Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank those of you who joined myself and Rep. Kevin Parker for our telephone town hall last Thursday. At one point, we had more than 650 people on the call! We fielded some great questions – 18 in all during the hour – on everything from the legalization of recreational marijuana to economic growth and the gas tax proposal to education and everything in between. We are still returning voicemails that were left after the call.
I’ll be hosting another telephone town hall on Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. if you were unable to join us for this recent call. More information to come.
Last week, I spoke with Rick Rydell on KXLY about a couple of the bills I’ve been working on. I encourage you to listen to the interview here.
Governor proposes closing tax exemptions to increase education funding
Yesterday, the governor introduced a proposal to increase education funding by $200 million for the current two-year budget by repealing several tax exemptions:
- the sales tax exemption for vehicle trade-ins valued more than $10,000;
- the public utility tax deduction for the in-state portion of interstate transportation;
- the exemption for extracted fuel;
- the sales tax exemption for out-of-state shoppers (while requiring them to apply for a refund);
- the sales tax exemption on bottled water;
- the sales tax exemption for janitorial services; and
- the reduced business and occupation tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs.
If any of these sound familiar, it’s because they were also on the chopping block last year. If they sound inconsequential and unlikely to affect you, that is by design. Unfortunately, repealing these exemptions will have very real impacts on jobs and the cost of doing business in Washington. People working as janitors can tell you about the risk to their job when they have to charge their clients more. And families with poor drinking water or who regularly enjoy the great outdoors can tell you what it means to pay more for bottled water. I’m disappointed the governor did not come up with a more thoughtful, balanced approach to education funding.
As I said in my last e-mail, this is a supplemental budget year – we must look at education funding seriously next year when we set the next two-year budget. For now, we need to find out the impacts of the additional $1 billion the Legislature appropriated for education funding for the 2013-15 budget cycle.
Legislation I’m working on
- House Bill 2491 to allow county treasurers to host foreclosed property sales online is expected to receive a public hearing this week.
- House Bill 2690 would help those who are unemployed stay connected to the job market and their community by requiring two hours of community service for each week of unemployment benefits they receive. This idea was brought to myself and Sen. Michael Baumgartner by high schoolers who wanted to create an atmosphere where people looking for jobs can serve their community while networking and hopefully more quickly find work again quickly. Read more about the bill here.
- House Bill 2732 would require that tax revenues from the legalization of recreational marijuana be distributed to local law enforcement efforts. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich led the effort on this and rightfully so. I’m proud to sponsor this bill to ensure we get the funds needed, especially in Spokane, to address additional crime that will undoubtedly occur with making pot legal.
- House Bill 1902 would allow people to apply for a special license plate, and pay a one-time fee, for trailers they use rarely or for recreational purposes. This bill would make it much more convenient for trailer owners. You can read more about it here. The bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee last week and is now in the House Rules Committee to possibly be placed on the schedule to receive a vote by the full House. I sponsored this legislation last year, but it is still alive in this second year of the two-year legislative cycle. I’m hopeful we can get it passed this year.
I appreciate hearing from you – please don’t hesitate to contact my office anytime with questions, comments or concerns. It’s a great honor to serve as your representative.