Is $8 billion in new taxes just a fantasy for House leaders?

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Dear Friends,

Today is the 101st day of the 2017 legislative session -- just four days away from what should be the end of our work this year. Instead, the Legislature will likely be called back next Tuesday into a “special session,” because the Senate and House of Representatives have not approved a final budget to pay for the next two years of state-government operations.

Our Senate majority did its job, putting the Legislature on a path to wrap up on time – meaning the end of Sunday – by proposing a balanced, sustainable no-new-taxes operating budget. As part of that budget, we passed a fully funded education plan that would increase resources for our schools, while lowering the tax burden on most property owners.

Our Democrat colleagues who control the House of Representatives, however, are demanding more tax dollars from our families and employers even though state government is already expected to collect $3 billion in additional revenue with no change in tax rates.

The budget the House passed is already $11 billion out of balance over four years, because House majority leaders don’t even have the votes to pass their $8 billion in proposed new taxes and other budget bills. For that reason the Senate and House are likely to end the regular session early, this Friday. 

I will continue to work for a responsible, no-new taxes budget that meets our state’s most pressing needs.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you, please write, call or send me an e-mail. It is an honor to serve you in Olympia. 

Sincerely,

New Sig

Sharon Brown
State Senator
8th District

Watch my video update

Is the Senate Transportation plan good for the Tri-Cities

Week 15 Video

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Senate continues to expand public access through remote testimony

remote testimony

Since 2014, Senator Mike Padden and I have worked to increase the opportunities for public participation in the legislative process. We recently requested an update from Senate and House administrators on progress to enable testimony from places outside of the Capitol, especially on our side of the Cascade Mountains.

The responses could not be more different. The House of Representatives failed to respond, while the Senate provided a detailed report about the successes of its pilot program.

Thanks to the hard work of our Senate administration and committee chairs, more citizens are able to participate in the legislative process from locations in the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and Spokane instead of having to make the dangerous, time-consuming and costly trip to Olympia via the mountain passes in the middle of winter.

The failure of the House to respond in kind to the needs of these citizens is discouraging. Quite frankly, it is unacceptable. We must open the legislative process – in both the Senate and the House – to more Washingtonians, and the reluctance to do so on the part of the House must change.

    Governor signs my bill to help farmers leasing land from DNR

    Bill signing

    Today the governor signed my bill to provide certainty to ranchers, farmers and others who lease lands from the state Department of Natural Resources.

    Senate Bill 5051, which passed unanimously in the Senate and the House of Representatives, will require DNR to provide at least 180 days’ written notice and include documentation regarding the termination in any early-termination provision included in an agricultural or grazing state-land lease. It also requires DNR to provide the lessee with written documentation showing that leased land is part of plan for better use, land exchange or sale. The bill will go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of our regular session.

    I began working on this bill after a group of Benton County wheat farmers had their leases terminated early, with little notice. These hard working farmers did nothing wrong; they correctly followed the provisions in their lease with DNR. They purchased equipment and supplies in anticipation of working that land and had the rug pulled out from under them. 

    I’m glad we were able to find a solution going forward, in the form of this new law.

    From the District:

    The Evans Family from Richland

    Evans Family

    I often use this section of my e-newsletter to highlight visitors from our legislative district, most of whom are in Olympia representing an organization or specific interest. But you don’t have to have a specific agenda to stop by and say hello while in Olympia.

    The Evans family from Richland just happened to be in town, touring the Capitol building, when they bumped into my aide, Grant Woods. As it looks like we will soon be starting a special session, there is still time for you to visit our 8th District team here in Olympia. We’d love to see you!

    In the News:

    Fed up with high number of suicides in the Tri-Cities, senator fights back

    health

    April 15, 2017 | Hannah Scott, CBS KIRO 7 - Seattle

    A rash of teen suicides in the Tri-Cities led a state lawmaker on a mission to figure out what was wrong with mental health care for children in Washington state.

    Senator Sharon Brown says she was heartbroken when she heard about the high number of suicides in her area.

    “In the Tri-Cities there have been way too many suicides,” she said. “One suicide is one too many. In Benton County alone in 2015 there were — just for kids between the ages of 15 to 24 — seven suicides. And in Franklin County there were four suicides.”

    In that same year, if you include adults, there were 51 suicides just in the Tri-Cities.

    …Brown decided it was time to have a community sit-down to figure out what was going on. She met with mental health professionals, police, parents who’d lost kids to suicide, and family doctors. One of those doctors brought a small but significant barrier to light; specifically involving the nearly 900,000 children on Medicaid in our state.

    Click here to read the full story.

    April 19, 2017

     

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