Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is an honor to serve as your 35th District state representative. I am pleased to report that strong bipartisan work was done on many fronts again this year, most notably the supplemental state operating budget. We were able to apply additional funding for K-12 education to move us closer to compliance with the 2012 state Supreme Court's McCleary education funding order and freeze tuition at state colleges for a second year in a row.
Personally, I enjoyed working alongside colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to matters, such as finding innovative solutions to funding school construction to accommodate the lower class sizes we are funding as part of our commitment to K-12 education, as well as legislation to better support our service men and women. While all my bills did not pass, I take heart in knowing that, regardless of political party, we can come together and work from a place of common ground.
Below is a brief update on legislation I sponsored this year, details on my new district office in Belfair, information on the state's election-year restrictions and how we can best serve you when contacting my office for assistance.
House Bill 2130 is a measure to streamline programs that assist current military members and veterans transition into civilian life. Building upon 2006 legislation establishing the Veterans' Innovations Program (VIP), this legislation combines the Defenders' Fund and Competitive Grant Program simplifying internal processes for the Washington Department of Veterans' Affairs. Funds appropriated to VIP will still be used to increase awareness of the program to veterans and active duty service members. Funds from this program can now also be used to develop partnerships to assist members in completing the application process, along with education, training and employment assistance. Additionally, the bill expands these services to members of the National Guard. This bill was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on April 2.
House Bill 2797 would have put as much as $700 million toward building schools to reduce K-3 class sizes and comply with the state Supreme Court's McCleary order to fully fund education. We will have to come up with innovative solutions like this in order to ensure our schools have the space to accommodate smaller class sizes and the additional teachers required. This bill passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 90-7 in the House, but did not make it through the Senate.
House Bill 2264 would have refined our state's business and occupation tax (B&O) structure and help small businesses succeed. This measure would have offered businesses relief from the state's B&O tax, which is the tax applied to businesses' gross receipts. “Gross receipts” is defined as gross income, or total sales receipts before payroll and other business expenses. Different rates are applied at various rates based on business activity classifications, such as manufacturing, retail, or service sectors. Instead of the current structure of B&O tax and credits for certain industries, this bill would have given businesses a choice of three deductions from the B&O tax in each filing year:
- costs of goods sold;
- 30 percent of gross revenue; or
- up to $300,000 in employee compensation.
Businesses could choose whichever deduction results in a greater benefit to their tax liability. This bill did not receive a hearing in the House.
New district office address, phone number
As part of ensuring government is closest to the people it serves, I just reopened my interim 35th District legislative office in Belfair. My legislative aide, Kevin Shutty, staffs the office during regular business hours. Please feel free to stop by if you need assistance working with a state agency, finding a service or have an idea to make our district and state a better place to live and work. The new address and phone number are as follows:
Evergreen Building, Space A, Office 2
24160 N.E. State Highway 3
Belfair, WA 98528
We want you to know what is happening in Olympia, and how it affects you. However, this is an election year, and under the provisions of a 1991 law (created by Initiative 134) there are limits on what and when we can mail to you. After this e-mail update, the soonest we can send another is just before the 2015 legislative session.
However, the initiative does permit us to respond to your direct requests for information, and we encourage you to write or call whenever you have a question or a comment to share on legislation or other matters. Please be sure to be clear that you would like a response from our office to ensure we are not contacting you outside of the ethics provisions explained above.
As always, my door is open. I welcome your feedback and we're happy to help you in any way we can. If you need a speaker for a community event, or would like to meet with me one-on-one, please contact my district office.