Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We had some long hours on the House floor this week debating and voting on bills. Several nights went late into the evening as we work to pass House bills that have made it through the committee process over to the Senate.
In an earlier e-newsletter I told you about some bills that would impact employers in our state. I appreciate the responses many of you sent in. The opinions varied but most were against all four of the bills. Here's a quick update:
House Bill 1314 – the governor's plan to implement a new carbon tax on employers and energy producers. It passed the House Environment Committee (click here to watch a video on this bill) and is scheduled for a public hearing on March 12 in the House Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1484 – the governor's plan to tax capital gains. It is still in the House Finance Committee. There is nothing happening with this bill at this time.
House Bill 1355 – increasing the state minimum wage to $12/hour over the next four years. This bill passed the House on a party line vote of 51-46. I voted against the bill. It now has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
House Bill 1356 – mandating employers pay sick leave for employees. This also passed on a party line vote of 51-46. I voted against the bill and it is now in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
West Coast port agreement
The slowdown at West Coast ports has taken its toll on families, businesses and our economy, especially on rural areas strongly dependent on agriculture. The news of a tentative agreement between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association was welcomed. We will be learning more about its impact on our state in the upcoming months.
It is the House Democrats' turn to produce the first operating budget proposal this year. They have said they plan to release their 2015-17 spending plan by March 23. With the revenue forecast being moved up to February, both the House and Senate have the information they need to move forward with proposals. I look forward to seeing what the House Democrats bring forward.
As always, feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. It's an honor serving you in Olympia.