Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Join me tomorrow for a town hall:
Please join me and Rep. Dan Griffey for a town hall meeting!
When: Saturday, March 14 from 2-3:30 p.m.
Where: The Pavilion at Sentry Park (Senior Center), 190 W. Sentry Drive, Shelton
We look forward to updating you on the 2015 legislative session, discussing issues important to you, and answering your questions!
If you, or someone you know, have served as a Navy submariner like me, you may be familiar with halfway night. Halfway night is a tradition celebrated at the halfway point of a patrol. It was always a good opportunity to catch our breath, and have a night to build solidarity amongst the crew. In the Legislature, we have reached the halfway point of the 2015 legislative session and we celebrated by sharing a few late nights on the House floor!
We aren't using the halfway point of session as an opportunity to slow down, though. In fact, we are sprinting to the finish line of the 105-day session. With revenue up over 8 percent and a strong economic forecast in February, there is no excuse to not get our work done within the allotted time. I am confident we will do the work necessary to negotiate a budget that is sensible, sustainable and does not raise taxes.
I have heard from a number of people from our district on the issue of taxes this year. Whether it be increasing the state gas tax, instituting a capital gains tax or the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax, I have heard loud and clear that taxes are standing in the way of real economic growth in our state. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring about much needed reform to the state tax code.
This morning, I testified in the House Finance Committee on my bill to reform one part of the tax code: our outdated and burdensome B&O tax. House Bill 2150 would eliminate the B&O tax for over 285,000 businesses in Washington state, provide flexible deductions to businesses grossing more than $500,000 a year, and put all businesses on equal footing. My bill is also revenue neutral, meaning it has no negative affect on the state budget. For more information on my bill click here.
This reform is about the future. Small-business owners know the risk it takes to open a business in Washington, which is consistently in the top five nationally for start-up business failures. They also know the B&O-tax bill comes regardless of how much money their business makes. It arrives between their mortgage and electric bill. They, and countless others, do this because they believe in the American dream. They do this to build our communities and create jobs in a slowly recovering economy. They know hard work is required, and are routinely up before the sun, and home well past dinner. Every community has folks like this.
We have an opportunity before us to give these businesses a fighting chance. We can undo decades of picking winners and losers by helping them grow and be the next Washington success story. I believe if we are to get Washington working again, we must work to reduce regulations and barriers to growth. By providing flexibility to our state's job creators, I believe we accelerate job growth, and make Washington a leader nationally and a competitor globally.
I will continue to work with House leaders to keep this important reform moving forward!
Since my last update, much of our time has been spent on the House floor debating and voting on bills. I am happy to say I had three bills pass the House with strong bipartisan support.
- House Bill 1465 would require the Department of Labor and Industries to deposit funds for elevator inspections into a dedicated account. This will help ensure elevator inspection funds are protected and reduce a backlog of elevator inspections statewide. This bill passed with nearly two-thirds support in the House.
- House Bill 1636 would instruct state agencies with over 100 employees to issue a report on the number of persons with disabilities employed. The idea for this bill was brought to me by a constituent last year and helps identify work force opportunities for those with disabilities at state agencies. It passed the House unanimously.
- House Bill 1749, another constituent request bill, would end the requirement for homeowners working on their house to “flip” it to register with Labor and Industries as a contractor. Labor and Industries levied large fines against homeowners who made these types of improvements without registering as a contractor. Not only is this an unfair requirement, this practice hinders economic growth. I am happy it also passed the House unanimously.
I look forward to the Senate passing these bills and having them signed by the governor later this year.
Finally, I appreciate you taking the time to read this update and I encourage you to share your comments, concerns and questions with me. I am always happy to meet to talk about issues important to you and our community. Together we can make it morning again in America!