Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After several months of tough negotiations, lawmakers approved the state's two-year construction budget. As you know, the capital budget provides funding for infrastructure needs across Washington State, including the 17th District.
As a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, I worked hard with my colleagues to put together a good plan in 2017. The delay in approving the budget meant we had do even more hard work to ensure what we fought for stayed in the plan. With the exception of a few minor changes, I'm proud to say we were able to keep our state's infrastructure priorities intact.
Update | Capital budget is approved by the Legislature
The newly approved capital budget prioritizes the construction of K-12 school projects with $933 million allocated for the School Construction Assistance Program. These funds will help address a record number of local school bond levy needs across the state. An additional $35 million is set aside for small, rural district modernization grants.
Working with my colleagues on the committee, I was able to ensure some important local projects are funded in the newly approved plan, including the much-needed funding for the DayBreak Youth Center for Adolescent Recovery and WSU Vancouver's Life Sciences Building.
I'm pleased to announce the following list of local projects for the 17th Legislative District:
- DayBreak Youth Center for Adolescent Recovery – $3 million
- Cascadia Tech Academy – $609,000
- Sea Mar Dental Clinic Capacity – $167,000
- WSU Vancouver Life Sciences Building – $500,000
Update | A solution for Hirst
As I've shared with you previously, the state Supreme Court's Hirst decision halted rural development in many parts of the state. For over a year, members of the Legislature have been working on a solution that would allow rural homeowners to rely on pre-Hirst decision rules to authorize new wells to be built and have adequate daily water supply for their living needs.
Late Thursday, the House approved a bipartisan solution for this water-rights issue. The bill removes the burden imposed by the court on rural landowners and counties to find legal availability of water. Now, they can once again rely on the pre-Hirst guidelines. This is a huge win for our rural communities across the state.
What the bill does:
- It “grandfathers” in existing wells as a legally adequate water supply to obtain a building permit.
- It allows rural counties to rely on the pre-Hirst decision rules to manage the water without the homeowner or the county doing an independent analysis of water availability before a permit is issued.
- It ensures homeowners living rural areas will have the daily amount of water supply they need.
- It implements two new planning processes, which did not exist before, to help meet the future water usage needs for certain areas of the state.
- It guarantees Clark County rural residents can continue building. They can put a well on their property and obtain a permit, as they did prior the Hirst case.
Senate Bill 6091 was approved by the House 66-30, 2 excused and the Senate with a vote of 35-14, 0 excused.
This extraordinary accomplishment will benefit rural property owners, business developers and help bolster rural economic development for decades to come. Now, developers and property-owners can build and grow our communities knowing their water rights are protected.
Update | Small business legislation
My bill to ease tax return thresholds (HB 2350) will help small businesses keep more of their money by reducing the amount of annual gross income a business needs to report to DOR. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on Finance, Thursday, Jan. 25 at 10:00am. This legislation would allow most businesses with an annual income less than $35,000 not to have to file a tax return. The current exemption threshold is only $12,000. This change will reduce financial and administrative burdens on these smaller companies as they work to grow their business.
As I shared previously, my bill (HB 2351) will help small businesses by reducing the frequency of B&O tax filing for businesses with an estimated annual tax liability of $99,999 or less. It will allow these business owners to file the taxes annually or quarterly instead of monthly. By reducing some of these reporting requirements, it will allow employers more time to focus on making their businesses successful and less time on paperwork. I'm hopeful we will get a hearing for this bill in the next few days.
Staying connected to your state Legislature
There are a number of ways to stay in touch with your state Legislature. Each Friday afternoon an audio clip called the Capitol Calendar is available for up to date information on events at the Capitol.
During the legislative session, I will be sending out frequent email updates such as this one to keep you informed of the activities in the Legislature. If you know anyone else who would like to receive this communication, please tell them to go to my website and sign-up for my updates.
When you visit my website, you can also see the bills I've sponsored and co-sponsored by clicking “Sponsored Bills” on my page.
Of course, the easiest way to let me know how you feel about issues before the Legislature is to contact me at my office. You can reach me by calling (360) 786-7994 or sending an email to email@example.com.
Here are some other helpful links you can access through your computer, smart phone or tablet:
- The Capitol Buzz | A weekday round-up of online news stories. Click on the link to subscribe.
- The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans. Click on the link to subscribe.
- My legislative website | Please consider bookmarking my legislative website at: www.RepresentativeVickiKraft.com. Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, e-mail updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills and other information.
- My SoundCloud audio page | You can listen to my radio interviews from this site.
- TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- Legislature's website | You can find bill reports, committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
- Capitol Campus activities and events | Find a calendar of events here.
- Legislative Hotline | 1-800-562-6000.
- State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards and commissions here.
I encourage you to reach out if you have any questions, or want to know what's happening with a specific bill. If you are planning a trip to Olympia, feel free to stop by or call ahead to schedule a meeting with me. My direct contact information is below. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia!