Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I want to thank each and every one of you who attended the town hall events this last weekend. It was great to see so many people taking part and speaking out concerning government operations in Washington state. I appreciate your input and feedback as we move into the final six weeks of the regular session.
We recently reached another cutoff date. Last Wednesday was the final day for us to pass House bills over to the Senate, and the Senate pass bills to us in the House. The most interesting part of the House floor action occurred last Tuesday, March 12. We voted on approximately eight bills before noon, then, the wait began. House Democrats were adamant in getting a universal background check bill passed for firearms purchases. They had informed the press days before it was coming and that it was going to pass; so many television cameras were on site. However, they didn't have the votes needed in their own caucus despite having the majority. Gov. Jay Inslee and Vice President Joe Biden were calling members trying to use their influence on both sides of the aisle. After almost nine hours Democrats informed us we were adjourning for the night. We sat, and we waited, for hours and we did not end up voting on the bill. All the TV cameras left and we all went home quite exasperated but we did stop a poor piece of legislation from being passed into law.
It was frustrating but the silver lining is a lot of bad legislation died as a result. I would like to see us put more focus on improving the economy and putting people back to work rather than spend time on one bill that may, or may not, get out of the Senate.
I also want to let you know my recent video update was focused on firearms and I provide a brief overview of the 2nd Amendment and its history. Click “Klippert's 2nd Amendment video update” to watch it.
House Democrats' transportation tax plan
I have not had the opportunity to get into the details of the House Democrats' gas tax plan in an e-mail update with you to date. So today, I want to share the specifics of their proposed plan as I expect we will end up voting on a transportation package, that probably will include tax increases, before the end of session. That is more of a reality now that only a simple majority is needed to pass tax increases, given the state Supreme Court ruling that the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional.
If the majority Democrat's 10-cent per gallon gas tax comes to fruition, Washington drivers would pay the highest gas tax in the nation, more than doubling the state's gas tax since 2003. When you include federal gas taxes, drivers in our state would pay 66 cents in combined state and federal taxes for every gallon of gasoline they purchase. The proposal isn't just about increasing the gas tax. It would also:
- override I-695 again and reinstate the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, or MVET, at a .7 percent tax rate which amounts to $140 increase in license fees for a $20,000 automobile;
- increase the weight fee by 15 percent for large vehicles. Cost to owners: $102 million overall;
- implement a fee of $25 for each bicycle purchased that is valued over $500. Cost to bicyclists: $1 million overall; and
- increase the hazardous substance tax by 0.3 percent. Cost to farmers and taxpayers: $897 million overall.
Are you willing to pay 10 cents more for a gallon of gas? Click here to take a survey and leave a comment for me if you'd like.
House Republican transportation reforms
When it comes to our transportation system, our caucus is moving forward with a “fix it, before you fund it” plan. What that means is, we believe there are multiple fixes, or reforms, we should look at before we ask you, the taxpayers, to dig into your pockets to pay more. There are pontoon problems with the 520 floating bridge; mitigation for shoreline appeals on that project alone topped $160 million before the Legislature intervened. Our ferry system is not getting the biggest bang for the buck either, and we are paying sales tax on state-funded transportation projects. Our caucus feels these reforms and accountability measures need to be implemented before asking you, the taxpayers, to pay more.
· House Bill 1236 – improves the permitting process.
· House Bill 1619 – suspend Growth Management Act (GMA) requirements in counties with persistently high unemployment.
Making state gas tax dollars go further
· House Bill 1985 – eliminate state and local sales and use tax on new transportation projects.
· House Bill 1986 – require Washington State Department of Transportation to report and address engineering errors.
· House Bill 1984 – limits Washington State Department of Transportation's tort liability.
· House Bill 1989 – 15-year bond terms, instead of the current 30-year bonding practice.
Three bills I have been working on made it out of the House before the cutoff date and are now in the Senate.
- House Bill 1541 was a result of a constituent request. A parent whose son has been diagnosed with epilepsy informed me that under current state law only a school nurse could administer the nasal spray that helps stop his seizures. The bill would allow any designated, trained person to administer nasal spray medications to students. It would be potentially life-saving for her son and others who suffer from epileptic seizures. The bill passed the House unanimously.
- House Bill 1677 was also drafted as a result of a constituent request. Current state law makes it nearly impossible to purchase multiple adult family care homes at one time, even if you are currently providing excellent care to the elderly or the most vulnerable at this time. This bill would allow someone who is currently providing quality care for our elderly and most vulnerable to purchase more than one adult family care home at one time if they have already been providing quality care, to these most special members of our society, for at least one year. The bill passed the House unanimously and has already had a public hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee.
- House Bill 1715 would authorize the special investigations services unit of the Department of Corrections (DOC) to collect, evaluate, collate and analyze data and specific investigative information concerning security threat groups, who pose a threat to DOC operations, and protects that information in the interest of public safety. The bill passed the House unanimously and is in the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee.
I hope you found this update informative. I love you all! Have a great Washington day!