Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now past the first cutoff of the 2013 session. A lot of bills are technically “dead” for the remainder of session. To see our House Republican “Good Bill/Bad Bill” list that shows which bills are alive and which are dead, click here.
State Supreme Court Kills Taxpayer Protections
As most of you have heard by now the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional. While I don't agree with the Court's ruling, I do think it shows the extreme need to have the Taxpayer Protection Act placed into the state constitution. I sponsored legislation the first day of session to do just that. My fear at the moment is that without the two-thirds protection, a lot of pent-up “spending aggression” from the other side will be unleashed on us all at once. We've already seen proposals from the House majority party to create a state income tax, expand the death tax, raise the gas tax by 10-cents a gallon, and to reinstate the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). With no taxpayer protections in place, who knows what the other side will dream up. We'll have to remain vigilant.
Here is an excerpt from a news release I sent out last night:
“Our citizens want government to live within its means and to stop trying to hold vital state services hostage to a tax increase. Amending our state constitution is something that needs to be done and it needs to be done now.”
To read the entire statement, click here.
Are you willing to pay 10 cents more in gas taxes per gallon of gas? That's what House Democrats proposed last week. Washington already has the second-highest excise gas tax in the nation at 37.5 cents-per-gallon. If you add the federal government tax (18.4 cents) and then another 10 cents as some in Olympia want to do, we'd be paying about 66 cents in state and federal taxes for each gallon of gas! If their proposal passes, Washington would have the highest state excise tax on a gallon of gas in the nation!
But it's not just about the gas tax. They're also proposing a .7 percent reinstatement of the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax ($140 increase in license fees for a $20,000 automobile), a .3 percent increase in the Hazardous Substance Tax (ask any farmer or rancher how much that one will hurt – ouch!), a 15 percent increase in the Commercial Gross Weight Fee, and a $5 increase (registration) and a $12 increase (title transfers) in the county auditor licensing fees.
At the end of the day, I believe we need to “fix it, before we fund it.” We have too many problems within our transportation system as it is. Most of you have probably heard the news about the pontoon problem with the 520 floating bridge project, but in case you haven't, check out the Seattle Times article here.
The state has not been protecting or spending tax dollars on transportation projects wisely. There are some reforms and accountability measures that need to be implemented before asking the taxpayers for more. I don't see how we can raise taxes and fees on families, employers and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. We need to find another way.
What do you think? 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.
Honoring our Washington State National Guard
A couple of weeks ago, we honored the Washington State National Guard on the House floor with a resolution and a few floor speeches. My seatmate, Rep. Brad Klippert, did a fantastic job with his floor remarks! We were able to take his heartfelt comments and combine them with music and footage of some of our House Republican members who have served in our armed forces. I know we have a lot of veterans and active-duty armed forces members in the 8th District. Thank you for your serving your country and protecting our freedoms! If you want to watch the short video, click here.
While I'm always happy to help keep you updated on legislation in Olympia, there are new, easy ways to track legislation from your computer. Go to www.leg.wa.gov and click on “Bill Search” in the upper right hand corner to find a bill and see where it is in the legislative process. You can also scroll down and click on the “Personal Bill Tracking Lists” to create your own list of bills that you want the system to keep track of. You can create an account and pretty much have as much access as I do from my Olympia office! You can even send comments to me on specific bills!
You can also go to www.washingtonvotes.org to find more information and track legislation. Either way, there are resources out there for you to use. I encourage folks at home to stay involved and spread the word to family and friends. This is truly YOUR government.
As always, I'm here to help if you need me. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you in Olympia!