Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I believe you sent me to Olympia to focus on jobs, lowering your taxes, decreasing regulations and increasing your freedoms. I want you to know this has been my focus during the first two months of the session. Here are a few of the bills I've co-sponsored:
* House Bill 1099 would repeal the state's “death tax.”
* House Bill 1100 would reduce the state sales and use tax rate.
* House Bill 1168, known as the “Washington State Health Care Freedom Act of 2013,” would basically allow Washingtonians to opt-out of Obamacare. It simply says no federal law shall “compel” Washingtonians to buy a certain product or service, including government-sponsored health care.
* House Bill 1478 would suspend state agency rulemaking.
Unfortunately, reducing taxes and regulations, creating private-sector jobs and increasing your freedoms are not things the majority party in Olympia seems to be interested in. All of these bills are considered “dead” for the year as they failed to pass through their respective policy committees last week. However, I am not deterred. I know why I'm here; I know why you sent me to represent you in the Legislature. I realize that we have to be vigilant with our ideas and solutions. The other side has been very consistent in their march for bigger government and more government control over our lives. We have to be just as persistent – and even more so – to stem the tide!
To see more of our House Republican “good bill/bad bill” list of dead and alive bills, 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% reinstatement of the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax ($140 increase in license fees for a $20,000 automobile), a .3% increase in the Hazardous Substance Tax (ask any farmer how that one will hurt – ouch!), a 15% 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. We were able to take some floor remarks and combine them with music and footage of some of our House Republican members who have served in our armed forces. I thought it was a pretty neat thing to do. I know we have a lot of veterans and active-duty armed forces members in the 39th District. Thank you for your service! If you want to watch the short video, click here.
Presidents' Day and Children's Day
We also recently celebrated Presidents' Day, which happens to coincide with the Legislature's annual “Children's Day.” This is like a “take your kid to work” day for all the staff and members of the House of Representatives. I have to say, it was a pretty special thing to see all of the kids – the families – on the House floor and in the Legislative Building. Ultimately, they are the reason we're down in Olympia in the first place – to make a better state for our children and grandchildren! If you want to watch a little photo montage of the day, click the picture of Libby and me on the right.
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.
Thank you so much for the opportunity and privilege of serving you in Olympia.
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000