Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I had forgotten how quickly time passes in a short 60-day session when we are busy in committees, shepherding bills and involved in floor debates to move legislation forward before critical deadlines. As of yesterday, only two weeks remain of the 2018 legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn March 8. I wanted to take a few minutes to bring you up to date on my new leadership position, the bills I've introduced that are still alive, the supplemental operating budget and my concerns over unnecessary tax increase proposals.
In January, I was honored to be selected by my House Republican colleagues to serve as assistant floor leader. In this role, my duties include organizing and managing debate on the House floor, representing Republicans in negotiations with majority party floor leaders, and assisting caucus leadership in the development of legislative strategy and policy.
It's the second time in several months I have been chosen to serve as a leader for the House Republican Caucus. In September, I was appointed as ranking Republican on the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee.
- Read about my assistant floor leader selection here.
- Read about my appointment as ranking committee member here.
I was also recently interviewed for a House Republican leadership podcast, in which we discussed my new leadership role, along with past bills over my legislative career which have made a positive impact for the state. You can listen to that interview here.
Ensuring property tax relief for our seniors, disabled
Many property owners, especially senior citizens with fixed incomes, struggle to pay property taxes. That's why our state has programs available for senior citizens that may allow a partial tax exemption, a valuation freeze, deferrals and reductions on property taxes, depending upon income eligibility. House Bill 2906 would allow a senior citizen or a person with a disability to claim a property tax exemption if income is reduced in the last two months of an assessment year due to the death of a spouse. I sponsored this after a constituent lost a spouse and became ineligible for property tax relief. I don't think people should be penalized for the death of a spouse, so that's why I introduced this bill. The measure passed the House unanimously. It is scheduled for a public hearing this Saturday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Protecting open access to the Internet
I was pleased to co-sponsor legislation that would ensure Washington consumers have access to a free and open internet. House Bill 2282 would safeguard net neutrality. Under this legislation, internet service providers in the state would be prohibited from blocking customers' access to lawful content, “throttling,” or slowing down lawful content, and/or favoring certain content over others due to “paid prioritization.” The measure passed the House, 93-5. Yesterday, it was approved in the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.
For information on the bills I have sponsored/co-sponsored, go here.
Budgets and taxes
State revenue has grown more than the biennium projections. We have an additional $647 million of incoming revenue to the state for the current budget cycle. Over the next four years, it's anticipated the state will bring in an additional $1.3 billion, This excess revenue should be used to provide property tax relief to the hard-working people of Washington state.
That being said, one of the most difficult tasks I face in the legislative process is to be in the minority and feeling helpless to stop tax increases. Gov. Inslee wants to impose a carbon tax that would increase your electricity and natural gas rates by 10 percent and by up to 20 cents per gallon at the gas pumps. A capital gains income tax passed a House committee earlier this week, despite the fact that Washington voters have rejected an income tax 10 times.
I am hearing from my constituents on a daily basis that they cannot afford to fund any more special projects. We all need to live within our means, and that means government as well. I assure you, I will continue to voice my frustration and the frustration of my constituents, and work hard to bring tax balance and equity where there is little to none right now.
Please stay in touch!
I want to thank all of you who attended our 25th District town hall meeting last Saturday at Pierce College Puyallup. Your input is very valuable to me and my seatmates, Rep. Melanie Stambaugh and Sen. Hans Zeiger.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 8. Between now and the final day, we will be very busy debating and voting on bills on the House floor. Now is a very important time to hear from you. Please write, email or call my office if you have questions, comments or concerns about legislation we are considering. My contact information is below.
Thank you for giving me the honor of representing and serving you!