Letter from Olympia

Senator Hans Zeiger 25th District Letter from Olympia
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Letter from Olympia

Dear Neighbor,

This has been an exciting week in Olympia. On Monday, I welcomed my wife Erin and daughter Clara to the Capitol for Children’s Day. It was wonderful to have them join me on the Senate floor with other family members!

Budget update

We are starting this budget year in a great position, thanks to an overall strong economy that raises expectations for state revenue in the 2019-2021 biennium to more than $50 billion! To put that in perspective, when I first started in the legislature in 2011, revenues were just over $30 billion—we’ve come a long way in a short time. Even with huge revenue growth in our state, the governor is proposing that we raise taxes by implementing a capital gains tax and increasing the business and occupational (B&O) tax. We are in the best spot in six years to write a budget within our means and make significant new investments in things like mental health and drug treatment. This is not a time to raise taxes. 

An income tax on capital gains could face constitutional problems, just as a state income tax has in the past. Voters have repeatedly rejected income tax proposals. The migration to states without an income tax is higher than to states with an income tax. It seems that there is a correlation between no income tax and economic prosperity.

Additionally, the governor is proposing an increase in the B&O tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent for all business reporting in the services category. This would affect services such as medical, architectural, legal and janitorial, as well as activities that don't fit under other B&O classifications, such a broker or agent commission income, solid waste collections charges and movie admission charges.

We have extraordinary surplus revenue this biennium thanks to a great economy. We do not need to raise taxes this year. If anything, we should be looking at ways to cut taxes to stimulate the economy further and give back to you, the taxpayers.

WSS

Bill highlights

Each of my legislative updates will highlight bills I am working on and where they are in the legislative process. In this newsletter, I would like to talk about legislation I sponsored to crack down on contractors who do shoddy work, and to end social media extortion. Both bills were inspired by situations involving constituents in the 25th District, and both were heard this week in committee.

Consumer protection from cheating contractors. After multiple constituents contacted me about contractors performing substandard work on their homes, I decided to get involved in finding new ways for homeowners to hold contractors accountable for damaged property. A number of homeowners in Puyallup’s Manorwood neighborhood experienced substandard work on their properties, but they found that they had little recourse. Working with the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), I introduced Senate Bill 5795, which would protect consumers, after reports of shoddy work by a contractor had happened in their neighborhood. 

SB 5795 would allow the L&I to increase a contractor’s bond requirements by up to three times the normal amount if the applicant has had a judgment involving a single-family home. It also would task L&I with convening a work group to consider additional consumer safeguards.

Social media extortion. Under Senate Bill 5495, a person could be found guilty of social media extortion if they commit extortion by means of a threat. The bill would categorize the crime of social media extortion as a class C felony. SB 5495 would also require a social media provider to remove negative social media posts associated with alleged extortion and identified within a copy of a police report.

I’m bringing this bill forward after the Puyallup restaurant Napoli Italiano started receiving bad reviews and web attacks from IP addresses in Romania. After a few days, the restaurant was contacted with a message saying that the bad reviews would stop and be removed if he agreed to wire $900 to an individual in Singapore. If they declined to pay, the bad reviews would continue. Instead of paying, Napoli Italiano took its story to the media, but it had little legal recourse to address the situation.

Meet with your 25th district legislators

Rep. Kelly Chambers, Rep. Chris Gildon, and I held two “Coffee and Conversation” meetings with constituents last weekend—one in Fife and the other in Midland. Please join us for our next Coffee and Conversation open house on March 16. As your voice in Olympia, we want to hear from you on the issues that impact you the most, and we look forward to seeing you in person at one of these informal, drop-in gatherings. Note that the location has changed from Hangar Inn Restaurant to the nearby Civil Air Patrol Building at the edge of Thun Field. Here are the details:

coffee

Contact Me

As always, I value hearing directly from you. If you would like to contact me, please call, email and again, stop by if you’re in Olympia.

Email: Hans.Zeiger@leg.wa.gov

Phone: (360) 786-7648

Thanks for the privilege of serving as your state senator.

All the best,

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