Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2021 legislative session will go down in history as one of the most unique. With all but a handful of lawmakers working from home or in some type of satellite office during the 105-day session, the capitol campus looked like a ghost town. The virtual session meant long days and late hours toggling between computer screens, attending virtual committee hearings, floor debates, and constituent meetings. Like many of you, we learned, adapted and found ways to make things work.
Legislating is more than debating and voting on policy. While it's good that we've all become better at using communication technologies—like Zoom and other online meeting applications—nothing beats real human interaction when discussing ideas.
For all the constituents who sent me an email, called, or took part in the legislative process: thank you. I recognize this virtual session wasn't easy on you either. The silver lining is that constituents from across that state had the opportunity to take part in the legislative process remotely. In fact, remote testimony is one of the big success stories from this session—one I hope stays in place.
Approved sponsored bills in 2021
I'm incredibly excited that despite the difficulties and challenges of this legislative session, three of my bills made it through the process successfully and were recently signed into law by the governor.
After months of the pandemic, it's become more clear that families need and deserve our support. House Bill 1237 helps define existing and newly forming family resource centers. These community-based, family-focused facilities provide programs like parenting support, child development activities, and access to other family-friendly resources.
Have you ever signed something without knowing all the facts? Imagine if that paperwork was for the purchase of your home. During the pandemic, the lack of internet access was a problem in many regions of our state. Before signing on the bottom line, House Bill 1064 ensures that home buyers get full disclosure of high-speed internet access in the seller's statement.
Skagit County reached out to me earlier this year and asked if I would sponsor House Bill 1309. The bill changes the certification date of levies for non-charted counties. Currently, state and county dates do not align, making county compliance difficult, if not impossible. My bill gives county governments and the county assessor adequate time to complete their work, including time for public hearings if needed.
Farm to kitchen | Helping small farmers thrive
Many Snohomish County and Skagit County farms suffer from a lack of available supportive infrastructures like cooled storage, commercial kitchens, and delivery warehouse space. That's why I sponsored an allocation of $2.5 million in the state's recently approved 2021-23 capital budget spending plan to help pay for a year-round indoor farmer's market in Snohomish County.
The Snohomish County Food and Farming Center will provide a lasting benefit for many of the county's small agricultural producers, helping get their products to market faster and more efficiently. Along with a processing and distribution center, so farmers can wash, freeze and slice produce, there are plans for a commercial kitchen and space to combine products together for big orders. I was happy to help get this project funded!
Capital gains income tax
Just a few days before the end of the session, the Legislature approved the capital gains income tax, which affects individuals that accumulate over $250,000 of income through investments. The narrative being built around Senate Bill 5096 is that it's a tax on the wealthy. But I fear it's the “camel's nose under the tent” to deploying an income tax to all Washingtonians in the future. Along with its questionable constitutionality, this income tax will hurt economic growth by taking away one of the best competitive advantages we have: until now, Washington state did not impose an income tax on its citizens.
To learn more, watch my remarks during House floor debate on this proposal:
U.S. Highway 2 | Budget proviso
In the 39th District, residents living along U.S. Highway 2 know how bad the traffic congestion gets. We've long endured stop-and-go traffic on long segments of the two-lane highway, especially over weekends and holidays.
I've been fighting for improvements on this highway for years. As I recently noted in an opinion piece published in the Seattle Times, traffic on U.S. Highway 2 isn't just a nuisance, it's become a safety issue. Drivers parking illegally when visiting popular recreational areas often leave only one usable lane. When called to help people in distress, especially those involving water searches, rescuers and emergency personnel can't help if they can't get their vehicles through.
That's why I pushed this session for a budget proviso that would have allowed the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to conduct a safety and capacity study to help identify some potential solutions. Unfortunately, the allocation did not make it into the final 2021-23 transportation budget. I'm not giving up! My goal is to see this allocation get approved in a future transportation budget.
Stay engaged with your state government
Although the 2021 session is now over, please know I am here to serve you year-round. Throughout the interim, I'll be sending updates and information on my work for the 39th District and the state. I encourage you to reach out to me with any comments, questions or concerns you have. My email address is Carolyn.Eslick@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7816.
It's an honor to serve you in the state House!