Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now just over halfway through the 2013 session. A lot of bills are technically “dead” for the remainder of the year. To see our House Republican “Good Bill/Bad Bill” list that shows which bills are alive and which are dead, click here.
State Supreme Court Kills Taxpayer Protections
Speaking of “dead,” the state Supreme Court recently ruled that the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional. I find this very unfortunate. The voters of this state have supported a higher threshold for tax increases five times in the last 20 years. Last year, every county in the state; 44 out of 49 legislative districts; and 75 percent of the voters in the 7th Legislative District supported the two-thirds legislative vote to raise taxes!
As one of my colleagues said, “The Supreme Court's ruling may have changed the law of the land, but it doesn't change the will of the people.” – I couldn't agree more. As I've said before, I'm supporting a constitutional amendment to place this taxpayer protection into the state constitution so that this issue can be resolved once and for all.
In my last e-newsletter, I told you about the House majority party's proposal to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents, along with an assortment of other tax and fee increases. My House Republican colleagues and I say that before the Legislature takes more tax dollars from your pockets, we need to address the problems and the waste in our state's transportation system. We say, “Fix it before you fund it!”
Last Thursday, I and my House Republican colleagues released an action plan of economic and transportation reforms that would: create jobs, make gas tax dollars go further, ensure accountability and protect taxpayers. Here's a quick look at our plan:
- House Bill 1236 would require state agencies to make a permit decision in 90 days or the permit is granted.
- House Bill 1619 would suspend Growth Management Act requirements in counties with persistent unemployment, where regulations often stand in the way of economic development.
- House Bill 1985 would exempt future state transportation projects from state and local sales and use tax.
- House Bill 1986 would require WSDOT to report to the Legislature on engineering errors and mistakes that exceed $500,000.
- House Bill 1984 would limit WSDOT's tort liability based on the amount of the department's actual fault, instead of allowing plaintiffs to recover the entire judgment from the deeper pockets of the state.
- House Bill 1989 would limit bond terms for transportation projects to 15 years.
Raising taxes and throwing more money at the state's transportation system without implementing reforms would only enable more of the same problems of waste and failure. We need to make sure that every dollar taken from the taxpayer is used wisely and efficiently BEFORE asking for more of your hard-earned money. For more information on our “Fix it before you fund it!” proposal, click here.
A few of my bills are still alive and moving through the process:
House Bill 1113 – this is my bill to help make the Department of Ecology more accountable and transparent. It passed the House with a unanimous vote. Here's an excerpt from my press release on this bill:
- “The state Department of Ecology makes decisions and implements rules that have a huge impact to landowners and business owners around the state, and especially in rural areas like northeast Washington. The department itself is divided into ten separate environmental management programs and each of those programs is divided into further subgroups. With so many layers of information and responsibility, we just need to make sure that accountability and transparency don't get lost in the bureaucracy.”
To read the entire news release, click here.
House Bill 1192 – this is my bill to make it easier for veterans who've been disabled in the line of duty, and who are living outside the state, to hunt and fish here in Washington. I'm hoping that it will also make it less expensive for Washington's disabled veterans to hunt and fish in other states. It was brought to me by several veterans from Ferry County. I'm honored to shepherd this bill through the legislative process. This bill also passed the House unanimously. Here is a quick excerpt from my news release on this bill:
- “My bill would allow veterans with disabilities in other states to qualify for reduced hunting and fishing license fees here in Washington. It would also encourage reciprocity – that is, it would encourage other states to offer the same discounted license fees to our state's veterans. We have veterans with disabilities who would like to hunt and fish in other states; and wounded veterans from other states that would like to participate in those activities here in Washington. I think it's the least we can do for those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
To read the entire press release, click here.
Check out these photos of the center section of the new Keller Ferry. It's on the move in preparation for service this summer!
As always, please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to friends and family. And thanks again for being involved and for the privilege of serving you in Olympia.
427A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000