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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2021 legislative session will go down in history as one of the most unique and challenging in state history. 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. Lawmakers spent 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.
Lawmakers passed 340 bills this session. But 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 contacted me, 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.
Capital Gains Income Tax | Senate Bill 5096
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:
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!
Business-related bills that passed this session
Here's a list of some of the business-related bills approved this session. For more details on these bills, or to see the vote totals, click on the highlighted bill numbers listed below.
- House Bill 1399 | Creates a process for a person with a criminal conviction to request a determination of whether that criminal history is disqualifying for obtaining a professional license administered by the Department of Licensing.
- House Bill 1170 | Provides a state goal to double the state's manufacturing employment base, the number of small manufacturing businesses, and the number of women and minority-owned manufacturing businesses in ten years.
- House Bill 1259 | Establishes an Audit and Review unit within the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises (OMWBE) to detect and investigate fraud and violations pertaining to the certification of, and contracting with, minority- and women-owned businesses.
- House Bill 1315 | Creates a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence.
- House Bill 1493 | Allows the Employment Security Department (ESD) to direct the required evidence of job search activities for unemployment insurance claimants until December 31, 2023.
- House Bill 1073 | Provides grants to certain employees ineligible for paid family and medical leave benefits due to insufficient hours worked.
- Senate Bill 5025 | Increases maximum civil penalties for a violation of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
- Senate Bill 5355 | Creates procedures for establishing, foreclosing, extinguishing, and prioritizing wage liens.
- Senate Bill 5061 | Provides unemployment insurance benefits to high-risk individuals, or those who live with high-risk individuals, who voluntarily quit their jobs during a public health emergency if they cannot work from home for that employer, but are able and available to work from home for other employers.
- Senate Bill 5425 | Concerning extended benefits in the unemployment insurance system.
- Senate Bill 5097 | Expands coverage of the paid family and medical leave program.
39th District Virtual Town Hall Meeting | Thursday, June 24, 2021
Please consider joining me for a 39th District Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m. During the online meeting, I'll share an update on the debates, bills, and decisions made during the 2021 legislative session.
If you would like to submit your town hall questions early, the registration link allows you do to that. Spacing is limited, so register early!
Staying in touch!
Although the 2021 session is now over, please know I am here to serve you year-round. Throughout the interim, I'll be sending business updates and information on my work for the 39th District and the state. Some topics we'll be covering in my upcoming email updates include the bills noted above. In the meantime, I encourage you to reach out to me with any comments, questions, or concerns.
It's an honor to serve you in the state House!
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000