Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are in week four of the legislative session. It was great to get Hirst and the capital budget through the legislative process and signed by the governor early in the session. With that, my attention has turned to some bills I am working on.
Time to reduce property taxes
Some taxpayers can expect temporary, higher property tax bills due to changes in state education funding. However, they should not have to. I have introduced House Bill 2303 to provide some state property tax relief.
With four years of record revenue increases – four years in a row – it's time to give some back. The bill would reduce the initial increase of the state property tax without changing the education funding formula, or reducing education funding. There have been a number of reports in the media across the state about increasing property taxes. This is a high priority for Republicans this session. It has bipartisan support. You will recall the governor saying in July he was not pleased with how the property tax changes would impact owners. Now we have a chance to do something about it. You can listen to my audio news release here.
My bills related to electric vehicles and semis have both had public hearings. Because they have fiscal implications, they could still be considered up until the end of session. We continue to work on both issues.
House Bill 2339 – would authorize a sales tax exemption worth up to $10,000 for buyers of electric truck tractors (semis). As a Legislature we have encouraged the buying and leasing of clean alternative fuel vehicles. This bill extends the incentive for our big trucks and commercial fleets to go electric. The bill already had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee.
House Bill 2340 – would extend the sales tax exemption for electric cars to the sale of the first 10,000 cars sold. The current cap is 7,500 and car sales are expected to hit that cap in the next couple months. The House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on the bill earlier this week.
You can never be too careful in today's world. You never know who is seeking what information and for what purpose. Jon Andrews, a constituent and president of the Pacific Northwest chapter of the International Society of Explosive Engineers, pointed out that the Department of Labor and Industries collects the names and addresses of those who handle explosives, as well as the information on the location of the explosives' magazines. The information is available to the public. My House Bill 2774 would exempt that information from public disclosure and keep that information from falling into the wrong hands.
Jon Andrews with Rep. Cary Condotta.
Tow truck operators
We have an efficiency bill for our registered tow truck operators who have licenses to conduct other business with their tow truck. Under current law, tow truck operators may have up to four sets of license plates on the vehicle – one for vehicle registration and up to three other sets depending on the business. This legislation, House Bill 2612, would allow for one license plate with indicators tabs. The bill is expected to pass out of the House of Representatives in the next few days.
Jury duty exemption for seniors
A constituent in his 70s came to me and expressed how difficult it would be for him to serve on a jury. We researched the issue and found out 34 states have exemptions in place from jury service. Some states allow anyone over a certain age to be permanently exempt; other states allow seniors to be excused from serving if they are called. Some states require notice in writing; other states have a box the senior can check on the jury summons form.
Under my House Bill 1945, any person age 70 or older may choose to be excused from jury service due to age. There are 21 states who use 70 as the exempt age for jury service. The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the bill. It did not make it out of committee before cutoff. We may revisit this issue next year.
There is a lot happening in the Methow region. We secured $750,000 for the Twisp Civic Building in the capital budget that passed a couple weeks ago.
We are also working to ensure that funding is secured for the Red Shirt Mill cleanup. It is one flood away from a serious water quality issues on the Methow River. I have been to meetings, participated in a tour and sent letters of support. We are working hard to get this done.
I am supporting the proposed administrative withdrawal of United States Forest Service land in the headwaters region of the Methow Valley from mineral entry and exploration. We need to protect the valley's unique character and the value of its ecological and recreational resources. We all enjoy the beauty and pristine nature of the Methow Valley. This will ensure we can continue to do so for years to come.
If you have any questions about these bills or any others before the Legislature please do not hesitate to contact me.
I am honored to represent the 12th District.