Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are currently in the middle of this year's initial budget review. Here are a few things I would like to share with you.
Fighting proposed tax increases
I have spent the last few days in hearings on several proposed tax bills. Among the new taxes being considered: a carbon tax, a gas tax increase, and an income tax on capital gains.
I strongly oppose these new taxes. It is never a good time to increase costs on individuals, families, and businesses, but perhaps the worst time to do so is during a health care crisis. We don't have a revenue problem in our state, we have a spending problem. And we have a discipline problem.
On Tuesday, my Republican colleagues released an operating budget plan that provides temporary COVID-19 relief, fully funds state priorities like education, health care, infrastructure, and social safety net programs, all without raising taxes.
This legislative session should be about delivering financial relief to people and businesses in the short-term, setting the stage for an economic recovery and being mindful of the long-term effects of new policies. It should not be just another opportunity to raise taxes on the citizens of Washington state.
State of emergency – Yakima County to Phase 2
Yakima County is now in Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. That means restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% capacity and indoor fitness centers can increase capacity to 25%. Additionally, high school sports leagues can start a modified season later this month.
This is good news for our community. Even better news would be the end of the governor's emergency order and a transition to legislative oversight of a safe reopening of our state.
The current health care crisis is a big challenge, but it stopped being an emergency long ago. The governor is in charge of emergencies. The legislature is in charge of crafting policy responses to big challenges.
Olympia making decisions leads to errors like the one we saw last week when Yakima County was kept in Phase 1 because of a data processing error in Walla Walla.
This situation made it all the more clear that state legislators and local elected officials are best positioned to manage the ongoing response to COVID-19 in our community.
Personal responsibility utility bill advances
Government should not have the power to make someone pay somebody else's bills.
That's the premise behind House Bill 1421, which I sponsored. The measure would prevent cities from charging a property owner or tenant for utility services provided to a former resident, meaning that any unpaid utility bills would have to be paid by the person who incurred them.
This is about fairness, plain and simple. The government does not force you to pay for someone else's phone bill or car payment, so why should it make you pay for someone else's utility bill?
The bill passed out of committee unanimously last week and is now awaiting a floor vote. I hope you will email members of the House Rules Committee and urge them to bring this bill up for a vote. You can find their contact information here.
I welcome your emails, calls, and letters. It is an honor to serve you.