Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In my last email update, and during my telephone town hall, I asked you to share your thoughts with me on a couple of important issues. I am happy to share those results with you:
1. Do you support ending the death penalty in Washington state?
- Yes – 44%
- No – 51%
- Undecided – 5%
2. Do you support Common Core in Washington state?
- Yes – 20%
- No – 59%
- Undecided – 21%
3. Do you support the governors “cap and trade” tax proposal for Washington businesses?
- Yes – 18%
- No – 75%
- Undecided – 7%
4. With revenue up over $3 billion, do you support Gov. Inslee's plan to raise taxes by $1.5 billion this year?
- Yes – 15%
- No – 80%
- Undecided – 5%
We are well into the 2015 legislative session, and while much work remains to be done, I am pleased to report we are making progress! I am happy to provide you with this update on the work taking place at the Capitol in recent weeks.
Budget writers are already meeting in both the House and Senate, putting us ahead of previous efforts to write the biennial budget. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I remain optimistic that we can complete a budget within the 105-day legislative session. With revenue up $3 billion, the state has the means to fund its obligations without raising taxes.
I believe we deserve a government that is efficient and effective. By reforming government operations, I believe we can achieve this goal. As the ranking member on the House General Government and Information Technology Committee, I am committed to finding inefficiencies in the way government conducts its business. With oversight of 68 state agencies, this committee plays a critical role in ensuring our tax dollars are spent wisely.
To help achieve that, I have introduced bills to reform government operations, and am happy to report they are receiving public hearings and moving through the legislative process. I introduced House Bill 1358 to end the practice of bonding sales tax on transportation projects. This bill is awaiting a vote in the House Transportation Committee, and I am hopeful it will come before the full House for a vote this session.
I also introduced House Bill 1357, which would eliminate the Certificate of Need requirement for kidney dialysis centers. Many in rural districts like ours have to travel long distances to receive treatment, which adds to the cost of receiving treatment, and is a burden on patients and caregivers alike. A Certificate of Need is issued by the state Department of Health after a lengthy and costly application process. This adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to our health care system, and in turn, drives up costs. This bill is scheduled for a vote in the Health Care Committee, and I am looking forward to getting it passed on to the House floor.
Another reform bill I introduced is House Bill 1749, due to concerns brought to me by a group of constituents. This legislation would eliminate the requirement for people who undertake work on their own homes for the purposes of resale, known a “property flipping,” to register with the Department of Labor and Industries as a contractor. This policy was designed simply to raise revenue through fees and fines, and it ties up investigative and administrative resources at Labor and Industries. This fix will give people more flexibility to make improvements to their property. It is scheduled for a vote in committee next week, and I look forward to it moving on to the full House.
I also introduced another bill, House Bill 1930, to reform additional practices at the Department of Labor and Industries. Last year, a complaint against the Western Hockey League (WHL) alleged member clubs were violating the Minimum Wage Act, which launched a lengthy, costly and unnecessary investigation. There are currently a number of exemptions to the Minimum Wage Act on the books, and my bill would include amateur athletes among those exempted. Hundreds of amateur athletes play in the WHL. These young athletes receive invaluable training and educational opportunities, including college scholarships. And, many go on to play professionally. By unnecessarily targeting WHL clubs, it could jeopardize the future of countless youth who want to pursue this career path, as well as those who rely on these organizations for employment. This bill is scheduled for a vote in committee next week as well.
For years we have been hearing about the need for meaningful tax reform in Washington state from both Democrats and Republicans. That is why next week I will be introducing the largest reform to the Business and Occupation tax in our states history. In order to remain a leader nationally and a competitor globally, we must have a 21st century tax code that is fairer, flatter and more flexible. I look forward to sharing more details with you in the coming days!
It is an honor to represent you in Olympia, and I look forward to hearing from you on issues important to our communities!