Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This session, I continue to serve as the Ranking Republican on the Senate’s Business, Financial Services and Trade Committee. This committee primarily focuses on issues relating to insurance, services issues — including the soundness of state banks and credit unions, the regulation of consumer credit and lending — and the regulation of securities and investments. The committee also considers economic development, international trade, regulation of business and professions and tourism issues.
Here are few excellent bipartisan bills moving through this committee this year:
- Senate Bill 5515 is legislation I sponsored to encourage economic growth by providing a business tax credit for hiring new employees in our hospitality industries in areas where unemployment is 25% higher than the state average. This includes restaurants, hotels, wineries, breweries, distilleries and amusement parks. Our hospitality industry has been hit the hardest during the pandemic and many businesses are just barely staying above water. This bill would create a way for them to hire new employees and get a tax break as they continue to recover.
- Senate Bill 5760 would update and expand our state’s motion picture competitiveness program. It also encourages more filmmakers to our state and incentivizes them to come to rural areas. This is a win-win as it will create more jobs and is great for local economic development! I am excited about the growth that is occurring in Eastern Washington and cannot wait to see where it goes. Our rural communities have so much to offer, including our beautiful scenery!
- Another great bipartisan bill that didn’t come through this committee is Senate Bill 5932. This legislation would reduce the state sales tax by one percent! Senate Republicans have been looking at many ways to cut your taxes and this is tax relief that every single person living in Washington state can benefit from.
The Tax Relief and Reform Act of 2022
Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of our families have struggled to make ends meet. Now with inflation skyrocketing, that problem is only getting worse. Despite these factors, our state continues to take in more revenue than expected. Senate Republicans believe that taxpayers are long overdue for a break. To address this, we have introduced the Tax Relief and Reform Act of 2022 (Senate Bill 5769). This legislation would bring you tax relief in the form of reducing homeowners’ property taxes (without a tax shift) and manufacturers’ business taxes. Additionally, this legislation would repeal the capital gains tax and the long-term care payroll tax. We’re seeing families worry about putting food on their table and gas in their car. This legislation will help return affordability to countless people across our state.
Long-Term Care Payroll Tax update: kicking the can down the road
Repealing the Long-Term Care Payroll Tax has been a priority for me this session. After an effort from Senate Republicans (including myself) to vote on legislation repealing this program was rejected by majority Democrats, the Senate voted to delay the implementation of the Long-Term Care Payroll Tax until 2023. While I am very glad that we aren’t implementing this tax right now, I’m concerned that we’re just delaying the program instead of addressing the concerns that most people have. This is a bad policy and should not be forced on most workers in our state. I am very disappointed that we were unable to repeal this unsustainable program.
In 2019, 62.9% of voters voiced their opposition to the program by voting to repeal this tax in an advisory vote. Below is a map that shows how each legislative district voted on this matter. Voters in 44 of our state’s 49 legislative districts voted to repeal this tax!
Bill of interested: House Bill 1871
I have heard from many of you regarding Representative Klicker’s bill to establish a short-term moratorium on the siting of alternative energy facilities to allow a legislative task force to investigate possible solutions to the current inequity between clean energy producing counties and clean energy consuming counties. This bill is currently in the House of Representatives and has yet to be passed over to the Senate. If it makes its way to this chamber, I would like to hear more from communities and stakeholders regarding the benefits and impacts of these energy facilities. While I am a strong supporter of economic development, I feel that there needs to be more local control rather than a state mandate on these matters and this legislation appears to be a reasonable step in that direction.
Please remember that I am here to serve you. Although we may not be able to meet face to face, I encourage you to reach out to my office and to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns on matters of importance to you. And please, if you don’t already, follow me on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you.