Dear Friends and Neighbors,
“The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us. Business doesn't pay taxes, and who better than business to make this message known? Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business.”
With this in mind, let's talk about Gov. Jay Inslee's proposal. He calls it “closing loopholes,” “closing outdated and ineffective tax breaks,” and “raising revenue.” Let's call it what it really is: Raising taxes on the people of Washington state – more than $200 million through the remainder of this budget cycle and another $414 million in the 2015-17 biennium. Here are the seven tax exemptions Gov. Inslee announced last week he wants to repeal and my translation of what this will really mean to Washington citizens:
1. Repeal sales tax exemption for trade-ins valued over $10,000 – Translation: Tax hikes on used cars.
2. Repeal public utility tax deduction for in-state portion of interstate transportation – Translation: Tax hikes on truckers who ship your food and goods to the store.
3. Repeal use tax exemption for extracted fuel (except hog fuel) – Translation: Tax hikes on our fuel refineries, which supply jobs in Washington.
4. Refund state portion of sales tax to nonresidents – Translation: Creates a border tax that will prevent out-of-state shoppers from spending their money in Washington. This will hurt our small business owners in Clark County and keep Oregon shoppers in Oregon!
5. Repeal sales tax exemption on bottled water – Translation: You pay more for bottled water. Washingtonians repealed this tax in the 2010 General Election.
6. Repeal sales tax exemption for janitorial services – Translation: If you have janitorial services, you'll pay more to the government to have your toilet cleaned, your floors swept and vacuumed, and your trash removed.
7. Repeal preferential business and occupation tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs – Translation: You'll pay more for prescription drugs.
Many are the same tax increases the governor proposed last year that pushed the Legislature into two special sessions as it dealt with funding education. And yet, we approved a two-year budget that added an additional $1.6 billion to K-12 education WITHOUT increasing taxes, WITHOUT harming our fragile economy, and WITHOUT hurting the struggling families of Washington. I support funding education first in the budget before any other state programs. I've listened and learned a lot the past six months from my Education Kitchen Cabinet. (Read my September opinion editorial in The Columbian.) We are making progress in the funding of education and will continue to do so. But let's not send our economy into a tailspin with tax increases. My Business Kitchen Cabinet has also helped me to understand that if we can get government out of the way, keep taxes low, and work to have a better business climate, our economy will grow, people will have jobs, and our state's operating budget will improve so we can invest more in education. Now please read on for an update on some of our other important issues in the Legislature. As always, I welcome your comments. It is an honor to represent you, the citizens of the 18th District.
BILL REPORT: Pike bills advancing
- House Bill 2293 would provide legislative review over state agency rulemaking that often goes too far. It would add duties to the Joint Administrative Rules Review Committee (JARRC) to review any new agency rule when one of any of three triggers happen: At request of at least 15 legislators; At request of cities representing 50,000 residents; Or if there would be a $10 million statewide impact. The House Government Operations and Elections Committee is scheduled to take action on the bill this week.
- House Bill 2294 would increase highway littering penalties from $50 to $125 by changing littering from a Class 3 infraction to a Class 2 infraction. This measure passed unanimously from the House Environment Committee and is in the House Rules Committee awaiting action. Read the Capitol Record blog report on my bill.
- House Bill 2295 would limit industrial insurance benefits for injuries caused by use of intoxicating liquor or drugs in the workplace. Too often, workers don't take responsibility for their illegal behavior. Then they expect their employers to pay for their time loss benefits, when in fact it was their intoxication or drug use in the workplace that caused the accident in the first place. John Rudi, president of Thompson Metal Fab, Inc. in Vancouver, summed up the concerns very well in a letter: “The state takes driving a motor vehicle under the influence very seriously, as well they should. Penalties can range from jail to heavy fines. However, in the case of Labor and Industries, workers face no punitive actions. In fact, the state pays them while they recover! This makes absolutely no sense and I would argue that their actions under the influence are equally egregious.” Download the PDF and read his testimony. Watch my testimony in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. The committee may take action on the bill this week.
- House Bill 2296 would address duplicate signatures on petitions in cities, towns and code cities. This measure would clean up an unconstitutional component of local petition signature rules and put it in line with state law. Under this bill, all duplicate signatures would be counted once. This measure is awaiting action on the House floor. Read The Columbian's story on this.
- House Bill 2297 would change public facilities to include roadway, traffic and way-finding signage. This request legislation by our Cowlitz County Commissioners would assist our distressed counties by improving roadway signage, and thus increasing economic vitality to tourism areas. This is awaiting action on the House floor.
- House Bill 2298 would change the definition of capital projects to include technology infrastructure. This would allows cities and counties to use capital project money to pay for necessary security and technology attributes in their new police and fire stations. This bipartisan bill is also at the request of Cowlitz County Commissioners. This measure passed out of the House Local Government Committee.
- House Bill 2614 would establish a training wage for new employees who are learning on the job. The training period in which the wage is applicable is 680 hours. The amount would be 75 percent of the state's minimum wage or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. The measure had a hearing today in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee.
House Bill 2072 would require that at least 50 percent of compostable waste must be recycled in the same county where it is generated. This bill comes as a result of the city of Seattle signing a waste contract to compost their waste and ship it via diesel trucks to Kittitas County, even though Eastern Washington residents don't want it there. Several who testified were concerned about Eastern Washington being Seattle's dumping ground. If this can happen in Eastern Washington, which county will become the next dumping ground? The measure is awaiting action in the House Environment Committee.
House Bill 2148 would make Washington the first state in the nation to mandate abortion coverage by health insurers. It says to individuals, employers and health insurers that health plans in Washington must include abortion coverage, regardless of their beliefs on abortion. It would end choice for individuals because it would not allow them to choose a health plan without abortion coverage. Women are smart enough to decide for themselves whether they want a health insurance plan that covers abortion. This is not a partisan issue. I know many men and women, regardless of party affiliation in the 18th District who believe in the sanctity of life. They do not want to be forced to buy policies which go against their conscience. This is not a good bill!
Initiative 594 would require background checks whenever a firearm is sold or transferred between licensed dealers or private parties, with few exceptions. Any sale or transfer of a firearm must be completed through a dealer. If you gave a firearm to your son, a brother or other family member, the proposed law would require them to have a background check or be in violation. It would criminalize law-abiding citizens. I am opposed to this measure. Supporters say they want to “close the gun show loophole.” However, there is no such thing. Only 1 percent of guns sold at gun shows in Washington have been involved in criminal activity. It is the other 99 percent of law-abiding people who would be targeted by this initiative. There is also an opposing measure, Initiative 591, which would prevent the state from adopting universal background checks during gun sales. I expect the Legislature will not take action on either initiatives, which would mean they would go to the November general election ballot for voters to decide.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"