Friends and Neighbors,
As the ranking Minority member on the House Finance Committee, I have been appointed as a member of the Washington State Tax Structure Work Group. This group is examining our state's tax structure, engaging taxpayers in discussions, and will ultimately determine how alternatives might affect our state's economic vitality. You can learn more about its purpose, issue areas, members, staff, timeline, and related legislation here.
This group is hosting virtual Tax Town Halls across our state. The two events for the Southwest Region (Legislative Districts 17, 18, 19, 20, and 49) will be on Wednesday, October 20. You can sign up for the 2:30 p.m. event here and the 6:30 p.m. event here.
All Tax Town Halls last an hour and a half. You can watch a previous event from the Eastern Region at this TVW link. This is your opportunity to be heard on the issue of taxes and engage in the legislative process from the comfort of your own home or business.
I think you know where I stand on this issue of taxes. I recently joined Sen. Lynda Wilson to pen this op-ed which appeared in The News Tribune advocating for property tax relief. The recent revenue forecast showed that state tax collections remain strong, and the Legislature will likely have a large budget surplus when it returns to Olympia in January. I believe state lawmakers can provide meaningful tax relief to Washingtonians without having to make any cuts to important programs and services – and without increasing taxes on others.
Perhaps you agree with me on taxes and tax relief; maybe you don't. Either way, I welcome the discussion and encourage you to participate in the upcoming Tax Town Hall.
On March 23, Zachary Rager jumped from a train trestle on the Willapa Hills Trail into the Chehalis River. Tragically, he suffered cold-water shock and drowned – despite efforts from friends to save him.
On September 29, I joined Rep. Peter Abbarno, law enforcement officials, Zachary's family, and others to host a news conference on the Willapa Hills Trail to bring awareness to the issue of cold-water shock. There, we announced Zack's Law – legislation named in honor of Zachary and which will be introduced later this year.
The legislation would require local governments and state agencies to erect signs addressing drowning hazards when replacing signs or erecting signs near dangerous water hazards. It would also create a mechanism for the public to donate funds to the state for the specific purpose of erecting signs in locations known to attract people to what could be hazardous waterways. As with any bill, it will be introduced, assigned to a House committee, and hopefully receive a public hearing in the 2022 legislative session.
I want to thank Zack's family, especially his mother Kim, for telling their story and bringing awareness to this important issue. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of news cameras and share such an emotional story. Kim did so with purpose and grace. You can learn more in this story from The Chronicle.
This is just one of many issues we are working on and will be seeking to have addressed in the 2022 legislative session.
Town hall meeting
I want to thank those of you who attended the town hall meeting I hosted with Sen. John Braun and Rep. Peter Abbarno on September 20. The event was held outdoors at the Veterans Memorial Museum and the weather cooperated.
If you attended or read news stories on the meeting you know that, at times, emotions ran high. Many people are upset with Gov. Inslee's executive orders and mandates and want to know what their state lawmakers are doing about it. We appreciated the opportunity to explain what we have done, and will continue to do, to push back on the governor's overreaching policies – including emergency powers reform. We were also able to answer other questions and share our views on an array of issues.
I thought the meeting resulted in a productive exchange of ideas. And I believe it is an important part of my job as a state representative. We will continue to provide constituents these opportunities, whether it be in-person, telephone, or Zoom town hall meetings. You are also always welcome to email or call me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 786-7990.