Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This Saturday from 2-3:30 p.m., I will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting with Sen. Sharon Brown and Rep. Brad Klippert. The three of us will provide a brief session update and then take questions from constituents. If you would like to participate, please pre-register here. You can also submit questions in advance on that page. There is much to discuss, including the governor's recent announcement that the entire state will be moving to Phase 3 on March 22, so I hope you'll be able to join us via Zoom on Saturday.
For those of you who can't be in attendance, please know you can always call me at (509) 315-2315 or send me an email with your comments, questions or concerns. I always look forward to hearing from you!
We're in the second half of session
Today is day 66 of this year's 105-day legislative session. Last Tuesday marked a critical deadline that meant the end of the road for a lot of bills – at least for this session. All bills that did not advance out of the chamber (House or Senate) in which they were introduced are now considered dead for the year. The exception to this are bills considered necessary to implement the budget, or NTIB.
I'm happy to report my manufacturing jobs bill survived cutoff, passing 96-0 in the House last week. If signed into law, House Bill 1170 will provide a framework for the state to add 300,000 new manufacturing jobs over the next 10 years. The bill would also seek to double the number of small manufacturing firms and the number of women- and minority-owned manufacturing firms in Washington. With the Department of Commerce leading this effort, I truly believe we would be able to hit our jobs target and meaningfully increase diversity in our manufacturing sector.
House Bill 1170 has been referred to the Senate Business, Financial Services and Trade Committee.
Bills to keep tabs on and a major battle ahead
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 regulate the carbon intensity of transportation fuels (known as a low-carbon fuel standard mandate). Such a policy, which would have almost no environmental benefit, could drive up the price of gas by as much as 57 cents per gallon and diesel by as much as 63 cents per gallon.
- Senate Bill 5096 would create a new income tax on capital gains. As the Tri-City Herald editorial board recently wrote: “This bill is attempting to lay the foundation for a statewide income tax. That is the end-goal.” That is correct, and it's why House Republicans are fighting so hard against this proposal.
- House Bill 1076 would authorize qui tam lawsuits, incentivizing trial attorneys to seek out private citizens to sue on behalf of the government so they could reap a portion of the financial award. Such a system would be ripe for abuse, and there are no safeguards in the bill to prevent frivolous lawsuits against small businesses should it become law.
Aside from these three bills and a handful of others, the biggest battle ahead is going to be over the 2021-23 operating budget. As I mentioned in my last email update, House Republicans have offered our own proposal, which would fund all of our state's needs and priorities without raising taxes or cutting vital services. For their part, the majority party continues to back a tax-and-spend approach.
The bottom line is there is simply no case to be made for tax increases. While families have struggled throughout the pandemic, state tax collections have continued to increase. The latest state revenue forecast, which was unveiled this morning, projects a $3 billion surplus for our state by the middle of this year.
The debate ahead should be about tax relief, not tax increases. Period.
Preventing state agencies from profiting from the sale of your personal data
Last week, I introduced House Bill 1552, which would prohibit all state agencies from selling your personal data to third-party vendors. Under the bill, agencies would be required to certify compliance with the state Office of Privacy and Data Protection on an annual basis. Furthermore, the bill would compel them to be more transparent with you by requiring them to disclose the categories of personal data being collected, the data being shared with third parties, and the purposes for which the data is being shared.
Quite simply, Washington state should not be in the data broker business. House Bill 1552 is designed to protect you and your loved ones from harm and hopefully restore a bit of your trust in state government after the disastrous failures we've seen. It's the right policy for our state, and I hope we can get it to the governor's desk this session.
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 Matt.Boehnke@leg.wa.gov, and my district office number is (509) 315-2315.
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.
Until next time, stay safe and take care.