Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today is the 31st day of session. Last week marked “bill cutoff,” or the deadline for House bills to be voted out of House committees or they are considered dead. Here's an update on some bills that might interest you, along with their “dead or alive” status:
- House Bill 2415 – would define gang intimidation and set penalties for the crime: ALIVE
- House Bill 2550 – would give local governments ways to go after gang members with nuisance ordinances, restraining orders and civil injunctions: ALIVE
- House Bill 2603 – would require a two-day compliance opportunity for small businesses before state penalties can be assessed: ALIVE
- House Bill 1871 – would allow Washingtonians to choose from a wide variety of health care plans available in other states: DEAD
- House Bill 2432 – would recognize hydropower as a renewable resource under the Energy Independence Act (Initiative 937): DEAD
- House Bill 2772 – would require accountability for state expenditures that address climate change and greenhouse gas reductions: DEAD
- House Bill 2501 – would encourage the Department of Fish and Wildlife to graze their lands in order to receive payment-in-lieu of taxes funding from the counties: DEAD
- House Bill 1738 – would add a $3 surcharge on court filings to pay for Supreme Court justices' political campaigns: ALIVE
Last week, a measure was introduced to establish a state-run bank. I find it contradictory the state cannot balance its own budget, but wants to enter the banking business. Meanwhile, our local and community banks are struggling due to extra regulations by the federal government after major lenders failed. These community banks are the thread that hold small businesses and agriculture together, lending credit so these employers and producers can operate. I am very concerned about the response to the financial meltdown and what it is doing to our local communities. I'm supporting a resolution be sent to Washington D.C. that asks for support for community lenders.
The governor's budget introduced in December, which she immediately said she could not support, proposed gutting levy equalization funding. Levy equalization is the mechanism to ensure we have uniform education funding across the state. It provides funding for property-poor school districts so all children have equal opportunities in the classroom. The governor did not adequately prioritize education, the paramount duty of the state. There are other places to find savings in the budget to balance our shortfall, without raising taxes and without taking more from schools.
Did you know?
- 217 school districts receive levy equalization (out of 295 total districts in the state) for a total of $210.5 million.
- Washington has “imported” more than twice as many offenders – 2,393 – from other states through interstate compacts than we have “exported” – 1,046 – to other states.
- From 2002 to 2007, there were 29,000 less acres in agriculture.
Agriculture is our past and our future
The only way our state can get out of this economic downturn is by creating jobs that help people succeed, ultimately providing more revenue for vital state services. In Washington, agriculture is one of our largest employers, and our state is heavily dependent on, and benefits from, our global trade. A business and occupation tax has been propo
sed on agriculture, and I intend to fight to defeat that proposal. Unlike other industries, agriculture buys supplies retail and sells wholesale, so producers are already paying sales tax on what they sell.
Growers and producers are now producing more, with the value of crops increasing, despite the fact there is less land for growing. I believe we must help growers, producers and manufacturers be successful here if Washington is going to be the leading state in the West to come out of this recession.
Please contact my office with any questions or concerns about these or any issue. It's an honor to serve you in Olympia.