Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you are enjoying your summer. While the Legislature has been adjourned for a few months there is plenty going on related to state government. I want to give you an update on some important issues making headlines recently.
A state income tax?
On July 15, the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled the city of Seattle has the authority to impose a local income tax, nullifying a 35-year-old ban enacted by the Legislature to prevent cities from taxing net income. The court determined the Legislature broke the constitutional rule that a bill should not address more than one subject.
While the court did rule the city's graduated income tax was unconstitutional because it is not applied uniformly, the ruling that the Legislature's law was unconstitutional now gives local governments the leeway to pursue taxes on net income. This is scary. We know how badly income tax proponents want to get this in place. The city of Seattle is expected to take the issue to the Washington State Supreme Court requesting the court to overturn previous rulings on the unconstitutionality of income taxes.
You may recall, in anticipation of this happening I introduced legislation the last two sessions to prevent a local income tax from being implemented. House Republicans again are working on similar legislation to address this court ruling.
You, the taxpayers, have made it well known how you feel about an income tax. A statewide income tax has been rejected 10 times since the Washington state Supreme Court overturned Initiative 69 in 1933, the latest being in 2010 when the proposed income tax measure failed in all 39 counties with 64 percent voting “no.”
Click here for background information on our efforts to prevent an income tax.
Department of Labor and Industries new overtime rules
Public hearings are happening around the state over a recently proposed rule that would make more than 250,000 workers in Washington state eligible for overtime pay by 2026.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is currently traveling the state and holding public hearings on their proposal to change the state's existing overtime rules. The proposed changes are significant. More than 250,000 workers could be eligible for overtime pay by 2026.
I am concerned it could hurt the growth and investment of businesses in rural areas and our nonprofits. All employers may be affected and in turn impact employees.
The change to Washington's overtime rules are overdue, but the department's proposal is very aggressive, creating almost a “super minimum wage.” You can read a column Rep. Larry Hoff and I penned for the Vancouver Business Journal here.
To learn more about the proposal and how to submit comments click here.
Let's end title-only bills
In my end of session email update I talked about “title-only bills” – bills that contain a title, but no content. The majority party was holding public hearings on legislation with no content. We didn't know what was in the legislation, what we were voting on and the public had no opportunity to testify on the legislation.
I am working on legislation with others in the House Republican Caucus. Our goal is to have a bill that will give legislators AND the public ample time to review and testify on the bill. Legislation is still being drafted, but we want legislation that would include the following:
- A standing committee of the Legislature may not hold a public hearing on a bill unless the bill has been publicly introduced at least 72 hours before the public hearing.
- Proposed substitutes and striking amendments must be made publicly available 72 hours before a vote in either committee or by either body.
- Bills cannot be voted on by a committee or either body without a public hearing in the same calendar year.
The media's thoughts on title-only bills:
Nonresident sales tax exemption
As you are aware, Democrats in the Legislature have eliminated the state's nonresident sales tax exemption, and turned it into a yearly remittance program for only certain purchases.
If you are an employer is Southwest Washington, I would urge you to communicate with me and other state legislators. I am very interested in how this will impact your business and livelihood moving forward. I am concerned it will jeopardize businesses and jobs in our region. I will be following this issue closely.
This interim I have the opportunity to talk with a lot of constituents, members of local government, and organizations. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions, concerns or input. Your feedback is important to me as we work on important issues affecting Clark County and Washington state.
It is an honor to represent the 18th District.