Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Week seven of the legislative session is coming to a close, and we are rapidly approaching the half-way point of the 2019 Legislature. A lot has happened since my last newsletter. Many pieces of legislation have moved along, while even more did not make the cut. We even had the first cancellation of the Legislature in decades, as we dealt with significant amounts of snow. Last Friday, Feb. 22, was the first major deadline of the session, the policy committee cutoff. Policy bills that did not make it out of their respective committees are considered “dead.”
This Friday, March 1, is the fiscal committee cutoff. Bills necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) are exempt from cutoffs, but other fiscal-related bills must be passed by Friday or they are considered “dead.” Find the status of your priority legislation here.
In this addition of my legislative insight there is information on our upcoming town hall meetings, the latest on the income tax debate and a status report on my bills still moving.
Town hall meetings
Sen. Ann Rivers, Rep. Larry Hoff and I are holding town hall meetings this Saturday, March 2. We look forward to providing you with updates on the 2019 Legislative Session, and want to hear your priorities for the rest of the year. The times and locations are:
- 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Yacolt Town Hall, 202 W. Cushman Street
- 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – La Center City Hall, 214 East 4th Street
We will also be holding another meeting on Saturday, March 16.
- 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.– Port of Camas, 24 S A Street, Washougal
We look forward to seeing you there.
Rep. Vick with daughter Makena and friend on Children's Day on the House floor.
Status of my sponsored legislation
House Bill 1641 my highly capable student legislation passed the Education Committee unanimously and is now in the House Appropriations Committee. I have received a strong response regarding this legislation. In fact, there is a film crew coming to Olympia to do a documentary on gifted or highly capable students. My legislation would clean up a lot of the inequities of the Highly Capable program. I want to ensure each student is getting the education they deserve. Education is not one size fits all.
House Bill 1208 has passed the House by a vote of 96-0. This bill streamlines the certified public accountant licensing process, and reduces barriers to entry. The Board of Accountancy and the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants both testified in favor of the legislation.
House Bill 1666 has been passed by the Local Government Committee. This is a local government efficiency issue. Currently, if a city is changing their government structure, two votes are required. This bill allows a city's council to combine a proposition to change to a council-manager form of government with a directly elected mayor. If the citizens vote no on the combined proposition neither can happen. The legislation also gives an additional option when a community wants to consider moving to a different type of government.
The latest on the push for an income tax
In my last email update, I mentioned my legislation, House Bill 1588, prohibiting a local income tax. It is not scheduled for a public hearing in the House Finance Committee. That is not surprising given the fact the majority party would like to see some kind of income or capital gains tax implemented at the state or local level.
However, those of us opposed to the income tax are not done fighting. In January, the Washington State Supreme Court declined to take up a lower-court ruling that struck down Seattle's income tax and instead sent the case to the Court of Appeals. The city of Seattle indicated they were not giving up and were taking their arguments to the Court of Appeals.
Since then, several Democrat lawmakers have filed an amicus brief arguing Seattle and cities across Washington state already have the right to impose an income tax.
I felt I needed to reintroduced my legislation to prevent local governments from implementing a local income tax. With local governments and some lawmakers in Olympia working in favor of an income tax, along with the governor's push for a capital gains income tax, someone needed to stand up and protect the taxpayers.
Now, in response to the Democratic lawmakers brief, attorneys representing the taxpayers filed a response on Monday. The attorneys representing the taxpayers are former Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge and former State Attorney General Rob McKenna. The brief read:
“Six state senators and eleven state representatives, repeating arguments made elsewhere in this case, ask this Court to intervene in the legislative arena. The irony should not be lost that instead of following the constitutional mandate to pass a law expressly granting Washington cities the power to tax income, a small group of state legislators ask this Court to conclude, incorrectly, that the Legislature has already granted cities such power in the Optional Municipal Code even though no city has exercised and no court has recognized such a power in the 52 years since that Code's enactment. Instead of sponsoring legislation authorizing cities to tax income they seek refuge from political accountability by asking the courts to legislate for them.”
We know where you the taxpayers stand on this issue. It is not the role of the Supreme Court to do what the voters won't.
The push for an income tax is unfathomable, especially when we are seeing record taxpayer revenues come into the state. I do expect a debate on a capital gains tax during the session. I have discussed many times why a capital gains tax IS an income tax. This video does a great job of explaining why. We will keep you informed on that and any other tax revenue proposals.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns with the legislation mentioned in this update.