Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Thursday, I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting from 6-7 p.m. During the call, I'll provide a short update on this year's legislative session and then spend the rest of the hour taking questions. If you would like to participate, please call (360) 209-6593 anytime between 6-7 p.m. on Thursday.
If you're unable to join the call, I welcome you to send me an email or give me a call at your convenience. My email address is Drew.MacEwen@leg.wa.gov, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902.
All Washington counties now in Phase 3
On March 4, House and Senate Republicans released our Open Safe, Open Now plan, which proposed immediately moving all Washington counties to Phase 3. We also proposed the following:
- All children in grades K-12 would immediately return to the classroom for in-person instruction.
- School districts would implement safety protocols provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Hospitality businesses and public venues statewide, such as restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, museums, libraries, and other entertainment venues, would open to 50% capacity.
- Bars and restaurants would stop serving alcohol and close at midnight.
- State parks and other state agencies whose function is tourism/recreation would resume bookings for day-use and overnight facilities at 50% capacity.
- Indoor weddings and indoor religious services would open to 50% capacity.
- Professional services would open to 50% capacity.
The plan generated a lot of attention from the press, as well as from the governor, who derided it as “not a serious proposal.” Just one week later, however, he announced a statewide move to Phase 3.
It serves as another example as to why so many people are fed up with politics. The governor could've chosen to work with us, but instead chose divisiveness. All to come back a week later and implement many of the things we proposed.
As of yesterday, all Washington counties are now in Phase 3. Guidelines have been posted on the state's official coronavirus website. Click here for details.
Latest revenue forecast should end any talk of new taxes
Last week, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its latest state revenue forecast. While the pandemic has wreaked havoc on families and businesses here in the 35th and all across Washington, state tax collections have continued to increase. Tax revenue for the 2021-23 biennium is now projected to be $56.6 billion, an increase of 8.2% over the current biennium. Furthermore, our state is projected to have a $3 billion budget surplus by the middle of this year. It is my hope those of us in the minority can convince our friends in the majority that there is absolutely no reason to raise taxes this session. These latest revenue numbers prove we can fund our state's needs and priorities without asking for more from you and your family.
As lawmakers, we need to be doing everything we can to ensure Washington's economic recovery continues. That means keeping tax burdens low and ensuring our state remains an attractive place to raise a family, start a business, or retire. If we pass an income tax on capital gains this session, not only will we be hurting small business owners and those planning for retirement, but we will also be eliminating one of our state's biggest competitive advantages. Worst of all, we will be paving the way for a statewide income tax.
The vehicle for the income tax on capital gains is Senate Bill 5096. It was approved 25-24 in the Senate and is now in the House Finance Committee. I'll keep you posted on its progress.
House approves HB 1480
Late last month, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill I've sponsored to extend a number of curbside, takeout and delivery privileges that have been granted to liquor licensees in order to help them stay in business. The extension in House Bill 1480, which would last through July 1, 2023, would provide much-needed support and flexibility for licensees struggling with cash flow as a result of the pandemic. I'm grateful for the bipartisan support the bill has received and look forward to seeing it advance to the Senate floor in the coming days.
Reining in the governor's unilateral emergency powers
Many of you have contacted me this session to ask what can be done to limit the governor's ability to rule unilaterally when Washington is under a state of emergency. Last week, I introduced bipartisan legislation that would give the Legislature more direct involvement in future emergencies.
House Bill 1557 is currently in the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.
Gorst corridor improvements must become a priority for the Legislature
I recently submitted a $414 million transportation budget request to improve safety and address congestion and capacity issues along the SR 3/SR 16 Gorst corridor. The Federal Emergency Management Agency classifies the Gorst area as a chokepoint that “becomes impassable with any minor or major impact, including high-winds, floods, and car accidents.” Even without these impacts, tens of thousands of commuters, as well as commercial truck drivers and military personnel, are getting stuck on the corridor daily.
If we fail to address the issues and deficiencies in this critical transportation corridor, our local communities, the Kitsap economy, and significant U.S. strategic military missions will continue to be at risk.
For a list of projects that would be funded through my budget request, click here.
Weekly interviews on iFIBER One News Radio KMAS
Every week, I join iFIBER One News Radio KMAS to provide an update on the legislative session. You can listen to those interviews on my SoundCloud page, which you can navigate to by clicking on the image below.
Contacting me and staying involved in the legislative process
Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Drew.MacEwen@leg.wa.gov, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902.
I also encourage you to stay involved in the legislative process by following House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, visiting The Ledger, and utilizing the resources listed in this document. Finally, please bookmark my legislative website, where you can find all of my public communications.
It is an honor to serve you. I hope to chat with you on Thursday!