Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am honored by the opportunity you have given me to continue serving as your state representative. The trust you have placed in me year after year means a great deal. It's a privilege to work on your behalf, and to bring your ideas, thoughts and perspectives to the forefront in Olympia.
In a new role for me this session, I am serving as the ranking member of the House Commerce and Gaming Committee. The 11-member committee considers legislation related to the regulation of commerce in Washington's alcohol, tobacco and cannabis industries, as well the regulation and oversight of gaming. In fiscal year 2018, liquor, cannabis and cigarette taxes generated more than $1 billion in revenue for the state. Needless to say, each of these industries is extremely important to our state's economy.
I am also continuing to serve as the assistant ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, which considers and approves the operating budget. Since I came into office in 2013, our state's operating budget has grown by 45 percent. The governor's recent budget proposal called for another 22 percent increase in spending, along with $10 billion in tax increases over the next four years. I hope the majority party will take a more balanced approach to our fiscal responsibilities than the governor did, and that a sustainable budget will be passed. We will see in the coming weeks what their intent is.
In addition to my committee roles, this will be my first full session as assistant floor leader, a position my colleagues elected me to last March and reelected me to in December. I will be working closely with our floor leader, Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, to manage legislation and debate on the House floor. I will also be taking part in House Republican leadership meetings, and will be representing our caucus in negotiations with majority party floor leaders.
When it comes to legislation, I have an ambitious agenda this year. So far, I have introduced 13 bills, two of which I want to briefly touch on in this update.
House Bill 1090 would offer stability and predictability for Washington homeowners ages 65 years and older by capping the property tax rate on the first $250,000 of their homes' value. For example, let's say I'm 68 years old and my home is worth $240,000. If this bill becomes law, I would never pay a higher property tax rate for as long as I owned the home. Now, if my home was worth $400,000, I would be locked in at the existing rate on the home's first $250,000 in value, while the remaining $150,000 would be taxed at whatever the future rate may be. I want to make sure more of our seniors can stay in their homes and have peace of mind about their finances as they enjoy retirement. That's the intent of this bill, and I will be working hard to make sure it gains traction.
House Bill 1122 would require a portion of the sales tax from the sale of a motor vehicle to be deposited into the motor vehicle fund for transportation improvements, as opposed to being put into the general fund. This change would help increase our available resources to properly maintain our roads and keep drivers safe.
In addition to these two bills, I am working on a number of other tax reform proposals that I will roll out next week as part of a comprehensive tax reform package. Stay tuned for more information on that.
Weekly interview on iFIBEROne News Radio
Every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m., I will be live on iFIBEROne News Radio to talk with Jeff Slakey and give a brief legislative update to listeners. I want to thank Jeff for the opportunity to be on his program every week. To listen to these interviews, I invite you tune in live or visit my SoundCloud page. You can also watch my latest interview here:
In the interest of full transparency, I will be providing PDFs of my weekly meetings during the 2019 session. Click here for a list of meetings I held or attended during the first week of session.
Please feel free to contact me any time with your comments, questions or concerns. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902.
It is an honor to serve you.