Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., I will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting with Sen. Chris Gildon and Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen. The three of us will provide a session update and then take questions from 25th District residents. If you would like to participate, please pre-register here. You can also submit questions in advance on that page. Thank you to those of you who have already done so!
If you're unable to join us on Saturday, please know you can always call me at (360) 746-3670 or send me an email with your comments, questions or concerns. I always look forward to hearing from you!
2021-23 House Republican operating budget offers a better approach for our state
Earlier this session, I held a press conference with several of my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to unveil the 2021-23 House Republican operating budget proposal.
While the governor and majority party continue pushing for yet another tax-and-spend operating budget, our proposal would fund all of our state's needs and priorities without raising taxes. It would provide sales tax exemptions for basic necessities, help low-income families defray the costs of remote learning, safely reopen our schools, take bold steps to solve the homelessness crisis, make critical investments in behavioral health, provide B&O tax relief for our small businesses, and more. At the same time, we would reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, fix inefficiencies in government, eliminate programs that aren't working, and replace bad policies with better ones.
It's a budget that proves our commitment to developing real solutions for our state's challenges and providing opportunities for all Washingtonians.
Latest state revenue forecast should end any talk of new and higher taxes
Yesterday, the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its latest revenue forecast. Although the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Washington families, businesses and industries, state tax collections have continued to grow. Tax revenue for the 2021-23 biennium is now projected to be $56.6 billion, an increase of 8.2% over the current biennium. Furthermore, our state is projected to have a $3 billion budget surplus by the middle of this year. With the extraordinary revenue growth we're seeing, there is simply no case to be made for new taxes.
No shortage of harmful policies making their way through the Legislature
There are a number of bills that have been proposed by the majority party this session that would hurt Washington families and small businesses.
- House Bill 1091 would task the state's Department of Ecology with creating a program to reduce the carbon content in transportation fuels. In order for fuel suppliers to be in compliance with this new low-carbon fuel standard mandate (LCFS), they would either need to mix their existing gas and diesel with biofuels or buy credits from suppliers of lower carbon transportation fuels. Neither option would be cheap, and all added costs would be passed down to you and me. I care deeply about taking care of our environment, but the LCFS would do very little to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere. At the same time, it would increase gas and diesel prices, make groceries more expensive, and lead to layoffs in many of our key industries. It simply doesn't pass the cost-benefit analysis test. Even so, House Bill 1091 was approved 52-46 in the House (five Democrats voted with all 41 House Republicans), and is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
- Senate Bill 5096 would impose a capital gains income tax, eliminating one of our state's key competitive advantages and laying the foundation for a statewide income tax. Since its introduction, the bill has gotten even worse thanks to an amendment added by the Senate that would make certain real estate transactions subject to the new tax. Senate Bill 5096, which was approved 25-24 in the Senate, is now in the House Finance Committee.
- House Bill 1076 would authorize qui tam lawsuits, incentivizing trial attorneys to seek out private citizens to sue small businesses on behalf of the government for alleged violations of workplace laws. Not only would such a system be ripe for abuse, but the sponsors of the bill didn't include any safeguards to prevent frivolous lawsuits should House Bill 1076 become law. During the floor debate on the bill, House Republicans offered a number of reasonable amendments, including a “right to cure” amendment that would have provided employers the opportunity to fix a mistake before being sued. Unfortunately, that amendment was rejected, as were the 11 others we proposed. Click below to watch a mashup of our speeches on final passage:
House approves my winery workforce development bill
In a 91-6 vote last week, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill I've sponsored to help grow Washington's wine industry workforce.
Currently, individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from working full-time at Washington state wineries unless enrolled in a post-secondary school program. If still under the age of 21 upon graduating, state law dictates they are not allowed to continue engaging in wine production-related work.
Under House Bill 1289, wineries would be permitted to allow 18- to 20-year-old employees to work in the manufacturing and production side of the business so long as an adult age 21 or older was on duty supervising. The bill would not allow employees under the age of 21 to sell, serve or consume alcohol.
I believe House Bill 1289 offers a common-sense fix to existing law that would generate interest in viticulture programs at Washington State University and other post-secondary institutions, while also opening up career pathways for students across the state. The bill is now in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee.
Contacting me and staying involved in the legislative process
Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Kelly.Chambers@leg.wa.gov, and my district office number is (360) 746-3670.
I also encourage you to stay involved in the legislative process by following House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, visiting The Ledger, and utilizing the resources listed in this document. Finally, please bookmark my legislative website, where you can find my latest press releases, video updates, interviews, and more.
It is an honor to serve you.