Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session ended two weeks ago on the constitutional deadline, March 10, around 11:30 p.m.
That last day was spent passing the supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets.
The Legislature passed 309 bills this session, many of which affect businesses and the economy.
Here are some business-related bills signed by the governor as of today. You can click on the bill numbers for more information:
- Senate Bill 5505: Reinstating a property tax exemption for property owned by certain nonprofit organizations where a portion of the property is used for the purpose of a farmers market.
- Senate Bill 5713: Providing a property tax exemption for limited equity cooperative housing.
- Senate Bill 5749: Concerning rent payments made by residential tenants.
- House Bill 1794: Requiring an employer to reimburse employee fees when a paycheck is dishonored by nonacceptance or nonpayment.
- House Bill 1874: Reducing barriers to professional licensure for individuals with previous arrests or criminal convictions.
- House Bill 1930: Concerning license renewals for cosmetologists, hair designers, barbers, manicurists, and estheticians.
- Senate Bill 5701: Determining monthly wages for workers' compensation.
- Senate Bill 5763: Eliminating sub-prevailing wage certificates for individuals with disabilities.
- Senate Bill 5800: Modifying tax and revenue laws in a manner that is estimated to not affect state or local tax collections by easing compliance burdens for taxpayers, clarifying ambiguities, making technical corrections, and providing administrative efficiencies.
- Senate Bill 5873: Concerning unemployment insurance, family leave, and medical leave premiums.
- Senate Bill 5890: Clarifying eligibility for the presumption for workers' compensation for all personnel working at a radiological hazardous waste facility.
- House Bill 1733: Establishing voluntary exemptions to the long-term services and supports trust program for certain populations.
- House Bill 1732: Delaying the implementation of the long-term services and supports trust program by 18 months.
- Senate Bill 5564: Protecting the confidentiality of employees using employee assistance programs.
- Senate Bill 5940: Creating a liquor license endorsement.
I also want to highlight Senate Bill 5980. The bill would increase the Business and Occupation Small Business Tax Credit for the first time in nearly 30 years. It passed the Legislature unanimously and was delivered to the governor's office on March 11. It now awaits his signature.
The 2022-23 supplemental capital budget includes more than $7.4 million for our community, including:
- $4.3 million – EvergreenHealth (Monroe);
- $1.7 million – Darrington Wood Innovation Center (Darrington);
- $550,000 – Wastewater lift stations improvements/upgrades (Concrete);
- $515,000 – Monroe ECEAP Facility (Monroe);
- $278,000 – Smokey Point Park (Arlington); and
- $134,000 – Sultan-Monroe Commercial Kitchen (Monroe).
These investments are in addition to the $34 million appropriated for the 39th District last year.
A “Transformational” transportation package
In this email update, I will delve into some of the details of the transportation package. But first, a few quotes:
“Transformational… The Legislature ended a short but historic session Thursday night, headlined by a once-in-a-generation transportation revenue package that will reduce emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels.” – The governor's news release.
“[This transportation package] is going to invest in every corner of the state in a responsible way.” – The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in The Everett Herald.
But does this plan really invest in “every corner” of our state?
There are no transportation projects further east on Highway 2 from the trestle. There are no projects for Granite Falls or Sedro-Woolley.
In that same Herald article, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee explains how we arrived at this unequal outcome: “We have a different vision of what our state's transportation system should be,” he says.
Let's look closer at this “transformational” transportation package.
More taxes and fees
The 16-year, $17 billion transportation package dubbed Move Ahead WA, is funded in several ways:
- $5.4 billion from auction proceeds from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA).
- $1.4 billion from $50 license plate fees for new vehicles and $20 on motorcycles.
- $195 million by increasing the enhanced driver's license price by $7 per year.
Proponents of the package claim that it does not raise gas taxes. This is not technically true.
The largest source of revenue for the package comes from a bill that passed last year: Senate Bill 5126, also known as the Climate Commitment Act. This act imposes a carbon tax that increases taxes on gasoline by more than 18 cents per gallon when we're seeing record gas prices.
You can visit the Washington Policy Center's article on this topic for more detail.
Move Ahead WA also makes it illegal to buy, sell or register a non-electric vehicle built-in 2030 or later in Washington state.
Spending in the transportation package is primarily focused on the needs of the Puget Sound region, while neglecting the preservation and maintenance of our state's roads and bridges.
While drivers are mainly paying for the package, the majority party appropriated $1.3 billion for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, $3 billion for transit programs, $1.5 billion for ferries, and $150 million for high-speed rail.
The bulk of the $2.8 billion for new projects is focused on the western half of the Cascade Mountains. And while the Washington State Department of Transportation has said they need more than $1 billion per year for 10 years for preservation and maintenance, this 16-year package only appropriates $3 billion.
The overall result of this plan's approach is what you would expect to see when nearly half the state's representatives were excluded from the discussion: an expensive, narrow, prescriptive package that favors one region of our state over others.
Looking ahead, I hope that we have a Legislature next year that will take a broader more commonsense view, one that will consider the needs of all our communities.
Move Ahead WA was broken into two separate bills. Additionally, the Legislature passed a separate supplemental transportation budget.
You can click on the bills below for more details:
- Senate Bill 5974: Move Ahead WA's taxes and fees.
- Senate Bill 5975: Move Ahead WA's spending.
- Senate Bill 5689: The supplemental transportation budget.
Thank you for reading this update and being engaged in the legislative process! Please stay in touch. You can always contact me directly.
It's an honor to serve you!