Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are a couple weeks into the 2018 legislative session. In this legislative update I want to provide you some of the legislation I am working on. I also want to share with you details about the governor's carbon tax plan.
This fall, Washington state had its third school shooting since 2014. The Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting on Oct. 24, 2014, the North Thurston High School shooting on April 27, 2015, and Freeman High School on Sept. 13 of last year. It is time to get a school safety measure in place that is working. My House Bill 2442 would create the “students protecting students program” by using a mobile app. Students would have a fast, secure, and anonymous method of reporting threatening or harmful activities. We want to do what we can to make our schools safe. The bill had a public hearing in the House Education Committee on Tuesday.
Rep. Manweller testifies on his school safety bill in the House Education Committee.
Addressing and preventing catastrophic wildfires
The Northwest was filled with smoke last year with major wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. While the Jolly Mountain fire was burning in our region, we were fortunate not to experience the wildfires and devastation we had seen in previous years.
In the Legislature, we are continually looking for ways to combat our catastrophic wildfires. I have introduced House Bill 2441, which would expand the authorized use of the $40 homeless housing and assistance surcharge to include wildfire prevention and response activities. The legislation is directed at the less populated counties in eastern Washington.
Rail district funds
I am continually looking at ways to expanding our rail system to increase business and economic development, and providing some relief to traffic congestion. House Bill 2622 would allow citizens to set up localized rail districts that, like port districts, can invest in infrastructure that will increase the likelihood of bringing passenger rail service back to our communities.
Governor's carbon tax proposal
On day two of session Gov. Inslee delivered his State of the State address. He made not one mention of Hirst, maybe the most important issue before us this session. Instead, he spent a good part of speech outlining his carbon tax plan. His proposal would tax carbon emissions generated by transportation fuels and power plants at $20 per metric ton beginning July 2019. The tax would increase by 3.5 percent each year, plus inflation.
It is projected to raise $1.5 billion over the first two years, and $3.3 billion over four years. This proposal doesn't incentivize reducing carbon – it just puts an even heavier tax burden on working families. With that being the case, proposal seems more about revenue than good policy.
His plan will hit the citizens of Washington hard. The governor's own staff indicated we could see a 4-5 percent increase in electricity, 10 percent increase on natural gas, and anywhere from a 6-9 percent increase on fuel, or approximately 18 cents a gallon.
It may not go anywhere, as he would need 100 percent support from legislators in his party to pass it and not all are onboard. However, citizens should be aware of it, as the other side of the aisle continues to look for ways to create or raise taxes.
Vocational education “Legislator of the Year”
Last fall I was honored to receive the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) “Legislator of the Year” award. As an educator I am fully aware not everyone needs a four-year degree to be successful. Providing vocational education opportunities for students gives us a chance to show them there are multiple pathways to obtaining a family-sustaining job or career.
Receiving my 'Legislator of the Year' award from Tim Knue and Jene Jones of the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education.
I introduced legislation last year that would do a number of things related to vocational education. It hasn't gained much traction, but I will continue to advocate for vocational education so students can gain skills needed for high wage, high demand career opportunities.
House Page Program
I had the privilege of sponsoring two Ellensburg High School students as pages the first week of the legislative session, Mark Van Epps and Macenna Perez. They did a fantastic job and I hope they enjoyed their time in Olympia.
House Pages Mark Van Epps and Macenna Perez with Rep. Manweller.
To become a page, applicants must have a legislative sponsor, be between the ages of 14 and 16, and obtain written permission from their parents and school. For more information about the legislative page program, visit: House Page Program.
If you have any questions about the legislative session or bills before the Legislature please do not hesitate to contact my office.
It is an honor to represent the 13th District.