Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2021 session is here, and the first two weeks have already come and gone. I'm excited to be working on the many issues we're facing in Washington right now, even though I'm splitting my time between home and Olympia. But before I jump into this update, I want to thank all of you in the 18th District that have placed your trust in me to represent you for another term in the Legislature. It is an honor to serve you.
A Session Like No Other
As you likely already know, this legislative session, which began Monday, Jan. 11, will be unique. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the Legislature will convene virtually, instead of in-person. Of course, the intent is to keep everyone safe from the spread of COVID-19.
My fellow Republicans in the House, and I, would like nothing more to be in Olympia to make sure your voices are heard. We feel strongly we can do that safely without putting anyone at an increased risk of danger. However, the majority has decided to conduct the business of the people via phone calls and Zoom meetings.
Let me be clear, I do not take COVID-19 lightly. It is real, and it can be deadly. However, I believe we can find the proper balance between public health and safety and allowing our state government to conduct the business of the people in-person, while maintaining access for the public.
It's Time to Focus on Recovery
Speaking of finding balance, I feel strongly that we need to start focusing on helping people and businesses recover. The ripple effect of the virus is very real. The ongoing shutdowns and restrictions have already negatively affected every individual, family, and organization in Washington.
We must take sensible action to help everyone hurt by the pandemic, both directly and indirectly, especially “Main Street” small businesses and citizens who are struggling through no fault of their own because of the governor's shutdowns and restrictions. So, as we all work to control the spread of COVID-19, it's also extremely important that we all come together to find the proper balance to help everyone suffering financially.
Republicans have already offered several ideas that would give people and businesses tangible relief and help boost the economy.
For example, House Bill 1334, the Real Recovery Act, would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, accelerate the safe reopening of schools, and expand COVID testing and vaccine administration.
In addition, House Bill 1299 would provide business and occupation tax relief to the hospitality industry.
Both bills offer solid solutions that would provide true financial relief, without raising taxes.
Democrats Already Looking to Raise Your Taxes
Speaking of taxes, we began this session ready to work on the state's ongoing health and economic crisis. However, the majority has quickly shifted their focus to increasing your taxes. They have already introduced several proposals that would negatively affect just about every person in Washington.
Gas and Carbon Tax
House Democrats are proposing a 16-year, $25.8 billion package of statewide transportation improvements, that would increase the gas tax by 18 cents per gallon and implement a low carbon fuel tax, giving Washington the highest gas tax in the U.S. Add it all up, and the first $1 of every gallon of gas you purchase would go to the government!
Republicans agree that additional funding needs to go towards maintaining our state's aging transportation infrastructure, but our solutions are to reprioritize existing revenues. We should be working together to find common ground, rather than having a massive tax increase dropped on us.
People across our state continue to struggle to make ends meet. We question their decision to increase the gas tax, and then layer on a carbon tax, when our state hasn't recovered from COVID.
Capital Gains Tax
If gas and carbon taxes weren't enough already, the Senate has also introduced a bill (Senate Bill 5096) that would create a 9% income tax on capital gains as small as $25,000. This could lead to some nightmare scenarios for many small businesses. For example, if this bill passes, some business owners who have been forced to permanently close because of the governor's extended shutdown orders, would face a new income tax when they tried to sell their property.
This legislation is wrong for so many reasons. For starters it's an income tax, which makes it unconstitutional in Washington. Additionally, Washingtonians have already voted down an income tax 10 times. Do we really need to ask them to vote on it again?
Republicans continue to offer real solutions that are fiscally responsible and do not raise taxes.
- House Bill 1010: Dedicating the state sales tax on motor vehicles for transportation.
- House Bill 1137: Elevating road maintenance and preservation.
- House Bill 1249: Sales tax revenues on transportation projects is used for transportation purposes, with at least 70% being deposited into the motor vehicle fund.
As part of that balance, we always encourage you to be part of the legislative process. We are here to represent you and we want you to be heard. One of our biggest concerns with a remote session, is that our constituents will not be able to bring their input to the table. However, we will do everything in our power to see that everyone that wants to be heard is able to be heard. If you want to testify about any bill or public policy this session, you still can. Here are links that will help you do that:
I'm excited to continue serving as the lead Republican of the Consumer Protection and Business Committee this session. I will also serve on the Commerce and Gaming and Finance committees. One of my top priorities as a legislator is helping small business and individuals in Washington be successful. Being on these committees allows me to focus on this priority and help all Washingtonians move forward in their occupations and other business endeavors.
Staying Connected With Your Representative
There are many ways to stay connected to the work of the Legislature. Here are some links that will help you keep up with everything going on this session:
My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories. Click on the link to subscribe.
The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans. Click on the link to subscribe.
TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
The Ledger| A legislative news aggregator.
Legislature's website | Here you can see bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
Tracking a bill?|Click the link to find information on specific bills. In addition, when you visit my website you can easily view the legislation I'm sponsoring or co-sponsoring by clicking “Sponsored Bills.”
Please Stay in Touch
Of course, your input and feedback are vital to the legislative process. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, comments, ideas, or concerns. I'm humbled and grateful for the trust you've given me. I will continue to send out regular email updates to keep you updated with what I'm doing this session and with everything else going on with your state government. Additionally, I'll be answering phone calls, emails, and meeting with constituents via Zoom.
It's an honor to serve you!