Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Yesterday afternoon, without any prior notice, Gov. Jay Inslee held a press conference to announce he is calling lawmakers back to Olympia tomorrow, Nov. 7, for a special session to pass legislation that would help the state's aviation industry.
While the governor had previously suggested calling a special session for sometime in November to pass a transportation tax package, his announcement yesterday came as a complete surprise to most of us. In fact, Sen. Ann Rivers and I had scheduled a town hall meeting for this coming Saturday in Camas. Because of the special session, we have been forced to cancel the town hall meeting and we're looking to find another time to reschedule it. Read our press release here.
Inslee says Boeing 777x contract hinges on legislative action; Machinists say, no, it doesn't!
Some background might be helpful for you to understand why we're having a special session this week. Boeing and its workers who are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have tentatively agreed to a contract that would ensure the manufacturing work of the Boeing's 777X is completed in Washington state. The workers are scheduled to vote next week whether or not to ratify the contract.
In his special session announcement, Inslee said, “The Boeing Company has assured me that if the union approves that contract and the Legislature approves the package that I will propose to them, the Triple 7X and its carbon fiber wing will be built in the state of Washington.”
This afternoon, the governor lost some of the wind in his sails when the Machinists union told The Seattle Times its contract approval does not hinge on the Legislature taking action. Read the story here.
Will governor use 777x contract to leverage support for gas tax increase?
First on the governor's proposal to keep the 777x contract is the passage of a transportation tax package. While we don't yet know the specifics of this proposal, an earlier transportation revenue package that did not clear the Legislature at the end of the second special session in June would have increased the state's gas tax by more than 10 cents a gallon – placing Washington as the state with the highest gas tax in the nation. Most citizens have told me they cannot afford such a large increase at the gas pumps.
Since June, Inslee has been scrambling to find support for his state gasoline tax increase with not much success. By linking Boeing's commitment to stay in Washington to the transportation tax increase, the governor could attempt to leverage that support from lawmakers. I join with many of my fellow lawmakers who will not be boxed in this corner. While we may support other items on the agenda that he mentioned, such as streamlined permitting, tax incentives that would help the aerospace industry, and workforce development investments, the issue of raising taxes on citizens is a much too critical issue to force through the Legislature in just a few days.
The Washington Trucking Association also contacted me last week to say support for a transportation revenue package among its members is “rapidly eroding.” They point to concerns of the cost they may have to bear as part of the governor's cap and trade proposal, which could include a carbon tax, increased taxes on petroleum product users for stormwater treatment, a 5 percent biodiesel mandate, and other unknown financial impacts related to climate change legislation. So even some of the most ardent supporters for transportation improvements are dropping off the list.
As of this afternoon, no meetings have been scheduled for the House Transportation Committee. So whether a transportation tax package becomes part of the end product of this special session remains to be seen.
Transparency in government
I'm also very concerned that this last-minute special session and the governor's proposed legislation (that none of us have yet seen) violates transparency in government that is so important to the citizens of our state. Please click here to read my press release statement regarding the special session.
In his blog this morning, Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, also discussed his concerns about transparency and a reminder of Senate and House rules which require advance notice of legislation. Read his comments here.
Governor and Attorney General looks to give Oregon complete control of Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project
In the press conference, Inslee told reporters that the Columbia River Crossing project would not be part of the transportation revenue package. You may recall in September, the attorney general's office wrote a letter essentially giving the state of Oregon the “green light” to proceed on the project, along with light rail, without Washington's involvement. Last month, I joined in a letter signed by 25 other House Republicans asking the governor not to allow Washington state agencies to cede control of our portion of the CRC project to the state of Oregon. You can read our CRC letter here.
We need to fix the system BEFORE we fund it – Watch our video!
My House Republican colleagues and I are very concerned about throwing more money at a broken transportation system. When we've got ferry runs cancelled because workers don't show up, ramps built in the wrong place and have to be removed, workers drinking on the job, pontoons that leak on the 520 bridge project in Seattle, and the Alaskan Way tunneling project shut down for days because of a dispute over jobs, these are inexcusable problems. Also, the CRC project has been a complete nightmare! We need accountability in the system and reforms enacted BEFORE the Legislature asks you for more money.
This week, House Republicans made that message clear in a video that was distributed statewide. I highly encourage you to watch it and then take my transportation survey below.
Take my Transportation Survey
I want to know what you think about increasing the gas tax, holding a special session, and the Columbia River Crossing project. Please take my Transportation Survey and let me know how you feel: www.surveymonkey.com/s/PikeTranspoSurvey.
While I am concerned with the governor's expectation to push ahead on his agenda in just a few days time, I will say that if we are able to take steps to improve our state's business climate, that would be a significant accomplishment. Let's make sure, however, that we do it right – and with full transparency involving public debate.
As always, I invite your comments, questions and input. Please respond to my e-mail address: email@example.com. For your convenience, I maintain a district office at 415 N.E. Cedar Street, Suite A, in Camas. The telephone number is (360) 210-4117.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve as your state representative. Together, we can protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"