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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now past the first cutoff of the 2013 session. A lot of bills are technically “dead” for the remainder of session. To see our House Republican “Good Bill/Bad Bill” list that shows which bills are alive and which are dead, click here.
State Supreme Court Kills Taxpayer Protections
Speaking of “dead,” the state Supreme Court ruled today that the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional. Here's a small excerpt from a news release Rep. Bruce Chandler and I sent out to the press:
“Sixty-eight percent of our district supported this requirement for the Legislature, and we have heard this loud and clear. Earlier this month, we supported a proposal that would have put the two-thirds requirement in the House rules. The House Democrat majority rejected this, despite the fact that 44 out of 49 legislative districts voted in favor of Initiative 1185. It's time for the Legislature to listen to the will of the people, and we will continue to fight on their behalf to control spending within our current means.”
If you want to read the entire press release, click here.
Drone Bill Passes Committee
In my last e-newsletter, I talked about my drone bill that would establish state safeguards for the purchase and use of public unmanned aircraft systems (drones). That bill, House Bill 1771, passed out of committee last week. To read my news release, click here.
To read a good, comprehensive story on my bill and the issue of drones' surveillance, click here.
To read Peter Callaghan's (from the Tacoma News Tribune) opinion piece on my bill and the issue of security and privacy, click here.
Less Regulations – More Freedom!
I also mentioned in my last e-newsletter that a few colleagues and I are focusing much of our efforts this year on the Freedom Agenda: Lower taxes, less government, more freedom. As part of that effort, I'm supporting legislation this year that would allow smaller counties to opt out of the Growth Management Act (GMA). To read a good article on the issue and some of the bills we're working on, click here. Here's a quote of mine about the GMA from the story:
'It's a duplicative law that serves no purpose other than to provide nongovernmental organizations the opportunity to cost local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.'
Honoring our Washington State National Guard
A couple of weeks ago, we honored the Washington State National Guard on the House floor with a resolution and a few floor speeches. We were able to take some floor remarks and combine them with music and footage of some of our House Republican members who have served in our armed forces. I know we have a lot of veterans and active-duty armed forces members in the 15th District. Thank you for your service! If you want to watch the short video, click here.
A 10-cent GAS TAX? Are you serious?
Are you willing to pay 10 cents more in gas taxes per gallon of gas? (I can just hear several of my buddies yelling “Hell, no!” right now) That's what House Democrats proposed last week. Washington already has the second-highest excise gas tax in the nation at 37.5 cents-per-gallon. If you add the federal government tax (18.4 cents) and then another 10 cents as some in Olympia want to do, we'd be paying about 66 cents in state and federal taxes for each gallon of gas! If their proposal passes, Washington would have the highest state excise tax on a gallon of gas in the nation!
But it's not just about the gas tax. They're also proposing a .7 percent reinstatement of the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax ($140 increase in license fees for a $20,000 automobile), a .3 percent increase in the Hazardous Substance Tax (ask any farmer or rancher how much that one will hurt – ouch!), a 15 percent increase in the Commercial Gross Weight Fee, and a $5 increase (registration) and a $12 increase (title transfers) in the county auditor licensing fees.
At the end of the day, I believe we need to “fix it, before we fund it.” We have too many problems within our transportation system as it is. Most of you have probably heard the news about the pontoon problem with the 520 floating bridge project, but in case you haven't, check out the Seattle Times article here.
The state has not been protecting or spending tax dollars on transportation projects wisely. There are some reforms and accountability measures that need to be implemented before asking the taxpayers for more. I don't see how we can raise taxes and fees on families, employers and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. We need to find another way.
What do you think? Are you willing to pay 10 cents more for a gallon of gas? Click here to take a survey and leave a comment for me if you'd like.
As always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns about state government. It's an honor serving you in Olympia.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7874 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000