoff are several that will hamper job creation and hinder new employers from moving to or expanding in Washington. Here are just a couple job-killing proposals I don't support:
- Increase in minimum wage. House Bill 2672 would increase the statewide minimum wage to $12 per hour over three years. Passed House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development; in House Appropriations Committee – ALIVE
- Paid sick and safe leave. House Bill 1313 would require employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid sick leave and paid leave for certain domestic violence and safety issues. Passed the House 52-45; in Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor – ALIVE
- Prevailing wage based on collective bargaining agreements. House Bill 2527 would establish the prevailing wage rate by using the hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime pay set in collective bargaining agreements. Passed House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development; in House Rules Committee – ALIVE
Instead, we need to make it easier to create a small business and create more jobs. I'm supporting bills like these to get Washington working again:
- Help counties struggling with unemployment by reestablishing the rural county sales and use tax exemption program. House Bill 2204 received a public hearing in the House Finance Committee – ALIVE
- Clarity and certainty for independent contractors. House Bill 2147 would bring regulatory consistency for independent contractors by creating a one-time, binding determination of independent contractor status through creation of a voluntary independent contractor exemption certificate program. Passed House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development; in the House Appropriations Committee – ALIVE
- Streamline government operations and end duplicative state services and government waste. House Bill 1163 did not receive a public hearing – DEAD
- Require agencies to make a permit decision within 90 days or the permit is automatically granted. House Bill 1236 did not receive a public hearing – DEAD
- Workers' compensation benefits when worker was under the influence. House Bill 2295 would limit workers' compensation benefits payable to a worker who was injured while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Public hearing in House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development – DEAD
- Training wage. House Bill 2614 would allow employers to pay less than minimum wage for new employees for their first 680 hours of work. Public hearing in House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development – DEAD
Early learning legislation
I've heard from many constituents, including daycare providers, about House Bill 2377, the Early Care Act. I signed on to this bill to start a discussion about how we can improve care for children, especially those for whom the state is subsidizing care and when taxpayers' dollars are involved. I want you to know I truly appreciate the feedback I have received and have taken it to heart. I have been asking many questions of the Department of Early Learning and other sponsors as this bill is moving through the process to ensure we get this right. Your calls and e-mails are important and make a difference!
Funding for caregivers of people with developmental disabilities
I was pleased to see a proposal come forward that found a way to secure additional funding for more providers and families who care for loved ones with developmental disabilities. House Bill 2746 would take advantage of a federal program to refinance Medicaid personal care and boost resources for those who care for our most vulnerable, including people with developmental disabilities. I'm pleased this proposal is moving forward. However, I'm disappointed that an amendment offered in the House Appropriations Committee last night to boost pay for caregivers did not receive support.
Often I am asked how I keep in contact with constituents. These e-mail updates are one way, so please be sure to forward it on to people you know who might want to receive my updates. They can sign up here. Another way is a weekly podcast that is sent to KWHT/KWVN in Walla Walla. You can listen to this weekly broadcast every Monday afternoon here. I also record weekly video updates that you can watch on YouTube here. Click on the image to the right to watch my most recent video.
Rep. Terry Nealey and I also just hosted a telephone town hall. If you were unable to join the event, you can listen to the entire conversation online here.
As always, you can contact my office by mail, e-mail or phone. My information is below – please feel free to contact me. I appreciate hearing from you.
It's an honor to serve as your state representative.
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000