Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Despite record tax collections coming into the state, including a surplus of over a billion dollars since the Legislature left town last spring, the majority party in Olympia passed a business and occupation tax increase last week.
Senate Bill 6492 was fast-tracked through the legislative process and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday. The bill addresses problems created by another measure that was fast-tracked last year to create a workforce education entitlement. Unfortunately, the bill was poorly written, difficult to administer, and underestimated how much money in new taxes would be needed.
I voted against both of these bills. The new B&O tax bill will expand the tax to another 4,000 employers. The Department of Revenue estimates that around 14,000 businesses and 886,000 jobs will be impacted. The tax increase will make things like health care and home building more expensive. These costs will likely be passed on to consumers, making life less affordable for many families.
With record tax collections, and with voters continually saying “no” to new or increased taxes, I think this policy by the majority party is the wrong way to go for Washington.
Low-carbon fuel standard
The majority party in the House also passed a low-carbon fuel standard. House Bill 1110 would allow the Department of Ecology to create a clean fuels program (by rule) to reduce carbon intensity of transportation fuels. California tried this but is now backtracking from their program as the price of gas and diesel continues to rise because of it. Early estimates suggest gas prices in our state could rise by as much 57 cents per gallon with little to no benefit to the environment.
As a reminder, our state produces less than three-tenths of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. One bad wildfire in our region would eliminate a decade's worth of carbon savings from this bill. We all want clean air and water, and our state has an abundance of both. If we were serious about helping carbon emissions, we would change how we manage our forests to help prevent catastrophic wildfires.
You can watch my floor speech against this bill here.
I wanted to give you a quick update on the remote testimony project and how you can be involved and take advantage of this opportunity. If you recall, the House has instigated this pilot program for the following committees: College and Workforce Development; Housing, Community Development and Veterans; and Local Government. Testimony can be given at Spokane Community College.
Bills and other measures for remote testimony will be selected by the Committee Chair and Ranking Member. These opportunities will be included in email notifications for participating committees and listed in the Legislative Meeting Schedule online.
People wanting to testify are required to register for remote testimony using the web-based sign-in system and are strongly encouraged to register at least 24 hours before the meeting.
You can access information on bills I'm sponsoring here.
My bill to protect taxpayers from home foreclosure (House Bill 2526) has stalled at the moment. But it has a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by my seatmate, Sen. Jeff Holy. His bill, Senate Bill 6314, is still alive and moving through the legislative process.
We will be working late into the evening this week and the first part of next week as we debate, amend and vote on bills on the House floor that have passed through committees. House bills that have not passed the House by next Wednesday will be considered “dead” for the session unless they are necessary to implement the budget (NTIB).
As always, I appreciate hearing from you on these and other state issues. It is an honor to represent you in Olympia.