Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's Day 44 and seven weeks into the scheduled 105-day regular session. Last Friday marked our first major deadline of this year's session. It was house of origin policy cutoff. Policy-only bills that did not make it out of their respective policy committees by that date are considered “dead” for the session.
This coming Friday, March 1, is the first fiscal cutoff. All fiscal-related bills must be passed by that date from their fiscal committees in their house of origin, or they're also considered “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the budget are exempt from the cutoffs.
You can view the entire session cutoff calendar here.
Many Kraft bills are still alive
I'm pleased to report that despite the first cutoff, a number of my bills remain and are advancing through the process. Here's a quick status report:
- House Bill 1738 – Tax return filing thresholds: This measure would reduce business and occupation taxes on our small businesses and allow them to keep more of their own money. The bill would increase the business and occupation tax annual gross receipts filing threshold to $56,000 for service businesses and $35,000 for all other businesses. Awaiting further action in the House Finance Committee.
- House Bill 1836 – Child sex crimes/fee waivers: Originally, this measure would have added a mandatory $5,000 fee to the end user who is convicted of committing sex trafficking offenses with a minor. The measure was amended so that the mandatory fee of those convicted is $3,500. However, it would give judges the discretion to increase that fee up to $7,500. Passed the House Public Safety Committee. In the House Rules Committee, awaiting to be pulled for a vote on the House floor.
- House Bill 1736 – Adaptive agriculture equipment: This would help disabled veterans by providing a sales and use tax exemption of up to $10,000 annually on adaptive agricultural equipment for veterans and service members with a service-connected disability and farm owners who employ a veteran or service member with a disability. Adaptive equipment is modified to assist physically-challenged persons to operate the equipment. Passed the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee. A public hearing was held today in the House Finance Committee.
- House Bill 1082 – Massage therapists – Photo ID: Unfortunately, there are establishments in our area and across the state that may look like a massage or reflexology business on the outside, but inside, sex trafficking is actually taking place. This measure would reduce sex trafficking by requiring a massage or reflexology therapist to carry their driver's license or enhanced ID on or near their person while at work. That way, law enforcement could verify the therapist's certification matches the photo ID and that they're a legitimate practitioner. Read more about this bill and the background behind it in my news release. Passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. On second reading, awaiting a vote on the House floor.
- House Bill 2087 – Retired farmers/property tax: This measure would allow retired farmers, those seeking to retire, or those who are disabled, to remove their land from current use status without being subject to penalty or interest. Watch a video I did last year that explains the story behind this bill. This measure had a hearing today in the House Finance Committee. I'm hopeful action is taken on the bill before the end of this week.
- House Bill 1583 – Mosquito control districts: This bill would help taxpayers by updating a 60-year-old law that requires county treasurers to begin foreclosure actions on real property after two years of unpaid mosquito control district assessments. In Clark County, the average assessment is about $3.87 per year, which means the county could begin to foreclose on property for a missed payment of only $7.60. This bill would extend the delinquency period of unpaid assessments from two years to three years. Passed the House Local Government Committee. In the House Rules Committee, awaiting to be pulled for a vote on the House floor.
- House Bill 1835 – Additional Washington/Oregon bridge: This measure would reduce traffic congestion on the I-5 corridor by adding more highway lanes with a third bridge or similar connection. The bill would provide $300,000 to hire an independent consultant to evaluate current options for an additional bridge or other connection west of I-5 between Southwest Washington and Oregon. This would help us move ahead with an option that would be more effective toward reducing traffic for commuters and freight than just replacing the I-5 bridge. I wrote extensively about this bill and why we need a third bridge in my last email update. The bill sits in the House Transportation Committee. Unfortunately, no action is scheduled at this time.
- House Bill 1737 – Utility service annexation: This bill would preserve homeowner's rights to choose whether to be annexed. Some cities have made it so that if you, the homeowner, sign an agreement for utility services, such as water, you've automatically opted in for future city annexation. This would prohibit that in the contract and preserve homeowner's annexation choice. Died in the House Local Government Committee.
- House Bill 2060 – Non-uniform voting practices: This measure would make sure all counties conduct election practices in a uniform manner to prevent unfair advantages or disadvantages. King County decided to provide prepaid postage for election ballots, while other counties did not make this same choice. I believe our elections process should be the same across the state. Died in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.
- House Bill 2088 – Crime of indecent exposure: This measure would expand the existing indecent exposure law to include restrooms of opposite sex. If a biological male is in a women's bathroom intentionally and obscenely exposing himself, this bill would allow indecent exposure charges to be filed. The same applies if a biological female is in a men's restroom doing the same exposure. The first offense is a gross misdemeanor. Died in the House Public Safety Committee.
- House Bill 2089 – Higher education transparency: Many of us wonder why college tuition is so costly. This bill is designed to ensure transparency of higher education costs and tuition. It would require the state universities, regional universities and the state college submit revenue and expenditure information, including information detailing the yearly operating budgets, to the state's Education Data Center. That information would then be made available online on the higher education organization's website for the public. Died in the House College and Workforce Development Committee.
- House Bill 2090 – Balanced budget/vetoes: Here's a scenario: The Legislature spends the session writing, debating and passing an operating budget that then goes to the governor at the end of the session. With a stroke of a pen, the governor could do a sectional veto that places the budget out of balance. Meantime, the Legislature has adjourned and the state budget remains out of balance. The Legislature is supposed to provide a balanced budget over a period of four years. I think the governor should be held to the same standard. The bill I've proposed says that if the governor vetoes something in the budget, he or she must make sure it stays balanced over a four-year period. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee.
Your voice counts!
After the fiscal cutoff this Friday, our time and attention will be turned to the House floor, where we will be voting on hundreds of bills that came out of their respective committees. Many of these measures could, in some way, affect your life. That's why it is so important that I hear from you. Please call or write my office in Olympia with your concerns and comments. I enjoy hearing from you. You'll find my contact information below. It is an honor serving you!