Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In this very difficult year, I hope the holidays have been a source of joy for you and your loved ones. As we head into the new year, I wanted to send a quick email update to fill you in on the economic relief bills I recently introduced in advance of the upcoming 105-day legislative session. Before I do, however, I first want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue serving you in the Legislature. It is an honor and a privilege to represent you in Olympia.
2021 legislative session begins Jan. 11
While I'm glad we're finally nearing the start of the 2021 legislative session, I'm also disappointed we weren't called into a special session earlier this year by Gov. Inslee. For months, House Republicans implored the governor to call a special session so we could provide relief for Washington families and businesses. We were hoping to work collaboratively with him and the majority party on a number of proposals—each with public health as a priority—we believe would have made a real difference. Unfortunately, the governor decided to act unilaterally, dismissing any and all calls for legislative participation. As a result, families across the state have continued to suffer while thousands of businesses have shuttered—many permanently.
To make matters worse, the governor recently proposed new and higher taxes on Washington families, including an income tax on capital gains. I struggle to understand how he and the majority party can continue advocating for a tax-and-spend approach that has been nothing short of disastrous.
In March 2019, I said the following on the House floor:
“I hope we still have some good economic growth ahead of us and that in future budgets, including next year's supplemental, we can increase that ending fund balance so that we can weather this storm that is coming. It's the natural economic cycle, you have booms and you have busts, and no president, no governor can stop that. Those things are going to happen, and we need to be able to put ourselves in a position where we can we can weather those storms.
As we go forward, as we go to conference with the other body, let's see what we can do to put ourselves in a better financial shape. But for these reasons tonight, I am voting no. And it is my word of caution, as it was a year ago, we have to be ready for what's coming that we cannot control.”
One year later, COVID-19 was at our doorstep.
In advance of the upcoming legislative session, I've introduced a package of economic relief bills I'm hoping will be approved quickly by the Legislature. Last month, I spoke with KING-5 News about my proposals:
House Bill 1011 would delay the payment date for liquor license renewals in order to help restaurants with existing cash flow.
House Bill 1012 would provide a $5,000 B&O tax credit for businesses. I'm also working on a second B&O tax relief proposal that I hope to unveil soon.
House Bill 1021 would prohibit increases to unemployment insurance rates. I recently spoke with a number of business owners who are already seeing 400-500% UI rate increases for 2021. It is critical we stop that from happening.
In addition to these bills, I've introduced another proposal that would phase in a shift of state sales tax on motor vehicles to pay for cash-based preservation and maintenance projects. I believe this would be a better way to add revenue to the transportation budget than implementing a new tax on miles driven.
As I told The Olympian, anything we can do to provide immediate relief for businesses must be done quickly. Too many businesses have already had to shut their doors. We must help our job creators stay afloat so they can keep Washingtonians employed and continue providing the goods and services we have all come to rely on. I have every confidence we can get this done while minimizing the financial impact to the operating budget. It needs to be among our top priorities when session begins Jan. 11.
If you have ideas for legislation that could help Washington families and businesses, please reach out to me. My email address is Drew.MacEwen@leg.wa.gov, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902.
I'll be back with another update in the new year. Until then, take care.