Dear Friends and Neighbors,
In a little more than a week, the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn the 2018 legislative session. As we take care of the last few to-do items and continue debate on important issues, you can expect to see both chambers putting in some late nights on the House and Senate floors.
During this time, it's important to stay informed about the actions taken by your state Legislature. TVW, sometimes called Washington's version of C-SPAN, just launched an app to make it even easier for you to watch and listen to committee hearings, floor debates, press conferences, and more. You can download the app here.
Of course, you're always welcome to contact me with any questions, ideas, or concerns!
Town hall meeting recap
Earlier this month, Sen. Doug Ericksen, Rep. Luanne Van Werven and I held a town hall meeting in Blaine to provide an update on the 2018 legislative session and answer questions from Whatcom County residents. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their weekend to attend this community event! We enjoyed talking with you about a wide range of topics, including a carbon tax and other tax proposals before the Legislature, gun control and school safety, Hirst, local infrastructure projects, ways to help small businesses, and much more.
I also want to thank those who joined the telephone town hall event we hosted at the beginning of this month. At one point, we had more than 550 people participate, and we were able to get through a number of questions during the hour-long call.
If you weren't able to attend or participate in either of these events, please know you can contact my office year-round by calling (360) 786-7854 or sending an email to Vincent.Buys@leg.wa.gov.
Latest revenue forecast more evidence that we don't need more taxes
The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council recently released its quarterly state revenue forecast and with it came good news. The state is expecting record revenue growth — $1.3 billion more over the next four years than previously expected — thanks to a booming Puget Sound area economy and lower caseloads (entitlement programs and services).
Despite this good news, there are still calls for new and higher taxes in Olympia. Since before session began, the governor has been pushing his carbon tax proposal, which would hike up the gas tax between 18 and 20 cents per gallon and would increase the cost of electricity and natural gas by 5-10 percent. While he's shrouded his argument for a carbon tax in the name of fighting climate change, it's clear his efforts are nothing more than a money grab from middle-class families. That's even more evidenced by the fact his proposal includes dozens of exemptions, including for many who have the financial power to pay for full-time lobbyists in Olympia. Any bill that calls for close to 70 carve outs is neither good, nor effective policy.
If Washington was to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions today and permanently, we would only see a twenty-five one-hundred-thousandths of a degree temperature reduction by 2100.
In addition to that, House Democrats passed their supplemental operating budget proposal, which calls for a capital gains income tax, on party lines last night.
With this projected revenue windfall, I'd much rather see us provide some property tax relief for families currently experiencing sticker shock. Rep. Luanne Van Werven and I proposed a bill earlier this session that would have reduced the state property tax in 2018. Our bill sadly wasn't given a hearing this year. Republicans legislators on the House Finance Committee also offered amendments to the capital gains income tax proposal that would have provided immediate property tax relief, but they were all rejected by Democratic committee members.
Food truck bill advances to governor's desk
My bill to help food truck owners cut through regulatory red tape received unanimous support from the House and Senate, and is making its way to the governor's desk.
Right now, outdated health code regulations that date back to before mobile food units had proper refrigeration and sanitation equipment require food trucks to do most of their food preparation in commissary kitchens. House Bill 2639 would allow food trucks to prepare their food onsite so long as they meet certain, necessary health requirements.
I've been grateful to have the support of several food truck owners and the Washington Food Truck Association in pursuing this bill. Jen Guston, owner of Tacoma's Boss Mama's Kitchen, was recently on KING 5 news talking about the bill. Watch it here or by clicking below.
Thanks for reading this legislative update! If you have any questions about the content of this email, or want to learn more, please don't hesitate to contact me.
It's an honor serving you!