Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you had the opportunity to participate in the recent virtual tax town hall put on by the Tax Structure Work Group.
I wanted to make you aware of another public meeting on a state issue. As you may know the Washington State Redistricting Commission is going through the process of redrawing the boundaries of our state legislative districts. (They are also redrawing the congressional districts.) Every 10 years our commission goes through this exercise after it has received the census data from the federal government. This is done to ensure each legislative district represents an equal number of residents.
Last week, the commission unveiled its four proposed maps for state legislative districts. Next week, on Oct. 5, there is a public outreach meeting for those who wish to share their thoughts on the proposals. The details are below:
To register for the meeting click here. If you intend to provide public comment at the virtual meeting please review these step-by-step instructions. You can also leave a comment for the commissioners at this email: email@example.com.
Are your insurance rates going up?
In my July 15 email update, I mentioned Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's emergency rule banning credit scoring had kicked in on June 20. Many of you may now be seeing an increase in your home, auto or renter's insurance rates.
Commissioner Kreidler couldn't get any traction with his bill last legislative session, so he decided to use the emergency rule to get around the Legislature. The bill could not make it out of committee in the Senate. There was and is clearly bipartisan opposition to the rule as exhibited by two recent opinion-editorials.
In The Seattle Times, Sen. Mark Mullet said: “Adding on to families' economic burdens is often unwise. But to do so amid the ongoing hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic is downright cruel — and the blame sits squarely on the desk of state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.”
Rep. Brandon Vick also penned an opinion-editorial in The Columbian. In it, he concluded: “If your rates went up, blame Commissioner Kreidler. If you want to do something about it, tell the commissioner how upset you are and then contact your legislators.”
- OPINION: Your insurance premiums should not rise needlessly (Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet, chairs the Senate Business, Financial Services and Trade Committee/The Seattle Times)
- OPINION: Who is causing rate increases? (Republican Rep. Brandon Vick, ranking minority member on the House Consumer Protection and Business Committee/The Columbian)
Kreidler's actions are another example of abusing emergency rules and why we need emergency powers reforms. His actions are adding unnecessary costs on to families as we continue through the hardship of the pandemic.
Increasing concerns over long-term care payroll tax
In my July update, I also discussed the new long-term care payroll tax, the WA Cares Fund. When the tax kicks in on Jan. 1, 2022, employees in Washington state will see 58 cents per $100 come out of their paychecks unless they have purchased a qualified long-term care insurance plan before Nov. 1, 2021 to opt out.
Unfortunately, the reality is if you have not opted out by now, it will be very difficult to do so. This from an article on Sept. 13 in the Washington State Wire:
“The Office of the Insurance Commissioner stated that one company received 66,000 applications for long-term care insurance ahead of the Nov. 1 opt-out deadline, according to KUOW. Last year, the same company only sold 8,000 policies. This rush has overloaded insurance companies, and led many to stop selling policies.”
There is a strong push to suspend or make changes to this program. A bipartisan group of state senators recently sent a letter to the governor asking him to suspend the new tax.
Also, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, who chairs the Senate budget committee, stated in a Crosscut article that she is troubled that she hasn't heard from any constituents who are excited about the program. She added that a special session may be needed to postpone or make changes to the program. At this time, there is no plan for a special session. However, the flaws in the poor public policy need to be addressed.
For more information on this issue, check out our webpage, which includes frequently asked questions. We will continue to update it when more information becomes available, including legislation we are proposing related to the program.
If you have any questions about the issues in this email update or other state government related matters, please do not hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your feedback, questions and concerns.
It is an honor to serve the 12th District in the state House of Representatives.