Rep. Vincent Buys fights to protect jobs at Ferndale’s Alcoa aluminum smelter

In a procedural move on the House floor Tuesday, House Republicans attempted to bring four bipartisan, jobs-saving bills to a floor vote. All four motions failed on a 50-47 party-line vote.

Rep. Vincent Buys requested his bill that would keep the Alcoa Intalco Works plant operational by extending an aluminum smelter tax preference be pulled from committee to the floor for a vote.

“House Bill 1381 would protect more than 600 Whatcom County jobs at the Alcoa Intalco Works refinery, and millions of dollars in the tax base as a result,” said Buys, R-Lynden. “It’s unfortunate House Democrats let party politics get in the way of this bipartisan, jobs-preserving bill critical to families throughout the Forty-second District. We must keep the market competitive and save these jobs, especially after the drop in the worldwide price of aluminum.”

Buys added that while energy prices spiked in the past, the price of aluminum according to the London Metal Exchange has dropped significantly due to the recession, putting the economic stability of the Ferndale smelter in question. That’s why the Legislature enacted these tax preferences. The Lynden lawmaker would like to see the preferential tax rate for aluminum refineries extended for a few more years until metal prices increase again.

According to a study by economic research and consulting firm Dick Conway and Associates, the Washington aluminum industry has lost more than 6,000 jobs since 1998.

In addition to the aluminum smelter legislation, House Republicans also requested these bills be pulled from committee by advancing to the Eighth Order of Business:

  • House Bill 1769 – would reinstate the high technology R&D tax preference.
  • House Bill 1823 –  would extend the preferential tax rate for food processors.
  • House Bill 2011 – would extend the sales and use tax preference for data-center construction.

The 2015 regular session is scheduled to adjourn April 26.


Washington State House Republican Communications