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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Among my 2017 priorities list last week in my email update to you was growth management reform.
GMA – One size does NOT fit all!
It has been nearly 27 years since the Legislature under one-party control passed the Growth Management Act (GMA). While it mandated efforts for long-term land-use planning, which some argue may be a good thing, the problem with GMA is that it removed the ability for local control of planning efforts and forced counties, cities and communities into its “one size fits all” box.
Priorities in King County are much different than here in Clark County. Unfortunately, the cookie-cutter approach of GMA, implemented by a non-elected Growth Management Hearings Boards, treats all communities exactly the same. The boards have given no room for change or individual needs, even though it has been apparent over all these years that flexibility is needed for good management of growth. GMA especially harms our rural landowners.
This session, I have introduced two growth management reform bills:
Growth Management Reform Act of 2017
GMA contains very little language to address the rural element and population. This result is the Growth Management Hearings Boards consistently make flawed and heavy-handed radical decisions based on politics instead of the rule of law, which are often overturned later in Superior Court. Our small rural landowners are either forced to fight or bear the costs of board decisions that limit the ability to develop their own property. When they fight it out against the board, they often lose, and must pay the costs of attorneys and other fees. If they appeal in Superior Court and win, they've now had to bear those costs again.
House Bill 1224 would give the legislative authorities of certain counties to adopt an ordinance that would allow land-use appeals to go directly to Superior Court, instead of up the bureaucratic ladder, thus saving these landowners from paying twice for the costs of appeal.
Mineral resources planning
Gravel mining and other mineral extraction operations are important components of our local economies. However, when residential development is placed in an area near these operations, it's simply a bad choice, and often the mineral resources operations that were first at the site are shut down. Keep in mind our state consumes about one dump truck of sand and gravel for every man, woman and child per year in Washington; that's 7.2 million dump trucks of sand and gravel each year. This is why we must protect our mineral resource lands.
House Bill 1225 would require cities and counties to designate all property with long-term significance for mineral extractions as “mineral resource lands.” It then narrows the ability in planning efforts of incompatible residential development to be placed near these lands. A public hearing on this bill has been scheduled for next Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Environment Committee.
Also scheduled for public hearing. . .
House Bill 1223 would require 16- and 17-year olds to have a driver's instruction permit for 12 months instead of six months. This will result in twice the supervised driving and extend the permit time through all four seasons of driving conditions. This will save the lives of more young drivers on our roads. This measure, which I introduced, is scheduled to have a public hearing 3:30 p.m., Jan. 25, in the House Transportation Committee.
Become a page in the Legislature!
Do you know someone between the ages of 14 and 16 (has not yet turned 17) who would like to serve as a page in the House of Representatives? Positions are still available! Pages each spend a week at the state Capitol, carrying out various duties such as presenting the flags to operational chores like distributing amendments during legislative sessions. Each job is vital to the efficient operation of the Legislature. If you know of someone who is interested, have them contact my office. You can also get more information at this website, including a page application.
This week's BAD BILL – House Bill 1116 – Payroll tax
It's time to expose the bad bill of the week. This week's choice is among the worst – House Bill 1116. It's a new payroll tax on every employee and employer in Washington state.
The mandated new paid family/medical leave imposes a 0.2555 percent payroll tax starting on July 1, 2018, and then 0.51 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, with annual adjustment increases each year. Half of the payroll tax will be paid by the employer and half will be automatically deducted from all employee paychecks. There is no distinction between large companies or small mom and pop businesses.
Most large companies already provide some form of paid family leave, so this bill is another assault on small businesses in our state who are running on tight profit margins. I will be voting NO.
I support workers taking time off from work to have a baby, care for a sick parent, child or any other important medical emergency, but not at the expense of everyone else. For me, it's a matter of personal responsibility; saving for a rainy day, not living above your means, and financially planning for a growing family.
This bill would further exacerbate our low business startup rates, which have dropped from 3.7 percent in 2006 to 2.5 percent in 2015. And exit rates for businesses leaving our state have outpaced starting rates since 2014. That's one of the reasons why not a single House Republican signed onto this BAD bill that would kill small businesses.
I want to hear from you!
I welcome your thoughts and comments as we progress through the scheduled 105-day session. Please contact my office. You'll find my contact information below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"
469 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7812 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000