Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Now that the Legislature is past the committee cutoff, the House is spending the majority of its time on the floor of the House, debating and voting on various proposals. Monday, March 7 is the deadline for bills from the House to be passed by the House or likely be dead for next year, and the same goes for the Senate. Next week, the House will begin hearing Senate bills that passed in the Senate, and the Senate will begin hearing House bills that passed in the House.
Two of the proposals I prime-sponsored are continuing to move through the process:
- House Bill 1506 would give property owners outside fire protection districts choices to receive fire suppression services and potential buyers the knowledge about land outside the fire service district. In addition, the legislation would allow a fire protection agency to aid in fire suppression outside its jurisdiction without fear of excessive liability. This is an important step in addressing areas in our state without fire protection. We need to respond to wildfires sooner when they're smaller, allowing people to put out fires at less expense, and this proposal promotes that. This legislation passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
- House Bill 1009 would require certain state agencies to consult with the Legislature prior to undertaking an application to the federal government for a new, ongoing or amended habitat conservation plan. Right now, the state agencies are making agreements directly with federal agencies with no legislative review. The decisions made on these conservation plans last for 50 years, having multi-generational impacts. I'm very concerned about these conservation plans, which limit public access to public lands, being made with very little public involvement or accountability.
Last year's taxes are this year's fees
Last year, the majority party in the Legislature passed $794 million in increased taxes on small business, bottled water, soda, candy and other products. By initiative, the people repealed $272 million of those taxes in November.
This year, the majority is introducing 65 different fee proposals to get around the clear message sent by taxpayers in November. More than $302 million in fee increases are being proposed this year. Here is a sampling of the proposals:
- House Bill 1226 would place a fee on distributors and large-quantity consumers of pet food for spay/neuter services for low-income pet owners: $15 million in revenue for 2011-13.
- House Bill 1363 would establish license fees for tanning facilities up to $500 per salon: $146,000 in revenue for 2011-13.
Common sense does not prevail in Olympia
The prevalence of fee increase proposals alone shows government does not understand the clear will of the people for the state to live within its means. Working families must be protected so they can keep more of their hard-earned money and have more opportunities to prosper. This year I supported some common-sense bills:
- House Bill 1275 would allow insects, like ladybugs, to qualify as an organic pest control agent and therefore be exempt from sales tax.
- House Bill 1592 would suspend the Growth Management Act in counties and cities where the unemployment rate exceeds 7 percent for three consecutive months until unemployment drops below 7 percent for at least three months. Much of our district has not seen unemployment less than 7 percent for two or three years. This would give some much-needed relief to local governments trying to provide basic services for its residents.
Unfortunately, neither of these proposals will move forward this year because the majority does not support them.
However, a proposal to license court reporters and extract fees from the industry passed the House, despite the fact that in 525,000 cases, just 14 complaints were made about the reliability of how court reporters were doing their jobs. This is a solution in search of a problem, and I voted “no.”
Another thing we must address are the number of new rules being proposed by state agencies with little oversight in the Legislature or by the governor. This chart shows how many rules have been proposed and adopted over the years:
Half of the rules proposed and adopted are from the Department of Ecology. Clearly this has gotten out of hand. I will continue to serve as a voice of common sense and one that works on your behalf and what you have already asked of state government.
It's an honor to serve you. Please feel free to call or e-mail anytime with questions or concerns, I want to hear your thoughts.