Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are halfway through the legislative session. We have reached our first major deadlines of this year's legislative session. Both policy and fiscal committee cutoff dates have passed. What that means is policy bills that did not make it out of their respective policy committees by the cutoff date are considered “dead” for the session.
We have also passed our fiscal committee cutoff. Fiscal committees include the Appropriations, Finance, Capital Budget and Transportation committees. Like the policy cutoff, all fiscal-related bills must be passed by the fiscal committee cutoff date or they are or also considered “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the budgets – operating, capital, and transportation – are exempt from the cutoffs.
There has been a significant amount of legislation introduced this session. As of today (Monday), there have been 1,397 House bills introduced and 1,269 Senate bills – over 2,600 bills in 57 days. At one point, we were averaging more than 56 bills being introduced a day. Keep in mind we are only in session for 105 days.
Not all bills see the light of day, but it gives you an idea of what it may be like to keep track of legislation.
Town hall meeting
Rep. Mike Steele and I will be holding a town hall meeting on Saturday, March 23. We will give an update on the legislative session and take questions. I encourage you to attend. Here are the details:
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2019
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Wenatchee Valley College, The Grove Recital Hall, 1300 Fifth Street
We look forward to seeing you there.
Rep. Goehner and colleagues wait for House floor debate to begin.
Working for the 12th District
We have been working with the lead legislators on the House Capital Budget Committee on potential capital projects for the 12th District. Those projects include:
Twisp Civic Building and Emergency Operations Center: The new facility would be a self-reliant, functional, and an energy efficient emergency management command center, public administration building and community space. The proposed project is a critical need for Twisp and future emergency management for the greater Methow Valley.
Substance Use Disorder Facility in Chelan County: We are working to obtain funding for the assessment and design of the 327 Okanogan Building renovation, or getting an estimated cost for building a new facility capable of housing all present departments and maintain current level of treatment services.
New Path, Columbia Valley Community Health (CVCH) office renovations: New Path is to be launched as a new outpatient substance use disorder treatment program as part of CVCH.
Transparency with fuel taxes
My first piece of legislation has made it out of the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate for consideration. House Bill 1633 would make the posting of state and federal fuel tax rate information by fuel pump inspectors permanent.
Our citizens deserve transparency with taxation. People already know what taxes they pay on most services. It should be that way with fuel. My bill makes a law permanent that was part of the transportation budget last biennium.
I think it also adds an element to accountability. Washington has the third-highest gas tax in the country. It should be noted that our state Senate is pushing another gas tax increase as part of a transportation package.
Rep. Goehner is congratulated by colleagues after his first bill passes the House.
Property sold in foreclosure proceedings
My House Bill 1634 has also passed the House. This bill would officially make any property sold by a county treasurer in a tax lien foreclosure sale to be sold “as is.” It provides some consumer protection for counties and local treasurers. Most of the public is not familiar with the “as is” law. This creates problems when the buyer expects to be able to build or modify the property in a way the county or city does not allow. This bill would protect local governments from litigation by purchasers who are unaware of restrictions on the foreclosed parcels. In today's world of turning houses and buying fixer-uppers, this is much-needed legislation.
Low carbon fuel standard
We have seen some very concerning pieces of legislation in the first half of the session. The low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) legislation came before us in the House Transportation Committee.
House Bill 1110 would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt, by rule, standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy in transportation fuels over time. This is modeled after California's LCFS.
The California Energy Commission reported that 16 cents has been added to a gallon of fuel due to its LCFS program. This number is expected to increase as the program is fully implemented.
I voted against this measure in committee. It lacks transparency, would not significantly improve the environment and does not generate any new funding for our transportation infrastructure. It would also cost $1.8 million to administer.
One of our more lively debates of the session has been on the presidential primary, Senate Bill 5273. The bill moves Washington's presidential primary vote to the second Tuesday in March from late May with the hope of Washington state being more relevant in the selection of the presidential candidates.
However, I believe the legislation disenfranchises voters. Washingtonians who do not declare a party preference would not be able to participate in the state's presidential primary. Republicans offered several amendments to allow voters to participate without declaring a party preference or casting a vote as an unaffiliated voter. All were defeated.
Voters in Washington state like their independence. Some estimate we could see up to 1 million voters decide not to participate in the primary because of having to choose a party. Their vote, along with their party selection would also be public and the political parties would be able to use that information in preparation for future elections. Many of our concerns can be found in a Seattle Times column: 'Highway robbery': How our presidential primary is also a marketing scheme, run through your ballot. The bill passed the House 54-42, with all Republicans and one Democrat voting “no.” It had already passed the Senate and is awaiting the governor's signature.
Stay in touch
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this legislative update or the issues before us. There are many issues before us and your feedback is important to me. I expect us to be debating many high profile issues in the next few weeks. I encourage you to stay in touch with my office.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you!