Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's already week three of the 2022 legislative session and there is a lot going on. We are busy putting in long hours negotiating, passing good legislation, and working to stop or fix harmful legislation on your behalf. Hopefully, you've been checking out my legislative Facebook page the last few weeks. I've been providing daily posts on bills I'm co-sponsoring this session.
These short posts provide helpful information on many important issues, and visitors to my page are finding them very useful. I will continue to make these posts daily, right up until the policy cutoff date, Feb. 3.
I value your time and input and greatly appreciate your interest in the legislative process and the well-being of our great state. That is why I put such an emphasis on keeping open office hours and holding more town halls than any other elected official. I encourage you to reach out to me in-person, by phone or email, or via Zoom if you have concerns you would like to discuss further (see contact info at the bottom of this update).
Military Legislation I'm Working On
I want to make a special note of the military-related bills I'm co-sponsoring this session. I have the deepest respect for those who serve, or have served, our country in the military forces. They are a credit to our country and the freedoms we stand for. Anything we can do to serve them and their families and show our gratitude for their service and sacrifice is a priority for me and that's what these bills intend to do.
House Bill 1592 – concerning military spouse employment, this bill would help alleviate the career difficulties military spouses face while serving in our state.
House Bill 1625 – specifying that space force reserve members who are officers or employees of the state of Washington or of any county, city, or other political subdivision have access to a period of paid military leave of absence from employment. This bill extends access to paid military leave to public employee members of the United States Space Force.
House Bill 1636 – reducing property taxes for gold star families. This legislation intends to reduce the financial pressure and uncertainty faced by gold star families by providing property tax relief.
House Bill 1642 – this would modify eligibility requirements and the award amount for the Washington National Guard Post-Secondary Education Grant program.
House Bill 1677 – concerning employer tax incentives for the support of veterans and military families. This bill would extend the expiration date for the tax incentive for hiring veterans, increase the value of the incentive, increase the statewide incentive cap, and expand eligibility.
House Bill 1804 – concerning interruptive military service credit for members of the state retirement systems. Expands the definition of veteran for purposes of veterans' benefits in state pension systems, legal assistance, scoring criteria on civil service exams, and other programs.
Please stay connected to my website and email updates for further updates on all these bills.
Tax Structure Work Group Update – No Need to Raise Taxes!
As you might recall, I was one of eight select legislators to be appointed to the statewide bipartisan Tax Structure Work Group that was busy throughout the interim. I was chosen because of my professional background, experience, and success at crafting balanced budgets.
The Tax Structure Work Group was created in 2017 “to identify options to make the Washington state tax code more equitable, adequate, stable and transparent.” In May, the group released six tax “scenarios,” including a plan to implement a personal income tax. These tax proposals were shared and discussed throughout the state during the interim at multiple town halls.
We accomplished a lot last year and you can now see the results of our efforts. Click here to view the full report.
Based on the state's current economic status, there is simply no good reason to raise taxes. Despite the economic impact of the pandemic, our state's tax revenue forecast is incredibly strong. We currently have a budget surplus of $8.8 billion, plus $2.2 billion in reserves, and another $1.2 billion in unspent federal stimulus. It's time to stop raising taxes. There is no reason state government can't give individuals and families some much needed tax relief.
Long-Term Care Tax Delay
Despite statewide opposition and the fact that the long-term care insurance program passed by the majority party in 2019 is a terrible program destined to fail, they still refused to repeal it. Instead, while admitting this last week that it will NOT work, they merely voted to delay its implementation for 18 months with House Bill 1732.
While this is better than implementing it now, the truth is they need to listen to voters and repeal the bill and support greater job growth. Not only is the program extremely unpopular, it's insolvent and many of the people it promised to help will ultimately receive no benefit.
Republicans, on the other hand, presented two bills that would have repealed the program, but ultimately, they were never considered by the majority.
House Bill 1913: Repealing and replacing the long-term care trust and payroll tax – This legislation would have repealed the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Act and associated payroll tax and replace it with a privately managed program that leverages the state's existing revenue to make long-term care coverage both affordable and optional.
House Bill 1594: Repealing the long-term care trust act and payroll tax – This bill would have repealed the payroll tax and insolvent benefit from the LTSS Trust Act, reset the job market for employers, and set the stage to allow the private sector to accommodate this need. Learn more about the program and payroll tax here.
In the coming months, let's hope we can work together on both sides of the aisle to fix this program and make it fair and equitable to all.
Sign up for Text Alerts
I want to let you know that the House Republican Caucus has a new way to stay connected with everything that's happening in the Legislature. Our new text alerts web page/system is now live. People can sign up by clicking here.
Please Stay in Touch
Thank you again for trusting me with this responsibility. It is truly my honor to represent the great people of the 26th legislative district. Please continue reaching out to me via the contact information below. I'm here to listen and be your voice in the legislative process, whether in Olympia or remotely.
Veritas Sine Timore,