Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There are 10 days left of the 2015 legislative session. All this week and last, the House spent the majority of its days on the floor, passing Senate bills and budget-related legislation. Wednesday, April 15, marked the opposite house of origin cutoff day, meaning all Senate bills being considered in the House had to be passed, or else be deemed dead for the session.
The House and Senate seem to still be far apart on an agreed-upon 2015-17 budget, but negotiations are underway. I remain optimistic the Legislature can reach an agreement during these negotiations so we can adjourn by April 26.
Here's a quick comparison of the current House and Senate operating budget proposals: The state is expecting 9 percent more in tax revenues for the 2015-17 biennium, meaning we have more than $3 billion extra we can use for budgeting. Yet some would still like to increase taxes. I believe we can balance a budget without major tax increases that harm hardworking families in Whatcom County.
Watch my latest video update, where I briefly discuss the operating, capital and transportation budget proposals offered this session. Just click on the image below, or click here.
House committee passes transportation revenue bills
Earlier this month, the House passed a $7.7 billion maintenance-level transportation budget — $3.9 billion for capital projects, $2.3 billion for operating costs, and $1.5 billion for debt service payments.
During a late night executive session Tuesday, the House Transportation Committee passed a transportation tax package Tuesday, coupled with watered-down reforms. This package calls for an 11.7-cent gas-tax increase, vehicle fee increases, and other added fees. It also includes funding for the I-5 Northbound on-ramp at Bakerview, SR 539 highway improvements, Orchard Street and Smith Road improvements, and the Thornton Road overpass.
An update on my legislation
The following bills I sponsored this session have passed both the House and Senate, and are now on their way to the governor's desk:
HB 1268 — requires the state Department of Agriculture to determine whether hemp and hemp products should be allowed in animal feed.
HB 1575 — helps small contractors in Washington by requiring all retainage bonds comply with existing statute, and allows the public to require up to an A-minus rating for retainage bonds.
If you have any questions or comments about these bills, or any issue before the Legislature, please don't hesitate to contact me using the information below. And if you know anyone who would be interested in receiving these updates, feel free to direct them to my website at www.representativevincentbuys.com where they can sign up to receive these emails.