2018 session begins with new power shift in Legislature

2018 legislative session • January 12, 2018 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

I hope your new year is off to a great start.

The 2018 session is underway. The House convened for opening-day ceremonies on Monday. Sworn in for the first time in the House chamber was my new seatmate and friend, Rep. Carolyn Eslick. She is the former mayor of Sultan and we know she will do a great job. 

I had an opportunity on this day to give a House floor speech. I discussed what "One Washington" means to the communities that House Republicans represent. Later in the day, I also sat down with TVW to discuss some of these priorities -- including why our state needs a permanent Hirst solution. My colleagues, Reps. Jim Walsh and Vincent Buys, also weighed in on this issue in The Seattle Times on Wednesday.

State of the state address, Republican response

The House and Senate came together on Tuesday for a joint session to hear the governor’s annual state of the state address. Following the Republican response, which was delivered by Sen. Sharon Brown, I joined other Republican leaders in a news conference to answer questions from reporters and outline our vision for the 2018 session.

AP Legislative Preview

Another event that takes place each year and offers a window into the session is the AP Legislative Preview. I participated in the Leadership panel, while Rep. David Taylor represented us on the K-12 education funding panel. The January 4 event concluded with remarks from the governor. I encourage you to watch the event if you have the time.

Staying connected

We are trying something new this year. Each Friday afternoon, we will send out an audio clip called the Capitol Calendar. This is a snapshot of what will be happening at the Capitol the following week. Please consider giving it a listen.

You can also stay connected through the Capitol Buzz (weekday compilation of online articles), our Facebook page and our Twitter handle.

Even though it’s a short session, there’s a lot of work to do (see below). Our members and staff are working long hours to get the job done. As always, we welcome your input. Please contact us if you have an ideas to pass along or if we can ever be of assistance.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7967

Rep. Carolyn eslick

House welcomes Rep. Carolyn Eslick 

Rep. Carolyn Eslick was appointed to the House by members of the Snohomish County Council, Skagit County Commission and King County Council on September 20. She replaced John Koster, who was chosen to lead the County Road Administration Board.

Carolyn has hit the ground running and already signed on to 40 bills. She sits on the Capital Budget and Early Learning and Human Services committees. You can learn more about Carolyn here.

Eight for 2018

60 days

Like every even-numbered year, the 2018 session will run 60 days. There’s a lot of work to be done in a short time. You can find weekly planners, which include committee schedules and important legislative dates, here.  

Senate power shift

With the election of Sen. Manka Dhingra in the 45th District in November, control of the Senate shifted from Republican to Democrat (25-24). Both chambers in the Legislature are now controlled by Democrats.

Will there still be a spirit of bipartisanship that we saw the last five years that led to major accomplishments? Will Democrats hold state government accountable for its failures? 

Hirst solution, capital budget

Two issues front and center are finding a permanent Hirst solution and passing a capital budget, which funds construction and repair of public buildings, infrastructure and other long-term investments in our state. This represents unfinished business from the 2017 session. A recent opinion piece from Reps. Vincent Buys and Jim Walsh explains the importance of finding a permanent Hirst solution for property owners across our state.

Will urban Democrats finally allow a permanent Hirst solution to move forward?

Education funding

In a November 15 order, the state Supreme Court found the Legislature enacted an education-funding system that, when fully implemented, will achieve constitutional compliance. It also said House Bill 2242, passed in 2017, met the state’s obligation to amply fund basic education. That’s the good news.

The bad news: The court also said the Legislature did not meet the full funding deadline of September 1, 2018, because the salary phase in will be completed in the 2019-20 school year under current law. As a result, the court retained jurisdiction over the case, maintained a fine of $100,000 per day and ordered full implementation by September 1, 2018.

How will the Legislature respond to this order?

Supplemental budgets

Short sessions are designed to make minor adjustments to the state’s three budgets: operating, transportation and capital. We still need to pass a 2017-19 capital budget, which is a priority.

With their new majority in the Legislature, will Democrats push for increased spending and new programs beyond what normally occurs in a supplemental year?

Major tax increases

Despite a state law stating, “A county, city, or city-county shall not levy a tax on net income,” Seattle is attempting to establish a local income tax. Fortunately, a King County Superior Court Judge ruled Seattle’s local income tax is illegal on November 22. Seattle has vowed to fight on and appeal the decision.

This case is important because proponents of a local income tax want to use it as a test case for a state income tax. We are opposed to this approach and concept, including a capital gains income tax. You can learn more about our efforts to prevent a local and state income tax here. 

Will Democrats push for major tax increases, including a capital gains income tax, this year? Or, will they wait until 2019?

Governor’s controversial climate-change agenda

The governor continues to push his controversial climate-change agenda. This recent Wall Street Journal article, "Climate of Unaccountability," explains some of his tactics. To date, the Legislature has been cool on most of the governor's ideas.

Facing legislative rejection, including a Democratic-controlled House, the governor sought to establish a Clean Air Rule on certain employers through his Department of Ecology. A Thurston County Superior Court judge invalidated this rule due to a lack of statutory authority on December 15. You can learn more here.

Will the governor convince Democrats to pass his controversial energy tax now that they control both chambers of the Legislature?  

Sound Transit 

The Sound Transit 3 controversy continues in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. From sticker shock on car tabs because of an unfair formula, to projects over budget, Sound Transit and its massive budget are under the microscope. The costs of Sound Transit 3 car-tab increases are so expensive and burdensome that there’s been a bill introduced to allow payment plans for them.  

The Sound Transit 3 controversy is an issue that reveals a stark contrast in approaches from Republicans and Democrats. This website highlights the differences in approaches in 2017. The debate continues in 2018.

Will Democrats hold Sound Transit accountable and allow meaningful car-tab relief to move forward? 

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