Dear Friends and Neighbors,
While the entire state is now in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's “Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery Plan,” many of you have contacted my office asking about Phase 3.
“Rep. Schmick, what does Phase 3 look like? What are the parameters we need to meet to be compliant so we can move to this next phase?”
“Joe, what does Phase 3 allow restaurants to do? What does that look like for schools?”
“Hey, Joe! Has Gov. Inslee figured out what we need to do for Phase 3 and what that means we'll be able to do? Is that more entertainment? More restaurants opening? More hospitality services? What about masks?”
I wish I had answers for you because we are indeed asking the governor's office these same questions. In fact, one of the many letters we've officially written to the governor's office requesting him to clarify Phase 3 has gone unanswered. You can read that letter here. You can see a list of letter we've sent to the governor since the beginning of COVID, here.
Just two days ago, KHQ TV posted this story on its website:
We continue to see hospitalizations, positive tests, and deaths on a downward trend. Inslee's expected “Super Bowl” spike never materialized, neither has the “back to school” spike as more students are either back in school full time or in some hybrid fashion.
There needs to be clear definitions and parameters to give folks a bit of hope on when our economy can get back to normal by transitioning to the next phase.
Local control is usually best
I'm still a firm believer in local control when it comes to governing. The government closest to the people usually is more accountable, more knowledgeable of local issues, and takes the unique characteristics, priorities and principles of the local population into account.
In one of my weekly podcasts on Capitol Report, an appearance on KONA Radio, and in an op-ed to the East Washingtonian, I've warned about House Bill 1152. This legislation would create “regionalized” health departments at the expense of “local” ones. We're still negotiating this bill to find a solution that accommodates all sides. Sue Lani Madsen wrote an interesting piece on this issue in The Spokesman-Review: Local accountability matters in public health and public schools
Do Washingtonians support tax increases?
It's an honest question. I do get emails from time to time from constituents who tell me that they believe Washington state is spending their money wisely and that they are more than willing to pay more in taxes. Based on the amount of tax increase legislation proposed just in the House of Representatives (there's more from the Senate side as well), it makes me wonder if some in Olympia are getting many, many, many more emails than I am?
Perhaps the most onerous is the income tax on capital gains. Washington voters have rejected 10 straight income tax proposals, including 6 constitutional amendments. Yet there are some in the Legislature that want to begin the process of a state income tax. The IRS has even confirmed that a tax on capital gains is an income tax. In addition, every other state that has a capital gains tax also has a tax on basic income.
As always, I welcome your feedback as I strive to do my best to represent our collective interests. And again, you can click here to read more about how you can stay involved in our remote legislative session through remote testimony, written testimony, or watching committee and floor action via TVW.
Thank you for staying involved, reading my updates, and allowing me to serve.