Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is an honor to be back at the state Capitol, representing the citizens of our great 17th Legislative District!
The 2019 legislative session opened Monday, Jan. 14. This year's session is scheduled for 105-days, as lawmakers work to create a two-year state operating budget.
A BUDGET YEAR
On the first day of session, the House Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed $54.4 billion budget. The governor is proposing to increase spending by 22 percent over the current budget. To pay for this increase, he wants to increase business and occupation taxes, real estate excise taxes, and implement a capital gains income tax.
Many, including myself, are opposed to these taxes and believe a capital gains income tax is unconstitutional. We don't need to take an additional $3.6 billion in taxes from hard-working taxpayers. State government is already flush with money. Washington state will collect over $4 billion more in taxes for 2019-21 as compared to the current budget cycle — as a result of a strong economy.
COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS AND LEADERSHIP
In December, prior to session, I was issued my committee assignments. This year, I am serving on four committees, including: Appropriations, Education, College and Workforce Development, and I am in a new leadership role as the ranking Republican on the Local Government Committee.
Serving on Local Government, I will be focused on accountability for the taxpayers. One area is to seek ways to reduce cost drivers, such as excessive growth management regulations and the onerous permitting process.
On Appropriations, I want to make sure we have more fiscal responsibility and a better understanding about the financial impact of a bill before it passes, rather than asking taxpayers to bail us out.
On Education, I think we need to really focus on improving student achievement. We also need to give the McCleary fix time to work, rather than trying to change it within less than a year of its implementation.
I'm very honored to bring your voice to these very important committees and to help influence policy.
YOUR PRIORITIES ARE MY PRIORITIES
I will be working on a variety of issues this session, but four in particular:
- Exploring options for a third bridge connector between Vancouver and Portland to address congestion relief on the I-5 corridor without requiring mass transit/light rail; (Read my letter to Gov. Inslee expressing my request that NO “light rail, light rail capable, or mass transit” be required “on any transportation project in Clark County, including the proposed I-5 bridge replacement project.)
- Reducing business and occupation taxes on small businesses and the frequency of tax filing;
- Targeting sex traffickers by increasing fines against those who sexually exploit minors; and
- House Bill 1082 – Requiring licensed massage therapists to carry a state-issued photo ID to protect certified therapists from non-valid practitioners. A hearing is scheduled on this bill Friday at 8 a.m. in the House Heath Care and Wellness Committee.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Many issues are coming before us that could affect the 17th District and your day-to-day life. I encourage you to follow closely through my website, e-newsletters and live broadcasts on TVW.org. Feel free to reach out with any ideas, thoughts or concerns you have on legislation or issues. I'm here fighting for you and want to hear from you, especially on your issues of concern. Call, write or email my office. If you're coming to Olympia, please let me know so we can meet while you're here. My contact information is below. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!