Friends and Neighbors,
We're now past the first cutoff of the 2013 session. A lot of bills are technically “dead” for the remainder of session. To see our House Republican “Good Bill/Bad Bill” list that shows which bills are alive and which are dead, click here.
State Supreme Court Kills Taxpayer Protections
Speaking of “dead,” the state Supreme Court ruled today that the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional. Here's a small excerpt from a statement I sent out to the press:
“The voters have approved some form of taxpayer protections five times in the last 20 years. Yet their own elected officials succeeded once again in removing these taxpayer protections. This time, however, instead of killing them on the House or Senate floor, the higher threshold for tax increases was dealt a death blow by the elected Supreme Court Justices.”
To read the entire statement, click here.
Are you willing to pay 10 cents more in gas taxes per gallon of gas? That's what House Democrats proposed last week. Washington already has the second-highest excise gas tax in the nation at 37.5 cents-per-gallon. If you add the federal government tax (18.4 cents) and then another 10 cents as some in Olympia want to do, we'd be paying about 66 cents in state and federal taxes for each gallon of gas! If their proposal passes, Washington state's excise tax on a gallon of gas will have doubled since 2003 and would be the highest in the nation!
But it's not just about the gas tax. They're also proposing a .7 percent reinstatement of the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax ($140 increase in license fees for a $20,000 automobile), a .3 percent increase in the Hazardous Substance Tax (which will add another 2-3 cents to the cost of fuel for your car and for farmers and loggers' equipment fuel bills), a 15 percent increase in the Commercial Gross Weight Fee, and a $5 increase (registration) and a $12 increase (title transfers) in the county auditor licensing fees.
At the end of the day, I believe we need to “fix it, before we fund it.” We have too many problems within our transportation system as it is. Most of you have probably heard the news about the pontoon problem with the 520 floating bridge project, but in case you haven't, check out the Seattle Times article here. The state has not been protecting or spending tax dollars on transportation projects wisely. There are some reforms and accountability measures that need to be implemented before asking the taxpayers for more. I don't see how we can raise taxes and fees on families, employers and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. We need to find another way.
What do you think? Are you willing to pay 10 cents more for a gallon of gas? Click here to take a survey and leave a comment for me if you'd like.
If you want to view my Q-13 FOX NEWS interview on the gas tax proposal, click here.
If you want to view my video update on the gas tax proposal, click here.
If you want to view my TVW debate with House Transportation Committee Chair Judy Clibborn, click the photo on the right and scroll the timer forward to the 26:30 mark.
If you want to view my KING 5 interview on the governor's new choice for transportation secretary, click here.
I know I am – and judging by the phone calls, letters and e-mails I've received from constituents, many of you are too. My bill (House Bill 1387) to eliminate the periodic replacement requirement for license plates received a hearing in the House Transportation Committee. I'm hopeful that my colleagues will see that current law is nothing more than an excuse for state government to get more money from the public. The Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies already have the ability to stop you if your license plates are not legible. They can give you a ticket and make you get new ones. There's no need to make it a requirement every seven years. A constituent even sent his perfectly good license plates to me in the mail! I couldn't agree with his sentiments more. The law needs to be changed. To view my testimony in committee, click the picture on the left (the one with me holding the license plate) and scroll the timer forward to 1:13:00.
Honoring our Washington State National Guard
A couple of weeks ago, we honored the Washington State National Guard on the House floor with a resolution and a few floor speeches. We were able to take some floor remarks and combine them with music and footage of some of our House Republican members who have served in our armed forces. I know we have a lot of veterans and active-duty armed forces members in the 20th District. Thank you for serving your country and for protecting our freedoms! If you want to watch the short video, click here.
How you can track legislation
While I'm always happy to help keep you updated on legislation in Olympia, there are new, easy ways to track legislation from your computer. Go to www.leg.wa.gov and click on “Bill Search” in the upper right hand corner to find a bill and see where it is in the legislative process. You can also scroll down and click on the “Personal Bill Tracking Lists” to create your own list of bills that you want the system to keep track of. You can create an account and pretty much have as much access as I do from my Olympia office! You can even send comments to me on specific bills!
You can also go to www.washingtonvotes.org to find more information and track legislation. Either way, there are resources out there for you to use. I encourage folks at home to stay involved and spread the word to family and friends.
Thanks again for reading my e-newsletter. It is a privilege serving you in Olympia.