Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2018 legislation session is underway. It seems the main thing all legislators agree on is – let's keep the session to 60 days.
Two weeks and a lot has happened already. In this email update I will touch on the Hirst-capital budget agreement, the governor's carbon tax, talk about a few bills I am working on, and the latest on the fuel tax stickers you may be seeing popping up on fuel pumps around the state.
Governor Inslee's carbon tax
During the State of the State address Gov. Inslee unveiled the details of his carbon tax plan which would continue his battle against climate change.
His plan would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton beginning July, 2019. I question why he would tax our power, as Washington state has some of the cleanest power in the country and across the globe. The fact is, this plan does very little to reduce carbon. We should be concentrating on the transportation sector which is what I am doing with House Bill 2339 and House Bill 2340. This approach is far less costly and will have much better results.
This bill is about revenue. The tax would increase by 3 and a half percent each year, plus inflation. It is projected to raise $1.5 billion over the first two years, and $3.3 billion over four years. The citizens of Washington will pay the price even though they are not taxed directly under his proposal. According to the governor's own staff we could see a 4-5 percent increase in electricity, 10 percent increase on natural gas, and anywhere from 6-9 percent on fuel, which amounts to about 18 cents a gallon.
The good news is, I do not see this proposal passing. He would need 100 percent support from his party and there are some Democrats not ready to support it.
After extensive negotiations and with the leadership of the House Republican Caucus, a Hirst agreement has been reached by Republicans, Democrats and the governor. I supported the bill, Senate Bill 6091. It has passed both chambers and awaits the governor's signature. He has said he will sign it.
It grandfathers in existing wells and removes the mandate the state Supreme Court imposed on counties to find legal, available water. This would have been a huge burden, especially for small counties with limited resources and funds.
The legislation should also clear up some of the uncertainty and doubt surrounding the court's decision. The Department of Ecology (DOE) will create concise charts for county planners so we know what is being required under water law.
Because we already have instream flows in Chelan County and the Methow Valley we should not much change in those areas.
Finally, there is also $300 million in the capital budget for instream flow and watershed planning projects, financed over 15 years.
With the Hirst agreement we were able to pass the capital budget which includes significant projects throughout the 12th District.
2018 session legislation
Here are a few of my prime-sponsored bills.
House Bill 2303 – would reduce the state property tax. We have enough revenue to do this. We have had so much prosperity in the last four years we should give some back to the hardworking taxpayers of our state. The bill would reduce the initial increase of the state property tax without changing the education funding formula, or reducing education funding.
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 has 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.
House Bill 2560 – would authorize Chelan County to change its comprehensive plan once, and allow them to use an ordinance or development regulations to determine the affordability index and subsequent development outside of designated urban growth areas for up to two years. Affordable housing is an issue across the state. This would give us another tool to try and address that problem.
House Bill 2563 – would require liquor retail stores to price liquor with all taxes (except sales tax) included. This would stop certain stores from their deceptive pricing practices.
Fuel tax sticker shock
Are you shocked by the fuel taxes we pay at the pump? If so, the chances are you have seen one of the stickers displaying fuel tax rates on the pump.
In an effort to shed more light on the fuel taxes paid by consumers I was able to get legislation passed in the transportation budget to require the sticker to be placed on all fuel pumps around the state, displaying current federal and state fuel tax rates.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures Division has begun affixing the tax stickers. It is a good tax transparence measure. I don't think many people realize the state gas tax is 49.4 cents a gallon and we have the second highest overall gas tax in the nation at 67.8 cents. (REMINDER: The governor's carbon tax would add another 18 cents!)
Follow the Legislature and keep in touch
There are a number of ways you can keep your eye on Olympia during the legislative session. Below are some links and websites to follow my work, as well as the Legislature. These links are good resources to stay involved in your state government.
- Capitol Buzz: A daily electronic clip service from media outlets – newspaper, radio, television – from around the state on a variety of topics. Click here to subscribe.
- SoundCloud: My weekly three-minute radio program, or podcast, on important issues I am working on in Olympia. Click here to listen to current and previous podcasts. You can also listen via iTunes and Google Play.
- Check out my Website: www.representativecarycondotta.com. Here you follow the bills I have sponsored and view my news releases as well as current and past e-newsletters.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
If you would like to get in touch with me with any questions, thoughts or concerns or if you are going to be in Olympia, please don't hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com or give me a call at (360) 786-7954. I look forward to hearing from you!