Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have officially passed the policy cut-off deadline and reached the halfway point of this short 60-day session, which means we now have a good idea of what legislation has a chance to become law and what bills won't be getting through this year.
This session has been extremely busy, with more than 1800 bills introduced by lawmakers from both chambers. Roughly 800 of those bills are still alive. Floor action will be the major focus of the upcoming week, as bills need to make it out of their House of Origin by Feb. 19 in order to progress further.
I want to update you on a few of the big issues making news and on some of the bills I've been working on.
B&O Surcharge Tax – Senate Bill 6492 was introduced this year to “fix” some of the unworkable aspects in House Bill 2158, that the majority party passed last year. That bill, which took effect on Jan. 1, increased the tax bill by 20 percent on income from service industries to fund higher education for low-income families.
Proponents realized that House Bill 2158 was not going to raise enough money to meet the demand for scholarships. As a result, they introduced Senate Bill 6492 to increases the number of taxable industries and the overall revenue collected. If history is an indicator of future behavior, we can safely predict that the majority in the House will attempt to raise another tax on Washingtonians in the near future.
Please click on the image below to listen to my testimony against the bill.
Any service business that meets a very minimal set of standards will see a significant increase in their taxes compared to last year. Unfortunately, those costs will ultimately be passed onto you, the consumer. It is unthinkable that we would add to the cost of healthcare, housing, and basic daily services in order to fund this program. This will hurt hard-working families, and we will have to correct the enormous damage done by this short-sighted and unworkable “fix.”
Despite numerous proposed amendments, which would've dramatically improved this legislation, and hours of testimony by Republicans advocating for a better and more practical solution, Senate Bill 6942 was passed by both legislative chambers and signed into law this week by the governor.
Low-Carbon Fuel Standard – I joined with every other House Republican, and five Democrats, in bipartisan opposition against this unnecessary economic burden. However, House Democrats passed House Bill 1110 despite overwhelming evidence it would have no measurable effect in reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, this bill would increase the price of gas by as much as .57 cents a gallon, and diesel by as much as .63 cents a gallon. This legislation is now in the hands of the Senate.
Homelessness – This is another big topic, which significantly impacts our community. However, it has not yet received the necessary attention required from the majority party, other than the predictable proposals of unneeded, additional taxes. We have heard from countless Washingtonians that homelessness is the number one issue the Legislature should address this session. We need immediate, practical, and impactful solutions to provide real hope for individuals and families in crisis.
The policy of funding homelessness, housing, and substance abuse recovery services is paramount to our constituents and our communities and I am strongly advocating for real solutions for those in need. Yet, the priorities of House leadership this session have been the regressive tax increases which stifle job growth and hurt opportunities for those who need it most. I have received countless emails by constituents who are disappointed by the majority's actions and I completely understand their frustration.
Occupational Licensing Bills – In my last update, I told you about five bills I'm sponsoring or co-sponsoring that are intended to ease occupational licensing regulations. I'm happy to report that those bills, House Bill 2354, House Bill 2355, House Bill 2356, House Bill 2477, and House Bill 2875, have officially moved through their initial committee and I'm expecting to see at least three of them hit the House floor.
Gun Rights Bills – there have been a number of controversial gun bills introduced in both the House and the Senate in this legislative session. I believe in our 2nd Amendment rights and will stand with other Republicans to fight unreasonable bills which encroach on the rights of Washingtonians on the House floor.
You can stay up to date on all of the bills I'm sponsoring by clicking here.
Please do not forget to stay in tune with everything going on during session, including with the House Republican Caucus, by checking out The Ledger. This daily news aggregator provides timely updates that keep you abreast of everything happening in Olympia.
Finally, I want to thank you for continuing to reach out to me here in Olympia. I've met with so many people who care about their communities and want to see Washington succeed. Even though we've passed policy cut-off that doesn't mean you can't continue to reach out to me. If you'd like to make an appointment, just contact my legislative assistant, Peter Gilmour at (360) 786-7850 or email me at Brandon.Vick@leg.wa.gov.
It's my honor to serve the people of the 18 District.
To read this email update in another language, visit my website and click on the red “TRANSLATE” button in the lower left-hand corner to select your language.