Dear Friends and Neighbors,
My top priorities during this session are getting Washingtonians safely back to work, school, and a more normal life. As families and job-supporting businesses attempt to get back on their feet after the economic devastation COVID-19 has wrought, it's imperative lawmakers bring real solutions to the table so Washingtonians get the help they need.
That's why I've been supportive of a COVID-19 relief package that, unfortunately, has not come up for a vote: The REAL Recovery for Washington Act. This comprehensive approach, which seeks to utilize the state's rainy-day fund, does far more than the bill that recently approved by the House and Senate: House Bill 1368.
Like the unemployment insurance bill passed earlier this session, and the governor signed last week, the COVID-relief legislation would do some positive things. But unfortunately, it does not go far enough to help struggling families, employees, and businesses.
Look at the side-by-side comparison of the two proposals below:
I encourage you to review some of the other Real Solutions and COVID-19 relief bills my colleagues and I have put together to help Washingtonians, including:
- Safely opening our schools and businesses;
- Opposing new fees and taxes;
- Holding state agencies, like Washington's Employee Security Department, accountable;
- Protecting our communities and families; and
- Reining in some of the executive office's emergency powers.
No more taxes
While countless individuals and families have been experiencing a financial crisis, state government has not. Tax revenue has been steadily increasing since its first plunge at the onset of the pandemic. In fact, revenue has remained remarkably resilient throughout this last year. Lawmakers have more than enough in tax collections to balance the budget and provide relief for struggling individuals, families, and businesses.
That's why I will continue to oppose the unnecessary and punitive tax increases introduced in this session, including proposals that would make health care, gasoline, and home energy more costly.
Other taxes I oppose include the controversial, and unconstitutional capital gains income tax. Senate Bill 5096 would impose a 9% income tax on capital gains as small as $25,000. Not only are income taxes prohibited by our state's constitution—and certain to be challenged legally—capital gains taxes are a notoriously unreliable way to collect state revenue.
Virtual Town Hall
Transparent and accessible state government is even more important when we are forced to operate remotely. That's why I'm excited to announce that I'll be hosting my first “virtual” town hall meeting.
Please consider joining me online via Zoom on Thursday, March 18, at 6 p.m. for a discussion about topics related to the 2021 legislative session. The conference call only accommodates 500 attendees. Click here to register early.
Session cut off calendar | Policy and fiscal bill deadlines
It's hard to believe we are more than a month into the 105-day session. This Monday, Feb. 15th, was policy cut off. That means policy bills must be passed out of committee in their house of origin or we consider them “dead” for the session. Legislation with fiscal impacts are the only exception to this rule.
Next week is another big deadline: fiscal cut-off, which means all fiscal bills—unless necessary to implement the budget—must be passed out of committees like the House Appropriations, Transportation, and the Senate Ways and Means, in their house of origin.
Here are some important pieces of legislation I'm watching closely as they go through this process:
- House Bill 1525 – Concerning enforcement of judgments.
- House Bill 1526 – Authorizing local option revenue for homelessness services, subject to specified conditions, including prohibiting supervised injection sites and requiring local restrictions on camping on public property.
- House Bill 1527 – Addressing the extent to which Washington residents are at risk of rolling blackouts and inadequacy events like those experienced in California in 2020.
- House Bill 1535 – Exempting family and household necessities from the sales and use tax.
The commission's first remote access meeting takes place on Feb. 21, from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, send an email to Comment@redistricting.wa.gov.
Contact me if you have concerns or ideas about bills being considered during this legislative session. Email is the most convenient way to contact me, but you can also call or send a letter. I look forward to hearing from you.