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Greetings from Olympia,
This past Tuesday was a milestone for the Legislature. It signaled the halfway mark of our short, 60-day session. Bills that were not approved by each legislative chamber’s respective fiscal committees are now dead, and a smaller group of policy bills will now make their way toward a full vote in the Senate. The Senate’s budget committee, Ways and Means, held marathon sessions hearing bills that will have an impact on our state’s budget. I’m a bit concerned by the volume of bills. Recall that this is a supplemental budget year.
We approved the largest budget in state history last year, and the short sessions are supposed to be an opportunity to make minor adjustments, but it seems the new majority in the Senate is set on seeing how much money it can spend. Make no mistake, there are numerous tax bills making their way through the process that will mean working families in our state will be sending more money to Olympia. I am fighting for you, my constituents, by working with my colleagues to make sure we slow down these bad policies. Please click here on the photo to the left to watch my latest video update.
Energy tax on the horizon
One of the tax proposals that is getting a lot of attention is a proposal by Senate Democrats to implement a new energy tax. The bill sailed through committee without a real discussion on the merits of the policy. Though proponents claim they are working to protect the environment, that is not what this proposal does. The largest polluters in our state have been able to secure exemptions from the tax, but are allowed to pass that tax along to consumers. It starts by raising gas prices by 20 cents a gallon, a 30 percent increase in state taxes, and it will do nothing to achieve carbon reduction goals.
We can and should have a discussion about responsible environmental stewardship. We should be looking at how our state incentivizes sustainable technology and reduces our reliance on carbon-intensive fuels. However, that isn’t the discussion going on in Olympia right now. Under the guise of environmentalism, this is a tax on energy that is solely paid for by working families, because they didn’t have influential lobbyists in the room carving out exemptions from the Governor and proponents of this carbon-pricing scheme.
The problem with bill titles
If you’ve been reading some local papers, you might have seen some recent letters to the editor about my votes. I appreciate our local papers providing information to constituents about how I am representing you in Olympia. One of the authors seemed to think that my votes were stifling progress of a “compassionate, democratic, and social justice society.”
The reality is that legislation often is more complex and contains provisions that go far beyond what the titles of the bills say. For example, the Voting Rights Act. Who is against that? Apparently, I am. But what you aren’t hearing is that bill was written by trial lawyers, the very same ones who are suing cities and counties under the guise of minority participation elected office, for financial gain.
The bill was first introduced in California where predominantly minority communities, school districts in particular, have paid tens of millions of dollars to attorneys. How does taking resources from predominantly minority school districts help minority representation? It doesn’t. While the bill title sounds great, the practical implications have been ruinous for communities in California and now some are claiming this is a victory for democracy in our state. The ACLU, which has been championing the Voting Rights Act this year, noted in committee that success under the proposal isn’t about minorities actually participating in the process, rather the number of lawsuits they’ve filed.
There are many other bills like this. I urge you to go a bit deeper than latching on to the talking points of the bill title. Please don’t hesitate to call my office as a resource for questions about your state government.
Your State Senator