Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Less than two weeks into the 2018 legislative session lawmakers reached an agreement on a Hirst solution and a capital budget.
Thursday night the Legislature passed the Hirst fix, Senate Bill 6091, the capital budget, Senate Bill 6090, and the bond authorization bill for the capital budget, House Bill 1080. All with strong, bipartisan support.
You will recall, Hirst refers to the flawed state Supreme Court decision in October 2016 in which the court ruled that in order for counties to comply with the Growth Management Act, they have the responsibility to ensure water availability for land-use decisions, instead of relying on the Department of Ecology (DOE).
This issue is more than just about water. Hirst is the most significant property rights issue I have faced since I arrived in Olympia. No solution would have been a big hit to our real estate and construction industries – critical areas of our economy.
The Hirst solution grandfathers in existing wells and removes the mandate the state Supreme Court imposed on counties to find legal, available water. This would have been an enormous mandate, particularly for counties with limited resources and funds.
The legislation also addresses the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the court's decision. It directs the Department of Ecology (DOE) to create concise charts for county planners so we know what is being required under water law.
As part of the Hirst agreement the capital budget includes $300 million for instream flow and watershed planning projects, financed over 15 years.
With Hirst being resolved and the capital budget being passed, projects that have been on hold can now move forward. The capital budget, sometimes referred to as our “bricks and mortar” or construction budget, includes significant projects throughout the state and the 18th Legislative District including:
- Clark College North County satellite building;
- Chelatchie Prairie railroad maintenance building in Yacolt;
- Columbia River Trail in Washougal;
- Harmony Sports Complex safety improvements;
- Paradise Point water supply system in Ridgefield; and
- Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Rep. Vick with students from Washington State University.
Bring manufacturers back to Washington
My focus in Olympia continues to be to make our state more business friendly and reduce the burdens on business so we can retain and create more family-wage jobs in Washington.
This session I introduced House Bill 2393 which would set the tax rate at .2904 for manufacturers, the same preferential tax rate given to aerospace manufacturers, including Boeing.
The legislation provides an incentive for manufacturers to locate in some of our suburban, rural and coastal areas. The manufacturing industry has lost approximately 51,000 jobs in 17 years. Right here in Clark County the Camas paper and pulp mill announced the elimination of 300 family-wage jobs.
Let's get our manufacturing industry back on track and bring those jobs back to suburban and rural Washington. House Bill 2393 is in the House Finance Committee.
Despite record levels of tax revenue coming into the state the last couple years, there still seems to be a thirst for taxes in Olympia.
On day two of the session, Gov. Inslee unveiled his carbon tax plan that would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton beginning July, 2019. It does not seem to be going anywhere as it would need 100 percent support from the Democrat legislators, and not all are on board.
I bring it to your attention because you need to know the quest for new and increased taxes never goes away. You also need to know what this would do to the citizens of Washington. The governor's staff indicated we would likely see a 4-5 percent increase in electricity, 10 percent increase on natural gas, and anywhere from 6-9 percent on fuel, which amounts to about 18 cents a gallon. Remember, we already have the second highest gas tax in the country.
If this proposal does gain any traction I will let you know. I will continue to exhibit leadership and be on the frontlines in fighting against proposed new and increased taxes. You will recall I introduced House Bill 2212 last year to prevent local governments from imposing an income tax on an individual's or household's income.
I can assure you we will be watching the governor's carbon tax plan and other tax proposals closely as the session progresses.
A good step for affordable housing and aging in place
Affordable housing is a problem impacting all regions of our state, especially for our “silver tsunami” or aging baby boomer population. They are finding it difficult to “age in place” even when they just want to stay in a mother-in-law type apartment. I have found that certain rules and regulations are making it difficult to construct these types of dwellings.
To address this issue I have introduced House Bill 2503. This bill would give local governments some additional flexibility in their development and zoning regulations so they could allow for development and placement of accessory, or mother-in-law apartments, within or outside Urban Growth Areas (UGAs).
The legislation would also require recommendations to be made to the Legislature to encourage these apartments in areas zoned for single-family residence use.
I met with county officials during the interim to discuss this idea. They were supportive given the difficulties we are facing in Clark County and Washington state in finding and developing affordable housing.
Rep. Vick with Strong Teens Against Substance Hazards and Abuse (STASHA) members.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this update or any other legislative matters. We hope to have more information on the special session in the near future.
It is an honor to serve the 18th District!