Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are a few weeks into the 2017 legislative session and so far, it has been relatively quiet as far the Legislature goes.
It is an honor to have been appointed to serve on three important committees this year. Once again I am the ranking Republican on the House Business and Financial Services Committee. This committee deals with issues relating to banking, insurance, and business licensing. As the ranking member, I will be working with the chair of the committee on formulating the agenda, and be the lead voice for the caucus on issues before the committee.
New to my schedule this year is the House Appropriations Committee, which considers the operating budget and other fiscal issues. While the committee itself is new to me, the intricacies of our state budget are not. I am pleased to be in a position to debate spending proposals – budgets, bills, and amendments before the committee.
I will continue serving on the House Commerce and Gaming Committee as the assistant ranking Republican. You may have heard me refer to this committee as the “vice” committee because issues that come before this committee include alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis, as well as gaming and tribal compacts. There are a large number of proposals facing this committee as we continue to learn how to deal with our evolving marketplaces.
Every odd-numbered year, legislators must create a new, two-year budget. The focus of this year's budget will be our K-12 education funding obligation stemming from the state Supreme Court's McCleary rulings.
The governor is also required by law to propose a budget which he did in December. However, it appeared to be more of a partisan wish list rather than a legitimate spending plan. He proposed the most massive tax increase in history and his tax proposals have failed in the past, either in the Legislature in recent session, or they have been turned down by the voters, sometimes more than once. The governor's plan includes:
- a 60 percent increase on the state B&O tax;
- capital gains tax;
- carbon emissions tax; and
- rolling back tax incentives on bottled water and refineries.
His B&O tax is directed at the service industry – your local accountants, barbers and hairdressers, real estate agents, landscapers, mechanics – anyone who provides a service.
The governor's budget proposal isn't going anywhere. It is just a negotiating tool, and who is going to support tax increases of any kind, when we are expecting an increase of $2.6 billion dollars in tax revenue for our next budget, a 6.7 percent increase. We are seeing more of your dollars than ever before, yet he proposed the most massive tax increase in history. Negotiating tool or not, given the tax dollars coming in, it was a disingenuous proposal at best.
Right to Try
I will be working on “Right to Try ” legislation again this session. House Bill 1242 would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments and investigational medical products. I introduced the bill late in the process last year. I am hoping some fine-tuning and introducing it earlier this session will improve our chance of getting it passed.
“Right to Try” legislation has been signed into law in 31 states now, including Idaho and Oregon.
When you mention “crowdfunding” most people's eyes glaze over. That's why I won't get into the details of my House Bill 1593. It is a technical bill, but in the grand scheme of things we are looking for new, innovative ways for entrepreneurs to raise capital that could lead to potential job creation. This bill modifies some of the crowdfunding laws we have passed in previous sessions with the hope that simplifying the process will lead to more investments. Clark county is primed for economic growth in many sectors and this bill will give job creators another way to access the capital necessary to build those businesses.
Improving our economy
Small business issues continue to be my passion. I will be working on legislation to protect and create jobs while looking for opportunities to reduce our permitting and regulatory hurdles.
If you have questions about any of the issues in this update or any others before the Legislature, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Let us know in advance if you will be in Olympia. It is always great to see friendly faces, organizations and associations from home. I have already met with a number of people from the 18th this session – including the Public School Employees (photo above).
It is an honor representing you.