As a member of the Washington State House of Representatives, I send occasional email updates designed to keep you informed about the issues being debated in the Legislature that may impact our communities and Washington state. If you think you received this message in error, or do not want to receive email updates from me, simply click on the link below to unsubscribe from my email list.
It was an honor to stand on the floor of the House chambers and participate in the opening ceremonies as the 2017 session got underway. I have a great deal of respect for the people and the institution. Thank you for sending me to Olympia to represent you.
The scheduled 105-day legislative session looks to be a challenging one. Every legislative cycle and budget is two years. In odd-numbered years, the “budget year,” discussion and debate is normally dominated by the governor's proposed operating, transportation and capital budgets. This year is no exception.
Survey: What are your legislative priorities?
In order to do my job effectively, I need to hear from you. It helps me do a better job of representing you. I'd like to invite you to complete a brief online survey on some important issues the Legislature will be working on this session. Please take a moment and click here to fill out a short survey and let me know what's important to you.
Thank you in advance for taking a few moments to share your opinions.
News about the budget
The media has given quite a bit of attention to the governor's proposed budget plan. Here's my take on it: The plan works great for everyone but the people who pay taxes.
The governor's proposed budget would result in the largest tax hike in Washington's history. When fully implemented, the result would be more than $7 billion in new taxes. The proposal creates an income-tax with a 7.9 percent tax on capital gains. It calls for a 'carbon tax' on fossil fuel emissions, and raises the B&O rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5. And, it includes a jump in taxes for thousands of service-industry businesses, affecting everything from beauty parlors, to law firms, to janitors and even funeral parlors.
Here's the argument – we need to fully fund education. I wholeheartedly agree, it is imperative the children of this state get a great education. But, this plan goes far beyond the needs of the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision. And, while the governor's plan looks to invest significantly more money in education, it does not appear to do anything to prevent future litigation.
Instead of demanding more money, why not start by setting priorities for education funding as our first response to McCleary? We should be focusing on levy equalization. We have pressing needs in our state. Fixing our mental health program and improving school funding are at the top of the list. But, we should not start from a proposal that's only plan is to drain our pocket's. You can read more about the governor's budget proposal here.
Naselle Youth Camp
The governor's proposed budget seeks to close the Naselle Youth Camp. This successful rehabilitation camp is run by the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The camp is highly effective in helping young men get the help they need. I believe it is crucial to our state's commitment to rehabilitation.
Although the governor's plan claims the Naselle Youth Camp closure would save about $7.4 million, he is proposing more than $5.3 billion in tax increases for the next two-year budget cycle.
You can read more about my push back on the governor's proposal to close the camp here.
Or, you can watch my recent testimony in the House Appropriations Committee on behalf of the Naselle Youth Camp by clicking here.
Every week I have the opportunity to be a guest on KXRO radio in Aberdeen, where I get to discuss issues before the Legislature. I've also recently been a guest on the “Michael Howe Show.” I will frequently post audio on different topics on my webpage. To see a list of topics or listen click here.
Some thoughts on various gun rights legislation
We often hear about the federal Constitution's Second Amendment, but we must not forget our State Constitution's Article 1, Section 24. It speaks even more clearly to the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right. Not a collective right. This is critically important, especially as we face another attack on our gun ownership rights.
Recently introduced legislation would ban the sale of so-called “assault style” weapons and high capacity magazines. A second bill would make it more difficult to own firearms by requiring “assault style” weapons to be licensed – similar to a concealed-weapons permit. The bill would also raise the minimum age required to buy “assault” weapons and certain magazines. Read more about Senate Bill 5050.
I want you to know I'm committed to protecting responsible gun ownership and the rights of gun owners. New gun legislation intended to stop criminals has very little impact, because by their nature, criminals do not obey laws.
As always, I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to contact my office at (360) 786-7806 or send an email to email@example.com.