Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are over halfway through the 2020 legislative session. We have passed our policy and fiscal committee cutoff dates – meaning House bills not making it out of their respective committees are considered “dead,” unless they are deemed necessary to implement the budget (NTIB). We have begun spending long hours of debate on the House floor on the bills that did make it out of their respective committees.
In this update I want to let you know about an upcoming telephone town hall event, share the survey results from the recent mailer and let you know about the first bill to make it to the governor's desk, which happens to be another tax increase.
Telephone Town Hall
Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, and I are pleased to invite you to take part in an hour-long telephone town hall program on Thursday, Feb. 27 starting at 6 p.m. You will be able to participate from the comfort of your own home.
What: 12th District Telephone Town Hall
When: Thursday, Feb. 27, 6 to 7 p.m.
Dial: (509) 724-2970. Press * (star key) to ask a question.
For more information, call my Olympia office at (360) 786-7954.
Penalties reduced for intentionally infecting others with HIV
The House recently passed legislation that would reduce the punishment for those who intentionally infect another with the HIV virus. I find that to be very concerning. The penalty for someone who steals a candy bar is guilty of the same gross misdemeanor as someone who transmits HIV by misrepresenting their HIV status. There needs to be a higher penalty in the extreme cases where someone knows the dangers of transmitting HIV and intends to transmit HIV. I also have concerns that the legislation would allow a minor as young as 14 years of age to receive treatment to avoid HIV infection without a parent or guardian's consent. I cannot imagine a young person trying to go through something so critical without the support or notification of those closest to them.
Employers taxed again, increasing costs for consumers
The first bill to reach the governor's desk this session is Senate Bill 6492, a fast-tracked tax increase by Democrats. The measure attempts to clean up the mess created by a bill passed at the end of the 2019 legislative session.
The bill from last year created an entitlement for workforce education through a new B&O tax surcharge on businesses providing certain services. However, because it was not well written and difficult to administer a new proposal was introduced this year.
According to the Department of Revenue, the legislation will expand the tax increase to an estimated 4,000 new businesses. In total, an estimated 14,000 businesses that employ 886,000 people will see an increase. We know these new costs will be passed along to consumers.
There is simply no reason to raise taxes at a time of record tax collections for our state.
Republicans offered more than 30 amendments to address the inadequacies of the bill. Unfortunately, none were accepted. The bill passed 52-45 with all Republicans and five Democrats voting against it in the House. The governor signed the bill on Monday.
Keep an eye on Olympia
Check out The Ledger to stay updated on what is happening in Olympia and our state government. It contains stories about the Legislature from around the state, including opinion pieces, video and audio.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about issues before us. It is an honor to represent the 12th District!