Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you're having a great Friday afternoon. The sun is out over here in Olympia today, but in more ways than one, we've had a dark cloud hanging over the Capitol this week as House Democrats and the governor moved closer toward raising your taxes.
FIGHTING AGAINST TAX INCREASES
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 6130 came to the House floor for consideration. The bill would suspend the Taxpayer Protection Act, Initiative 960. The provisions of I-960 require the Legislature have a two-thirds approval to raise taxes. Not only would SB 6130 make it much easier for Democrats to raise taxes, it also goes against the will of the people.
Tuesday evening, House Republicans held a mini-filibuster on the floor of the House, arguing for seven hours that SB 6130 should be set aside indefinitely. On Wednesday, we took up debate again, using parliamentary rules and procedures in an attempt to kill the bill. We were on the floor during Wednesday morning and then again, Wednesday evening, attempting to stop the gutting of I-960. Unfortunately, Democrats prevailed, passing SB 6130 with a vote of 51-47. The measure goes back to the Senate for final approval before going to the governor for her signature. (If you would like to learn more about our debate on this measure, click here to read my news release.)
As we were debating this measure, the governor was already preparing her tax package. On Wednesday, she she announced a proposal to increase taxes by $760 million, including:
- Repealing a B&O tax credit on syrup
- Adding as much as 6 cents a gallon to the taxes you pay on fuel at the pump (This would really impact our local farmers.)
- A new 1-cent-per ounce tax on bottled water
- A new tax on carbonated beverages (5 cents per 12 ounces)
- Increasing the cigarette tax by $1
- Imposing the sales tax on (non-floured) candy and gum
- Increasing taxes for livestock nutrient management (livestock manure clean-up)
In addition, at least 77 bills have been introduced in the House to raise taxes and fees.
I'm very concerned how these taxes would hurt our local families who are struggling in these difficult economic times and the impact they could have on employers, especially those on the brink of survival.
I believe state government should produce a fiscally-sound budget that finds efficiencies and cuts spending, rather than ask taxpayers to bail out legislators' bad spending habits. So I will continue to fight hard against these tax increase proposals.
FIRST PRIME-SPONSORED BILL GAINS UNANIMOUS APPROVAL
The process of passing a bill is not an easy one. In fact, our founding fathers purposefully made the process difficult to ensure that only well-thought legislation becomes law. So I'm very pleased to report the House gave unanimous approval to one of the bills I prime sponsored. House Bill 2525 provides a small technical fix to legislation approved last year that will help Richland, Kennewick and Pasco pool their resources, with voter approval, for an aquatics center.
I invite you to read more about my bill from my press release by clicking here.
JOIN ME ON MONDAY FOR A TELEPHONE TOWN HALL!
Now that we are heading into the last three weeks of the 60-day legislative session, it is vital that I hear from you. That's why my fellow seatmate, 16th District Rep. Maureen Walsh and I are holding a town hall meeting over the telephone this coming Monday evening, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. We'll be making calls to citizens throughout the district, but I also invite you to call in and join us on our one-hour “community conversation” program.
The teleconference is held much like a radio call-in program, in which we will be taking calls and answering questions from constituents. You're welcome to listen throughout the hour and at any point that you wish to ask a question, just press *3 (Star 3) on your telephone keypad. An operator will assist in connecting you to us.
If you would like to dial in between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, here's the number: 1-877-229-8493. When prompted, enter PIN number 15516. (Click here to get more information about our telephone town hall meeting)
I hope to talk with you then.
I do greatly appreciate the honor of representing and serving you. Please call or e-mail my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions.