Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It may seem odd to receive a legislative update with an end-of-session review at the end of August. However, not only do I want to give you a breakdown of some of the positive accomplishments and legislation we were able to get through during the sessions, but I also wanted to let you know with the fall season around the corner I will be sending additional updates in the next couple months regarding a Grant County District Day Rep. Judy Warnick and I are planning and issues I am working on for the upcoming session.
Despite one of the longest sessions in legislative history, many positive things came out of Olympia for our region and the 13th District.
- House Bill 1068, the legislation I had drafted to provide a fix for the TV reception district excise tax issue, passed the Legislature. The new law exempts television owners who subscribe to satellite television service from paying the excise tax imposed by the Kittitas County TV Reception Improvement District.
- Senate Bill 5212 increases the number of members on the Horse Park Authority Board from seven to 11. New supporters can bring a diverse set of ideas on how to improve this already excellent state asset.
- Approved more than $99 million for the Teanaway purchase, and $5 million through the state Department of Commerce to assist the county with the tax loss.
- The capital budget spending plan includes $61 million for a new science building at Central Washington University.
- The Ellensburg Depot received $500,000 in capital funds.
- A full $400,000 was appropriated for the Roslyn City Hall.
- Senate Bill 5882 provides a number of tax exemptions, at no net cost to the state, including one for large planes. This is one of the exemptions important to our area because it allows large private airplanes owned by a nonresident to be exempt from the sales and use tax for any labor or services performed with regard to repairing, cleaning, altering, or improving the aircraft within the state.
- Big Bend Community College received approximately $1.6 million in funds for upgrades and campus repairs.
- Moses Lake Boys and Girls Club received $300,000 in capital funds.
Everett-based Aviation Technical Services, which recently expanded into Moses Lake, does heavy airframe maintenance and modifications, including large plane refurbishments. The company plans to utilize the exemption and expand their business.
- The capital budget included $74.5 million for the next phase of the Odessa Aquifer Project.
- The capital budget included $136.4 million for the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.
Other district-related legislation
- Senate Bill 5882 also includes an extension of the honey beekeeper tax exemption that Rep. Judy Warnick sponsored during the regular session. This is an important for our agriculture industry.
- House Bill 1552 – would address scrap metal theft, a huge problem in our area. It would offer some relief to all the farmers and ranchers in Eastern Washington who have been suffering from metal theft. There is nothing more frustrating than getting up in the morning and seeing that a drug addict has striped your fences, stolen irrigation pipes, and vandalized agricultural equipment.
After watching the operating budgets come out of Olympia for the last decade, I was a little surprised we arrived at a spending plan I could support. However, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus held strong on a number of issues and we were able to stop the more than $1 billion in tax increases originally proposed by House Democrats. And it expires more than $600 million in taxes, including those against businesses. Our caucus fought hard to ensure the proposed tax package was taken off the negotiating table. The operating budget also invested heavily in K-12 education and did not include tuition increases for the first time in nearly three decades.
Like any compromise, there are pieces of the budget I have concerns with – specifically the money taken out of the state Public Works Trust Fund (local governments rely on this account for infrastructure and construction projects) and the lack of workers' compensation reforms to help our small employers and aid in our state's economic recovery and the state's bottom line.
I will keep you posted on the “District Day” Rep. Warnick and I plan on holding. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or concerns about what happened in the Legislature, do not hesitate to contact me. I would also encourage you to get in touch with my office if you need any assistance with a state government issue, or would like to discuss any policy issues of concern.
It has been another tough summer for some in the 13th District – enduring fires, smoke, wind, flooding and road closures, but I hope as fall approaches everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.
It is an honor to serve you.