Update from Olympia

Sen. Short Banner

February 7, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Greetings from Olympia!

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Majority Democrats in the legislature aren’t listening to voters

We have yet to hit the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session for 2020 and already, the Democratic majority in the Senate have approved additional taxes that are completely unnecessary.

Do you remember seeing 12 advisory votes on your November ballot, which asked you whether taxes adopted by the Democrats during the 2019 session should remain or be repealed? Overwhelmingly, voters in the 7th Legislative District and statewide disagreed that these new taxes are not necessary.  Well… hold on to your wallet, we’re getting ready for round two this year. I want to share with you some of the unnecessary and troublesome pieces of legislation that have come across my desk this session.

B&O tax increase (SB 6492) – One of the majority led tax hikes of 2019 – done in less than 72 hours in the final days of the legislative session -- increased the business-and-occupation tax on providers of professional services (veterinarians, accountants and many others) by 20 percent. Less than one year later, the state’s own Department of Revenue determined the structure of the original tax bill made it unworkable for them to implement.

SB 6492 is being sold as a reduced replacement tax but is really a tax hike that collects $1billion in taxes compared to $773 million in last year’s version. The kicker is the largest employers made a deal that allows them to pay a lower rate while 4,000 smaller businesses that weren’t roped in last year will see new tax increases under this legislation. Who are some of these businesses… mental health providers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, cancer care entities, chemical and substance abuse providers and health care providers in rural underserved areas of our state. And how is this supposed to increase access to healthcare?

Washington has seen tremendous growth with billions more in unexpected revenue. State government has more than enough to operate, and our businesses, families and consumers don’t need a larger tax burden, but every single one of the Senate Democrats said yes to SB 6492. House Democrats also quickly passed this – a sign that they’re not listening to the people either.


Reducing Washington’s emissions – small impact globally, big impact on your wallet

I recently shared with you my concerns about Governor Inslee’s proposal to require a move to low-carbon fuel standards. SB 5412 would require oil refiners to reduce per gallon carbon emissions by 10 percent within 10 years, and ultimately by 20 percent. Because of fuel-supply constraints, this proposal could ultimately increase gas prices by up to 57 cents a gallon. Washington produces about two-tenths of 1 percent of global emissions with about 40 percent coming from transportation. Even if the 20-percent target was achieved, it would only reduce state output by just 8 percent. Global impact would be insignificant, but the damage to families, businesses and our export economy will be crippling.

Unfortunately, there is another bill this session that would punish companies that produce and distribute petroleum and petroleum-based products and natural gas to force emissions reductions. The end result of this legislation will be the substantial increase of fuel and electricity prices, or worse -- could lead to shortages. This needlessly burdens our state’s families and businesses. Washington has done a tremendous job of reducing its carbon emissions on a per capita basis. There is no need to enact these policies.


Telephone town hall a success

Thank you to everyone who participated in the telephone town hall this past Wednesday evening. I appreciate that so many took time to listen to a legislative update from me and Representatives Kretz and Maycumber. It was great to get your feedback and discuss the issues affecting our communities most. If you have questions about the telephone town hall or want to hear what legislative topics were discussed, contact my office at (360) 786-7612.

Visitors from home

This week I had the chance to visit with representatives of our local housing alliance, nurses and nurse anesthetists, retired public and school employees, county officials, credit unions, and wildlife and recreation enthusiasts. Will you be in Olympia between now and March 12, when the session is scheduled to end? If so, call my office and schedule an appointment.

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your state senator. If you need anything, my office is here for you. I can be reached by phone at (360) 786-7612. Please feel free to visit any time.  I would love to see friendly faces from back home!