Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Upcoming public hearings
Here are a few of the bills being heard in Olympia in the coming week. Please note I do not necessarily support all of these. I share this information to keep you informed and give you the opportunity to testify or offer your comments:
HB 1115 and HB 1166 — 2015-17 capital budget and bond bill. Capital Budget @ 8 a.m.
SB 5748 — clarifying the teacher evaluation process (NCLB waiver). Education @ 10 a.m.
HB 1106 — 2015-17 operating budget. Appropriations @ 1:30 p.m.
Click on the bill links above and select “comment on this bill” to offer your feedback online.
Today marks only 29 days left of the 2015 legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn April 26. The House Democrats released their 2015-17 operating budget proposal late this morning and will hold a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee Monday. As I've mentioned before, the Legislature is expecting $3 billion additional in revenues for this budgeting cycle. Legislators should work to prioritize spending and streamline inefficient processes before asking taxpayers for even more money.
Here are the details for the House Democrats' budget proposal:
- Raises spending from $33.8 billion in the 2013-15 biennium to $38.9 billion for 2015-17.
- Includes nearly $1.5 billion in new and increased taxes: capital gains tax, ending several tax exemptions, and increasing the B&O tax service rate again.
- Eliminates the state spending limit and leaves an ending fund of only $4 million for the 2017-19 biennium.
With nearly an 8 percent increase in revenue collections for this biennium, the Legislature should be able to pass a sustainable budget without requiring new or increased taxes. Lawmakers must hear from taxpayers on this proposal – not just special interest groups. You can find the contact information for members of the House Appropriations Committee here. You can also call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
As session winds down, I encourage you to still contact me with questions, comments and concerns. Thank you to all who have reached out to me this session and I sincerely hope you will continue to do so as session wraps up.
Clark College President Robert Knight visits Olympia
Bob Knight, president of Clark College, visited Olympia last week and joined me during the taping of my legislative video update to share with viewers Clark College priorities. In the video, I also discuss tax policy bills considered by the House Finance Committee and three of my bills still alive in the process. Watch the video below, or click here.
Transportation survey results
In my last email update, I included a link to my transportation survey asking folks if they would be willing to support a nearly 12-cent increase in the gas tax should a transportation revenue package passed by the Senate make its ways through the legislative process. Here are the results:
Yes – 18%
Yes, but only if major 18th District projects are funded – 12%
No – 60%
Not sure. Need more information. – 9%
If you didn't take the survey but want to share your feedback on transportation budgeting and reforms, please email me at email@example.com.
My bills pass out of Senate committees
Three of my bills passed out of their respective Senate committees this week.
HB 1308 deals with surplus lines of insurance. This bill requires the tax on premiums for surplus line property be computed upon the entire premium where the risks covered are located within the U.S. It would also make it so no tax is required is the surplus line insurance covers risks outside of the U.S.
HB 1309 helps real estate brokers by allowing them to sell floating homes.
HB 1884 adds one-wheeled assistive mobility devices, like that of Camas company Inventist, Inc.'s “solowheel,” to existing statutes that legalize the use of Segways. This bill will help prevent consumers of companies like Inventist's products from being penalized for using those products.
Visitors from the 18th District
Last week, members of the Clark County Parent Coalition met with me in Olympia to discuss special needs concerns and resource-access.
Battle Ground Rose Festival princesses stopped by the Capitol to meet with 17th and 18th District lawmakers. You can learn more about the Battle Ground Rose Float and princesses here.