Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session is just over a month away. The 60-day session will once again be a mostly remote session with online committee hearings. However, unlike last session, legislators will be allowed in their offices in Olympia only if they provide proof of vaccination status or submit to regular COVID testing.
This is not how I nor many of my legislative colleagues envisioned the session playing out. However, the Democrat majority is making the rules at this time. We'll see if they allow the public – YOU – to play an in-person role. In the meantime, here are some ways to stay involved and up to date during the legislative session:
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
- How you can be involved in the legislative process: This includes a citizen's guide to effective legislative participation.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- The Ledger: A legislative news aggregator that is updated frequently.
- Capitol Buzz: Sent out each weekday, featuring stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
- Testify remotely: You can testify remotely in all Senate and House committees during session. This link will be updated once session begins.
Revenue forecast confirms – you are paying more than ever in taxes!
The updated November revenue forecast shows tax collections up by nearly $2 billion over the next four years. This follows on the heels of several upticks in tax collections and will result in an estimated $8.8 billion operating budget surplus over the next four years. This is in addition to $1.2 billion in unspent federal stimulus funds and another $1.2 billion in the state's rainy day account. What should the state do with this unprecedented surplus?
Our economy continues to thrive, despite the impacts from COVID. With the unprecedented growth of tax revenue over recent years, isn't it time to give some back? Perhaps in the form of property tax relief? What do you think? Feel free to email me at Joe.Schmick@leg.wa.gov with your ideas for this extra revenue because oftentimes the best solutions come from you.
Efforts to once again breach the Snake River dams
There is continuing momentum to try and breach the Snake River dams. I have done several surveys and poll questions via email updates and telephone townhalls over the years. I know that, as a whole, most citizens in the 9th Legislative District do not support this effort. However, we must remain diligent and stay involved. The movement to breach the dams will never give up, no matter how detrimental it is to our communities, farmers, transportation system, and environment. I urge you to learn more about this issue. You can visit our website here for facts, statistics, maps, and more resources to help you write letters to your local newspapers and converse with your friends and family. It is not hyperbole to say that we are closer to losing the dams now than ever before.
Washingtonians will continue to see fuel prices go up
We are seeing gas prices at the pump rise across the country. But here in Washington, it's not just supply chain issues and refinery capacity. With the governor passing his climate agenda this past session, both his low carbon fuel standard and his cap and tax plan have yet to go into effect. You can learn more about these policies and how they influence the price of gas here.
Ten things every WA citizen should know
Finally, I would encourage you to visit a new webpage just released today by Washington House Republicans. Titled “The current state of Washington: 10 facts every citizen should know,” this website has information and statistics on crime, home ownership, homelessness, taxes, the child care crisis, and more. Again, we're just trying to show contrast between how things are currently, how they've been, and perhaps how they could be in the future. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Thank you for reading my email update. As always, let me know your thoughts and concerns on state issues and potential legislation. It is an honor to serve you in the state Legislature.