Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Due to election-year restrictions, I was unable to send you legislative email updates throughout much of 2020. With this year's legislative session under way, I look forward to resuming my regular communication with you. Thank you for the opportunity to continue representing the Mighty 8th in the Legislature. It is truly a privilege to serve you and work on behalf of our communities.
On the first day of session (Jan. 11), legislators convened at the Capitol to pass temporary rules that allow us to meet remotely for the next several months. While a remote session is far from ideal, please know I am making every effort to be as accessible to you as possible. I encourage you to reach out to me any time so we can work together on the issues most important to you and your family. My email address is Matt.Boehnke@leg.wa.gov, and my district office number is (509) 315-2315. I look forward to hearing from you!
Working to rebuild our economy and revitalize our communities
Our top priority as House Republicans this session is safely getting Washingtonians back to work, school, and a more normal life. We had hoped to start working toward this goal months ago, but the governor opted not to call us into a special session. I believe that was a mistake, but now we must look forward and focus on the task at hand.
As the new ranking Republican member of the House Community and Economic Development Committee, my priority is rebuilding our economy and revitalizing our communities. I have cosponsored several bills aimed at doing that.
House Bill 1334, the REAL Recovery for Washington Act, is a $4 billion economic recovery plan that would provide immediate financial support to struggling families and businesses, and accelerate the safe reopening of schools. It would spend $2.1 billion from the state's “rainy-day” fund and other untapped federal sources, along with $1.8 billion in new federal funds approved by Congress last month. You can learn more about the bill here.
House Bill 1321 is an important bill aimed at giving our small business owners a fighting chance. It would immediately move the entire state to Phase 2 of the governor's “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan. Currently, every region in Washington is under Phase 1 restrictions. Fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues are operating at extremely limited capacity, and restaurants are prohibited from offering indoor dining to patrons. Under Phase 2, fitness centers, indoor entertainment venues and restaurants could return to 25% indoor capacity if following the proper protocols to protect Washingtonians and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
House Bill 1095 would exempt businesses from paying state taxes on government COVID-19 aid. The bill, which would be retroactive to last March and apply going forward, could provide relief for as many as 100,000 taxpayers across the state. Joe O'Sullivan with The Seattle Times recently interviewed me for a story he wrote on the bill. You can read his piece here.
In addition to these bills, I have introduced two other bills designed to create jobs and foster economic growth in both the short and long-term.
House Bill 1170, the Washington Building Economic Strength Through Manufacturing (BEST) Act, provides a framework for our state to lead the nation in both manufacturing and research & development jobs by 2030. To achieve this goal, we need to add 300,000 manufacturing jobs over the next nine years. If signed into law, my bill would require the state Department of Commerce to do a number of things, including:
- Convening manufacturing and R&D stakeholders to compile a report to the Legislature detailing the progress made towards, and identifying policy obstacles to, achieving the state manufacturing goal.
- Establishing regional offices staffed with a lead coordinator responsible for establishing a research and manufacturing industrial council, identifying and expanding capacity for local skill centers, and promoting and fostering skilled trade learning programs.
- Coordinating with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to assess any inadequacy or gaps in delivering remote hands-on, skills-based manufacturing workforce training.
- Reporting to the Legislature on the feasibility of forming both a state manufacturing office and a state research and development office to support the attainment of the state manufacturing goal.
House Bill 1170 is scheduled to receive a public hearing in the House Community and Economic Development Committee on Friday, Jan. 29.
House Bill 1190 would lay the groundwork for our state to become a national and global leader in the future of commercial space exploration. The global space sector, currently valued at $350 billion, is expected to carry at least a $1 trillion valuation by 2040. My bill would direct the state Department of Commerce to complete a study of public policies that would: a) foster the development of the new space economy in Washington, and b) look at the geographic distribution of potential employment and training opportunities across the state.
If you have any ideas for legislation, please don't hesitate to send me an email.
Staying connected this session
I encourage you to stay engaged in the legislative process this session 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. Until next time, please stay safe and take care.