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Friends and Neighbors,

Due to state ethics laws, I cannot send out email updates from December 1 through January 9, so this will be my last communication to you in 2021. Once the 2022 legislative session begins on January 10, I will be able to resume these email updates. Thank you for reading them.

Committee assembly days

The Legislature conducted committee assembly days recently. This is when state lawmakers come together for committee hearings, caucus meetings, and other business for a few days. The Senate met during the first part of the week, and the House met in the latter part of the week – with a few joint meetings on Wednesday in between.

I also met with my House Republican colleagues for two days to discuss policy proposals, House committee work, the upcoming legislative session, and other issues. I am proud to be part of a group that is putting forward real solutions for the problems facing our state.

Real solutions

Last legislative session, House Republicans led with an operating budget framework and the REAL Recovery for Washington Act – two comprehensive proposals that helped shape the debate on policies that would pass later. We also proposed legislation to address the controversial state Supreme Court Blake ruling, were part of the transportation and capital budget negotiations, and offered other bills and amendments on various issues.

This 60-day legislative session, you will see House Republicans propose legislation to sustainably fund our state transportation system without raising taxes, provide tax relief, address environmental concerns, and repeal the new long-term care insurance program that is already being challenged in federal court. We will also introduce legislation to fix the problems created last year from police reform bills (House Bill 1054 and House Bill 1310) that went too far. The media has done a great job of writing stories that illustrate how these bills have made communities less safe, and even their sponsors admit fixes are needed.

While House Republicans fight and vote against some legislation, no one can call us the party of “no.” As the minority party, we have offered several real solutions that provide contrast with the majority party.

Budget surplus

On November 19, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council revealed that, as compared to the September forecast, state tax collections (revenue) increased by $898 million for 2021-23 budget cycle and increased by $965 million for 2023-25. Based on updated revenue projections, the Legislature is now expected to enter the 2022 legislative session with a four-year budget surplus of around $10 billion. You read that correctly: $10 billion ($10,000,000,000.00)!

As I said in a statement that day, while this is good news for budget writers, the bad news is many Washingtonians are feeling the pain of inflation, higher gas prices, and other economic pressures. I also emphasized it is time for meaningful tax relief. I believe property tax relief would help individuals, families, and employers across our state. There are different ways to do this, including my House Bill 1358, but I welcome other ideas on how to provide that much needed property tax relief.

Sen. Lynda Wilson and I shared our thoughts on property tax relief in this op-ed in The News Tribune on October 8. I think there is bipartisan support for doing something, but it is ultimately up to the majority party to decide on what comes up for a vote.

Tax Structure Work Group

As ranking member of the House Finance Committee, I was appointed as a member of the Washington State Tax Structure Work Group. This group just spent seven weeks examining our state's tax structure and engaging taxpayers through a series of 14 Tax Town Hall meetings. In my email update from October 15, I invited you to the events for the Southwest Region – including the 20th Legislative District.

I want to thank those of you who participated in these Tax Town Halls. They were very well-attended and the feedback was great. I also encourage everyone to stay engaged with this work group's actions moving forward, including policy development in 2022 and proposed legislation in 2023. I will keep you updated.

Next month

While I cannot send email updates out in December, I am allowed to respond to your emails, calls, and letters. You are welcome to email or call me directly at ed.orcutt@leg.wa.gov or (360) 786-7990. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Ed Orcutt

State Representative Ed Orcutt, 20th Legislative District
RepresentativeEdOrcutt.com
408 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
ed.orcutt@leg.wa.gov
(360) 360-2800 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000