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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Tomorrow is the final day of the scheduled 60-day legislative session. We've been busy working on the House floor, sometimes late into the evening. We worked Saturday to vote on bills and move them to the opposite chamber, and eventually for the governor to consider.
One tax down, another on life support
The good news is that it appears the governor's carbon tax (which would have increased energy and gasoline prices) is dead for this session. There is a bill still alive to require utilities to reduce carbon. We must balance this reduction without disproportionately raising prices. At the same time, we must protect the reliability of our energy grid by not hamstringing utilities with unreasonable mandates.
The 7 percent capital gains tax still remains an option, even though it is on life support. The House Democratic supplemental operating budget that passed the House last week relies on income from the capital gains tax. House Bill 2967 has yet to be brought to the House floor for a vote.
Before the Legislature adjourns Thursday, we still must vote on final compromise supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets. There's still much work ahead before we adjourn. However, I remain optimistic that we can finish our work on time.
The struggle for open and transparent government in the Legislature
More than 320 bills have come to the House floor for debate and a vote to send them to the Senate. Among those was Senate Bill 6617 regarding the Legislature Public Records Act. It was probably one of the more controversial votes I have taken during my time in the Legislature.
While the bill would have opened legislative records beyond practices of more than 45 years, newspapers across the state, many who were involved as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Legislature, castigated Republicans and Democrats for supporting the bill. It was eventually vetoed by Gov. Inslee and I supported this action because it opened the opportunity to work on better legislation.
I explained my vote in an opinion-editorial that is appearing in several local newspapers. I invite you to read the article here.
A special announcement: I will retire from the Legislature in January
It is hard to believe that it has been more than eight years since I first took the oath of office and began representing you and the 16th Legislative District. It has been an adventure and honor. I've met so many people and made many friends.
The time has come for me to close this chapter in my life and spend more time with my wife, Jan, and my family. I announced Tuesday that I will serve out the remainder of my term, which ends in January 2019, but I will not seek re-election.
When I first considered this office, it was out of growing frustration with the state operating budget. I felt the Legislature was going the wrong way and that it needed a change. It was expanding government, overspending, not putting money away during good economic times, and then asking citizens to dig deeper in their pockets when they could hardly afford it during economic downturns.
Today, I'm proud to say that our budget is on much more solid ground. We have a sizable rainy day fund and a record amount of money going to K-12 education. We also held the line against major tax increases.
I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to every one of you who have contacted my office, offered information, spent time meeting with me, and provided your support.
I will still be working for you through the remainder of the year. So please feel free to continue to call, write or email my office. My contact information is below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7828 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000