Democrats elect new House Speaker

2019 interim • August 9, 2019 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

The big news since our last update is that Democrats elected Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma to serve as the next House Speaker on July 31. She will be Speaker-designate until January, when her confirmation becomes official. 

I would like to congratulate Laurie, who was in my 2011 legislative class, on her historical election. While we will no doubt have vigorous policy debates, I look forward to working closely with her on many issues -- including ways to be more transparent in our processes and more open in our debates. I shared these sentiments in a statement that I sent to the media last week.  

What will a new era in the House bring?  

A new era in the House will begin in January. While it sounds like all of the remaining leadership positions and most of the committee chair assignments will remain the same in the House Democratic Caucus, I assume there will still be some growing pains. However, I expect them to coalesce around a liberal agenda -- including more taxes and spending. Time will tell what this agenda will look like. House Republicans look forward to putting solutions on the table and offering contrast.

The push for new taxes on income

There is a strong movement -- inside and outside of the Legislature -- to create new taxes on income in our state. Look no further than our new House Speaker, who has championed a state capital gains income tax for years -- including sponsoring House Bill 2156 this year. There is also Senate Bill 5928, sponsored by a Democrat, which would eliminate the prohibition on local net income taxes.

The city of Seattle also continues to push for a local income tax, with supporters making it clear that it could open the door to a new state income tax. Those of us opposed to this movement assumed our court system would uphold existing law and end the local and state income tax dreams, but a state Court of Appeals ruling on July 15 has given them new life. The Washington Policy Center explains the nuances of this case, including what to expect moving forward, in this blog post.

Sen. Steve O'Ban asked Attorney General Bob Ferguson to defend the constitutionality of our state's local income tax ban through a letter on July 17. Unfortunately, he declined. 

We will keep you updated on this important issue.  


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912

Incentivized housing solutions

Rep. Andrew Barkis gave a presentation at the Association of Washington Business Housing Forum in Bellevue on July 8. In the presentation, he identified five tools to make it possible for the private, public and non-profit markets to develop housing stock:

  1. Expedite permitting process at all levels.
  2. Increase zoning density and flexibility.
  3. Tax incentives and exemptions.
  4. Sales tax – develop credit equal to 50% of state and local portion.
  5. Mitigate fees (permit, impact, hookup, etc.).

You can watch a TVW video of the presentation at this YouTube link.  

The health of Puget Sound

In what has become an all-too-common headline, failure of a treatment plant in King County resulted in around three million gallons of untreated sewage discharged into Puget Sound on July 19. The West Point Treatment Plant, which had major problems in 2017, was again the facility that failed. 

The state Department of Ecology said it would investigate the sewage discharge, in addition to a separate incident at the Renton Wastewater Treatment Plant on July 18. The state fined West Point Treatment Plant in September 2017 and required that it make significant investments to prevent future problems. Yet, problems remain.

Here are stories on other failures at King County facilities that have hurt the health of Puget Sound:

Local governments should have to live by the same standards that the state Department of Ecology, under the control of Gov. Jay Inslee, enforces on the private sector and landowners across our state.  

Recent headlines

A lot has happened in the news this last month. Here are some recent headlines:

Republican news

From the House Republican News & Media webpage:

From the Senate Republican News webpage:

Washington State House Republicans







Senate Republicans

All state agencies