Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now just over a month into our scheduled 105-day legislative session in Olympia. Our first major deadline is just over a week away. Feb 20 marks the cutoff for policy bills to be reported out of their respective committees. The exception is bills in fiscal committees and the Transportation Committee. The cutoff date for bills in those committees is Feb. 27. Generally speaking, bills not reported from their respective committees by those deadlines are considered “dead” for the year. Of course, any bill can be resurrected by amending the rules and moved forward during the session. Bills necessary to implement the budget are also exempted from the cutoffs. Go here to see our 2015 session cutoff calendar.
I'm working very hard to encourage committee chairs to give each of my bills a hearing and move them forward. Go here to see a list of my bills and their current status.
If you are a resident of Battle Ground, or live within the surrounding rural areas in the 98604 zip code, please consider attending a town hall meeting I'm holding jointly this Saturday with the City of Battle Ground. I want your feedback and input on House Bill 1593. This is a measure supported by Battle Ground city officials that would modify the authority of cities and counties, under certain circumstances, to impose a local annual vehicle fee of up to $50 and a local sales and use tax of up to 0.2 percent with a vote of the governing board, but without a vote of citizens, with the money going for local transportation projects. The bill is being considered by the House Transportation Committee.
Let me state clearly that I have serious reservations about this bill. That's why I want to hear from our Battle Ground residents. The town hall meeting will focus exclusively on this bill. It will be held at the Battle Ground City Hall, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14. You can read more about it in my news release here.
For residents in communities within the Battle Ground 98604 zip code area, I will be offering an online survey through this e-mail update beginning next week to get your input on HB 1593.
Below are my thoughts on the governor's proposed carbon tax. Hold onto your wallets!
Please contact my office with any questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and state government.
Gov. Inslee's carbon tax proposal would cost everyone with no significant results
On Tuesday, the House Environment Committee passed House Bill 1314 along party lines, 6-5, with Republicans voting no. This is Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed carbon tax/cap and trade bill. During a recent public hearing on the measure, one citizen who testified in support called it a “tiny billion dollar tax” and passed out literature declaring we should “end capitalism to save the planet.”
I am very disturbed that this measure will not only cost jobs in Washington state, but will raise the price of gasoline, heating fuel and everything delivered by a truck, including food.
HB 1314 would establish an annual limit on carbon emissions to 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. Companies that go over their limit would have to buy carbon credits at an auction administered by the state Department of Ecology, (DOE). Under this scheme, one metric ton of carbon would be equal to one carbon allowance. DOE would have total rule-making authority to set the auction price of carbon credits and I'm convinced the price would increase every year!
The governor's proposal is a new energy tax on every Washingtonian. He insists it is only targeted at our state's largest polluters.
I spoke out at the hearing, taking particular umbrage with the list of businesses. Three major corporations on his list are in the 18th District. While Inslee refers to them as “polluters,” I call them “job creators.” I defended these Camas companies, including WaferTech, a semiconductor plant which employs more than 1,000 employees, and Georgia Pacific, our long-standing paper mill with nearly 500 employees. Both of these companies, like all the businesses on Inslee's “Dirty 130” list provide important family wage jobs for our community. Many other supplier and service companies would also be affected. In Washington, three private-sector jobs are created for every one manufacturing job.
The governor's plan would charge a new “cap-and-trade” tax to both transportation fuel and natural gas, meaning every Washington family, farmer, worker and employer would pay more to fill their cars and trucks, and to heat their home. Looking at the governor's own numbers, the only way he can achieve his target of raising $1 billion and the 2035 carbon target is to increase the price of gas by 44 cents per gallon over the next five years and $1.46 per gallon by year 2035. His plan would also increase the price of natural gas nearly 23 percent within five years and nearly 60 percent by 2035.
Locally, Clark Public Utilities (CPU) operates the River Road plant, a very efficient natural gas plant, that generates about 2.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year, (roughly half of CPU's power sales). Inslee's energy tax on natural gas would severely impact every ratepayer in Clark County, and especially our large industrial electric customers, such as SEH America, our local hospitals and WSU-Vancouver. Even worse, if CPU is forced to shut down its River Road plant due to higher costs, it would likely purchase other electricity from the open market that includes electricity from coal, which releases much more carbon into the atmosphere than natural gas. This short-sighted policy would result in more carbon pollution.
With our clean, green hydroelectric power, our emissions represent only 3/10th of 1 percent of all global carbon emissions, making Washington the second cleanest energy generation state in the country. Our state's employers have been leading the charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the 2014 Competitiveness Greenbook published by the Association of Washington Business, Washington is now among the top 10 states in the country for:
- cleanest economy;
- most wind power generation;
- fewest miles driven and fewest solo auto commuters;
- highest use of public transit; and
- energy efficient policies.
We are making significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. New policies, innovations by the private sector and everyday decisions by Washington families have reduced our emissions to below 1990 levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Furthermore, our state's industries emit 20 percent less carbon than in 1990.
Driving manufacturing jobs out of our clean state and into high-carbon states and other countries will not benefit the goal of reducing global emissions. It will make it worse. Proof of this can be found in California's costly cap-and-trade tax where that state's manufacturing sector job growth has been less than one percent, compared to the national average of 6 percent. At a critical time in our state's fragile recovering economy, we cannot afford to drive away businesses that provide important family wage jobs to our citizens.
I share the governor's goal in reducing greenhouse gasses. We have an obligation to protect our environment for future generations. However, the governor's plan to create a complicated, government-run financial scheme to regulate carbon emissions by taxing our residents is not the answer. The best solutions are achieved when we collaborate with our job creators on proven policies that encourage environmental leadership by everyone.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"