Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The days are going by fast in this short 60-day session. Tuesday was fiscal committee cutoff, which means any bills with a fiscal impact to the budget must pass out of appropriations committees. In addition, Friday, Feb. 2 was the cutoff for any bill that is policy related to get out of their respective committee, or it is considered “dead.”
Our next big deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 14, which is the last day to pass bills out of the original chamber they were introduced. These self-imposed legislative deadlines ensure each measure is fully scrutinized, and the process is kept on track. You can find an explanation of all legislative deadlines here.
Bill update | Key pieces of legislation
When I came to Olympia, I made a promise to promote and sponsor legislation that brings a higher level of accountability to state government. Accountability and fiscal responsibility need to be priorities, not afterthoughts. We send our dollars to Olympia with the expectation that they will be spent wisely. Disappointingly, this is not always happening.
WaTech is a consolidated technology agency that serves as the state's central IT organization. The state auditor's office recently reported WaTech is losing an average of $3-17 million per year. This in an unacceptable use of taxpayer's dollars.
Does any small business or big corporation set out to lose money? When businesses are not making a profit, they go out of business. We should not accommodate this mismanagement of the people's money. Our state government should pursue excellence in the services they provide to the people, including managing the funding that is given by taxpayers to provide those services.
House Bill 2404 would force WaTech to terminate service on lines of business that are incurring significant losses. Although this bill did not advance this session, I will continue developing this policy by working with key stakeholders to bring fiscal responsibility back to this agency. I'm planning on reintroducing this measure again next year.
Protecting homeowners rights | Changing the rules for annexation
Our district is growing. This growth has presented us with several challenges. For years, residents in our area have been frustrated with the annexation process. Annexation is the legal process by which property becomes part of a neighboring city, bringing it into a city limit boundary.
People chose to live in areas that fit their values and needs. When property is annexed, residents become subject to new zoning, ordinances, and taxes. This can not only disrupt lives, but has the potential to create economic hardship. For example, annexation can be difficult for seniors living on a fixed income.
The primary methods by which property can be annexed by a city leave many property owners with no real say in the process. City planners often site the need for full utilization of existing municipal resources and economic growth as reasons for annexation. However, effective growth for our area should not include forcing residential and rural area property owners to be annexed.
Before an area is annexed, residents should be given information on the potential benefits and costs. Residents should be allowed to make their own determination whether or not annexation is right for them. Property annexations should be done in a manner in which each property owner is given the opportunity for their voice to be heard by a majority vote or a petition process.
This year, I sponsored a bill to address the serious problems caused by Washington's statutes regarding annexation. House Bill 2789 would change annexation laws by requiring the support of the majority of the voters before annexing a city, town or unincorporated area. It also requires that local voters' pamphlets include information about annexation ballot measures, or, if a jurisdiction does not publish a local pamphlet, that the information would be included in the state voters' pamphlet.
My bill received a public hearing early in session and local citizens came to Olympia to testify in support of the bill. However, it did not move out of committee. In the coming months, I will meet with city, county and various other local representatives to discuss how we can improve the annexation process. After consolidating and re-drafting some of the language of the original bill, I'm looking at reintroducing this legislation in 2019.
Manufacturing tax credit | Fostering economic growth
In 2017, lawmakers put together a plan to lower our state's business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for manufacturers. The legislation would have given all manufacturers the same tax rate that Boeing and other aerospace companies already enjoy. The measure was included in the overall operating budget package approved by the Senate and the House. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed it. We need to do all we can to create a strong business economy and increase jobs in our state.
According to the state Employment Security Department, in the past 17 years manufacturing jobs have dropped by more than 51,000. We need these family-wage jobs. It is the responsibility of lawmakers to produce good tax policy that helps businesses grow and prosper. By lowering the tax rate we can provide an incentive for manufacturers to take their businesses to the next level, create jobs, and even relocate their businesses to our state.
That's why I co-sponsored a bill that would reinstate the same B&O tax rate for manufacturers originally agreed upon in the 2017 operating budget. House Bill 2393 would set the tax rate at .2904, the same preferential tax rate given aerospace manufacturers, including Boeing.
This is good public policy that deserves to move forward. The benefits of this B&O tax rate for manufacturers would result in billions in revenue growth and assure that thousands of family wage jobs are available for the next generation.
I encourage you to reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns about state government, or specific questions on a piece of legislation. If you are planning a trip to Olympia, feel free to call my office and schedule a time to meet with me. My contact information is listed below.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia.