Friends and Neighbors,
Week three of the 2020 legislative session is coming to a close. As I mentioned in my first email update of the year, the pace of 60-day sessions is fast. This 2020 Session Cutoff Calendar outlines the deadlines the Legislature faces in the upcoming weeks.
Low-carbon fuel standard mandate
The most consequential bill to pass off the House floor this week was House Bill 1110 – the low-carbon fuel standard mandate. The bill would direct the state Department of Ecology to adopt standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy in transportation fuels over time. In other words, it would mandate a reduction of carbon intensity of fuels used by Washingtonians. Though it sounds good, it would cost a lot and deliver very little.
As you might expect, this proposal would come at a great cost to both consumers and employers. According to page 57 of this Puget Sound Regional Transportation Fuels Analysis Final Report, a low-carbon fuel standard could raise the cost of gas by up to 57 cents per gallon – which already costs 60 cents more than the mentioned average – and raise the cost of diesel by up to 63 cents per gallon by 2030. This report also says the mandate would reduce the state's Gross Regional Product (pages 100-101) and put our state at risk for hundreds of job losses (page 95) over the next decade.
I voted against this legislation this year – and last year – because it will do very little to improve our state's air quality and will do nothing to generate revenue for our transportation system, but it will cost us plenty. It is too much cost with too little benefit. The chair of the Senate Transportation Committee killed the bill last year, and I remain hopeful it will again be stopped in 2020. You can watch my House floor speech here.
Everyone wants clean air and water. This mandate is just an expensive and inefficient attempt to achieve these goals. Let's also not forget that the private sector continues to innovate as a result of market forces, including more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.
I have introduced new bills this legislative session. Here is a brief description of some of them:
- House Bill 2244 would expand the locations where a person is authorized to operate a wheeled all-terrain vehicle on state highways to unincorporated areas in rural locations with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Currently this is allowed in cities and towns, but in the unincorporated communities.
- House Bill 2857 would strengthen the state balanced budget requirement and outlook process by requiring last year's tax increase and its spending to be included in the four-year budget outlook.
- House Bill 2860 would update the Washington plane coordinate system so that surveys tie into the appropriate datum but will not change ownership of any property.
- House Bill 2861 would allow for direct sales of milk which would allow citizens with food allergies or sensitivities the chance to choose a product that meets their dietary needs, while still providing for their safety.
- House Bill 2862 would modify the meaning of motorcycle with regard to steering mechanisms. This would allow drivers of vehicles currently deemed to be a motorcycle to operate as a car when equipped like a car.
Farm Internship Pilot Project
I am also sponsoring House Bill 2136, which was introduced last year. The measure would extend the Farm Internship Pilot Project from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2025. It would also remove the limitation that the pilot may operate only in certain counties.
House Bill 2136 passed out of the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on January 24, and I am hopeful it will continue to move through the legislative process.
The Washington State Ledger
My caucus has created a legislative news aggregator called The Washington State Ledger. It's updated each day and a great platform for legislative news, views, videos, audio clips, and other communications. I encourage you to visit the website. I think you will find it informative.
House Page Program
For years, students from across the state have come to Olympia to serve in the House Page Program. I have an opportunity to sponsor pages every legislative session. I always enjoy meeting with them and listening to their experiences, as well as what their plans are once they graduate from high school.
For the week of January 13-17, I sponsored Eric Brown of White Pass High School. This week, I sponsored Hunter Morgan of Rochester High School. You can find their pictures below.
In my video update last week, I discussed $30 car tabs, upholding the will of the voters and the uncertainty of what will happen in the House Finance Committee this legislative session. You can watch it here.
I am here to serve you in the Washington State House of Representatives. Please feel free to email, call, send me a letter or set up a time to meet with me in Olympia. I look forward to hearing from you.