Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Along with my colleagues, I've been spending long days and late evenings debating and voting on bills on the House floor. With a mere three weeks left in the 2020 session, critical legislative deadlines are passing by quickly.
Watch my recent legislative update video to learn more about key measures recently debated and decided on the House floor.
Follow this link to see an updated list of bills approved by the House.
This week we reached house of origin cutoff. To stay alive, bills must be voted out of the chamber in which they originated or they are considered “dead” for the year and will progress no further in the legislative process. The only exception to this rule are bills necessary to implement the budget, which are always in play.
Gun bills defeated
Limiting the number of rounds that can be stored in gun magazines and another which would require background checks to purchase ammunition were just two of the really bad gun-control bills this session. How do we defeat bad bills? Sometimes it's as simple as coming up with the wherewithal for a good old-fashioned parliamentary fight. Amendments. Lots of amendments.
My Republican colleagues and I submitted an “unusually high” number of changes to the original gun bills. House of origin deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday. Those amendments would have caused the debate to continue for an additional day or two. That was too much for the other side. We were happy to allow them to concede. On this issue, in particular—it was good to see the rights of legal firearm owners upheld in the people's House.
Telephone Town Hall
I invite 19th District constituents to join me for a telephone town hall taking place on Monday, Feb. 24. I'll be answering your questions and providing an update on the 2020 session. The community conversation, which is similar to a call-in radio show, begins at 6 p.m.
What: Telephone Town Hall
When: Monday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dial: (360) 209-6593 Press * (the star key) to ask a question.
As expected, February's updated state revenue forecast shows a substantial surplus in money collected from current tax structures. An estimated $606 million of unexpected new revenue in the near term (2019-20) and $536 million in the mid-term (2021-23). That's a total of more than $1 billion of surplus revenue.
No doubt, there will be a rush of proposals about what to do with this surplus revenue. This money should not be spent foolishly. In my opinion, the best thing we can do for the state's economy is to give at least a portion of this financial windfall back to the people who sent it to us.
We can do that by reforming our property tax formulas. At the start of the 2020 session, expecting this extra revenue would be realized, I introduced House Bill 2222 that would reduce state property taxes in an amount roughly equal to the surplus.
I've recently introduced another measure, House Bill 2938, that would adjust the assessed property values—on which property taxes are calculated—by 25 percent. This would only apply to state property taxes with no change to the county portion.
Real tax relief. It's something the people want and something they deserve. And frankly, in the wake of the $30 car tab and other tax-related issues, it's the least we can do.
With surplus revenue coming in, why more tax increases?
Good question. A couple of weeks ago, Republicans put up a nearly five-hour fight against a bill that replaces a business and occupation (B&O) tax measure from last year and extends those taxes to an additional 4,400 businesses.
Senate Bill 6492 is a bad bill—bad for employers and bad for their employees. According to Democrats, the tax increases are necessary to replace surcharges on businesses enacted last year that would help pay for college financial aid entitlement programs. Apparently so many students signed-up they ran out of money.
Republicans countered that raising taxes (again) on businesses across the state would increase the cost of consumer products—hitting the poorest among us the hardest. Like other tax increases we've seen the past few years, the measure was rushed through the legislative process. A mere four days after approval, the governor signed it into law.
As always, please feel free to contact me any time to share your comments, questions, and concerns about this year's legislative session or anything else that's on your mind. I look forward to hearing from you.