Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 60-day 2018 legislation session began this week. Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his state-of-the state address on Tuesday. While he is once again calling for additional as well as increased taxes, he also spent much of his speech talking about climate change and how we have “59 days to save the children of Washington state,” which was a bit alarming. Unfortunately, there was a fairly noticeable lack of discussion on finding a bipartisan, permanent solution to the Hirst decision at all.
You can read more about how the Hirst decision is impacting rural Washington in this op-ed in the Seattle Times by my colleagues, Reps. Vincent Buys and Jim Walsh.
Taxes, taxes and more taxes!
Seattle's “Soda Tax” is making its way into the Legislative lexicon. At 1.75 cents per fluid ounce, the city's soda tax nearly doubles the price of sugary drinks at Costco. For example, a $15.99 case of Gatorade has an additional $10.34 sugar tax in Seattle. In the Legislature, House Bill 1975 would tax sugary drinks at a rate even higher: 2 cents per fluid ounce. You can read more about this proposal here.
Gov. Inslee's carbon tax is troubling. He intends to levy a tax on carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton. While this may not sound too onerous at first, the fact is, he admits it will cost substantially more to heat our homes and drive our vehicles. Preliminary, conservative estimates reveal natural gas prices would increase around 10 percent and gasoline prices would increase 6 to 9 percent (about 18 cents per gallon to start).
The state Supreme Court ruled the plan put forth by the Legislature last year met our constitutional obligations. However, they want it fully implemented by Sept. 1, 2018 instead of 2019, as the legislation called for. This is an expensive cost to taxpayers. At this time, here are our options:
*Tap the state's rainy-day fund (which is only for declared state emergencies or economic recessions);
*Raise taxes and/or make substantial cuts in state services; or
*Ignore the court and let the education-funding plan take effect in 2019.
What do you think the Legislature should do? I'm always open to hearing your thoughts and opinions on these issues. I'm here to listen to you and represent you in Olympia. Feel free to contact my office.
With the Senate now controlled by Democrats, legislation impacting gun owners is gaining steam. There are several bills to outlaw modern sporting rifles, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, requiring new licenses (gun registration) to own certain firearms, and more.
I have always supported the 2nd Amendment and an individual's right to own legal firearms. But again, what do you think? I'd like to hear from you on this issue.
It's not too late to submit a page application! Youth between the ages of 14 and 16 can serve as a House page. They need to have permission from a parent or guardian; permission from school, and; be sponsored by a current member of the House.
To learn more about the page program, click here.
Staying in touch
You can visit my website here throughout the session for continued updates. Here is a list of bills I've sponsored and cosponsored. Here is my Sound Cloud page where you can hear my weekly Capitol Report. You can click here to view the Capitol Buzz, which is a daily compilation of statewide press clippings pertaining to state government and politics.
Thank you for the privilege and honor of serving you in the state House!