Legislature finishes 2019 session

Sen. King e-newsletter banner

May 6, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

After 105 days, the 2019 legislative session ended Sunday night, April 28. It was a very busy session this year, as hundreds of bills were passed by the Legislature. The Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives approved a variety of new taxes and fees. All told, the tax increases passed by the Democrats amount to $2.5 billion over two years and $7.5 billion over the next four years. These taxes will affect many job providers, including some of the largest employers in Washington, plus 40 categories of professional services.  

Bill-signing photo

During the final week of the session, I joined Gov. Inslee at bill-signing ceremonies for three bills I introduced this session: Senate Bill 5909, SB 5394 and SB 5471. You can learn more about these proposals here.   

Operating budget increases spending 17 percent

The operating budget covers most of the day-to-day costs of state government, including public schools (K-12, colleges and universities) and most state departments and agencies.

Entering the session, Republicans argued that our strong, vibrant state economy had generated enough additional revenue of $5 billion over the next four next four years to handle even a 14-percent spending increase without the need for more or new taxes.

In the end, Democrats approved a new two-year operating budget that is $52.4 billion, which is more than 17 percent above the current budget. This represents the largest budget growth in 30 years. 

This chart shows the different tax increases that were passed this session:  

Tax increase chart

A more responsible approach would have been to balance the operating budget using existing revenues the state has collected thanks to our strong economy, while ensuring the treasury has ample money in reserve to protect against a downturn in the economy.

Capital budget funds many projects in 14th District

During the final weekend of our session the Legislature passed a new two-year state capital budget. The $4.9 billion budget funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public schools, higher-education facilities, public lands, parks and other assets throughout Washington. I’m pleased that the capital budget provides funding for many projects in our district. To learn about the 14th District projects funded in the capital budget, read my news release about them here.

Sen. King floor speech

Addressing the full Senate during floor debate on a bill.

Transportation budget funds local projects

As ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, I worked closely with Transportation Committee Chair Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, on a new state transportation budget. This new budget includes nearly $10 billion in spending, without relying on an increase in the state gas tax. We took existing transportation funds and used them as wisely as we could. The budget provides money for various projects throughout the state, and it helps continue the very expensive highway culvert replacement process required by a recent court decision.  I joined the rest of the Senate in voting in favor of the final transportation budget, which was passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor for final consideration. You can go here to view the list of 14th District projects funded in this budget.  

Improved 'H-2A' bill passed by Legislature

During the final weeks of this session, I devoted a lot of time and energy to improving a bill that would greatly affect Washington’s agriculture industry. As I wrote in my midsession e-newsletter, the Senate earlier in the session had passed Senate Bill 5438, which would create an “Office of Agricultural and Seasonal Workforce Services” within the state Employment Security Department and allow ESD to impose new fees on Washington farmers who hire H-2A foreign guest workers. When I spoke from the Senate floor against the bill prior to that vote, I said I would continue to work with other stakeholders to improve the bill. I’m pleased to report that we succeeded. The final version of this bill as passed by the Legislature does not include the proposed fees on farmers. Had the fees stayed in the bill, it would have resulted in another added burden to our already struggling farmers.

Legislature passes controversial vaccine bill

One of the most controversial bills passed by the Legislature this year deals with vaccines. In Washington, children attending school or a licensed day care center are required to have proof of full or ongoing immunization. Exemptions are allowed when immunizations are not advised for medical reasons, if they are contrary to religious beliefs, or if a parent has a philosophical or personal objection to the immunization.

House Bill 1638 removes the personal or philosophical objection exemption for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The bill was introduced after a measles outbreak in Clark County earlier this year. During the final weeks of the session, my office received over 1,000 emails and hundreds of phone calls from constituents about this proposal. Many were in favor of it, but most were opposed. When the bill was brought to the Senate floor two weeks ago, I voted against it. The bill was passed by the Legislature nearly along party lines and is now before the governor. I appreciate everyone who took time to contact my office and express their views on this emotional issue.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your 14th District state senator. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


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