Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2021 session began with chain link fences and national guard troops around the state capital. It ended with little fanfare on Sunday as only a handful of us were in Olympia. The “remote session” will go down in history as unique for many reasons. It may also end up being infamous as the session where it was finally decided that we'll all be paying more for less.
The price of fuel set to go up to pay for LCFS and carbon pricing scheme
With both the House and Senate passing Gov. Jay Inslee's “Low Carbon Fuel Standard” (LCFS) bill, House Bill 1091, we will see an increase in the cost of fuel. To comply with the LCFS mandate, low carbon liquid fuels like ethanol, biodiesel, or renewable diesel must be blended in with traditional gasoline. Fuel producers and other regulated entities under the bill that cannot meet these requirements would have to purchase “credits” from businesses that supply low carbon fuels or use credits that have been banked in previous compliance years.
When California tried this scheme, it raised the cost of gas by $0.19 cents per gallon, with an estimated increase of $0.46 cents by 2030. In a very detailed report comparing Washington's LCFS proposal (HB 1091) with California's, it was found that:
“The costs to comply with HB 1091 are anticipated to be higher than those seen in California or Oregon…”
Stillwater Associates, LLC, “Implications of Washington HB 1091: Proposed LCFS Legislation that is Twice as Ambitious as California LCFS,” January 28, 2021.
You can read the full report, and how Washington's LCFS compares to California's and how it would harm our economy here.
We also have to consider the Democrat Cap and Trade plan (or, Cap and Tax), Senate Bill 5126. Voters have rejected carbon-pricing schemes in the past (I-732 failed 59%-41% in 2016; I-1631 failed 57%-43% in 2018), yet the majority party and the governor seem intent on ignoring the will of the people.
The cap and trade proposal directs the Department of Ecology to implement a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from certain entities and a program to track, verify, and enforce compliance. Carbon credits would be traded, creating a new, potentially unstable and manipulative market. Keep in mind, Washington state emits less than three-tenths of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If we eliminated every car, truck, train, plane, and boat, the impacts to global greenhouse gas emissions would be less than three-tenths of one percent! This cap and trade scheme will do very little, yet cost our citizens and industries a lot. As I said on the House floor in my speech against this bill:
“In the 90s, we got rid of the steel industry in Washington. That industry went to China. That did nothing for the environment and we lost thousands and thousands of union, living-wage jobs. We continuously talk about the future. Let's start helping the people whose hands are blistered. Let's invest in them. Let's not gamble on their jobs, their families, their future.”
Finally, even though the Legislature passed a transportation budget that keeps projects online and prioritizes maintenance and preservation of existing roads and highways, there is further talk of a gas-tax increase for a new batch of projects. Together, these three components could increase the price of gas by 65 cents-per-gallon or more:
I know most families in my legislative district drive several miles for work, school, groceries, medical care, and more. These tax increases are regressive and hurt the lower and middle class the most.
In addition, it will be interesting to see if Gov. Inslee calls us back into a special session to pass a gas-tax increase when he refused to call us into a special session all last year to address his emergency powers and the state's response to COVID.
Unsustainable $59 billion budget relies on income tax
House and Senate Democrat budget negotiators released their final budget on Saturday afternoon. We were required to vote on it about 24 hours later, not nearly enough time for legislators, the public, or the media to digest this massive 13.6% increase over the 2019-21 budget. It certainly funds some good things – some needed programs – but this is unsustainable. State spending continues to grow exponentially faster than the incomes of our hard working individuals and families. There will be a breaking point.
Their budget also relies on a new income tax on capital gains. The majority party would have us believe it only “taxes the super rich,” but the governor's own budget proposal at the beginning of session would have applied a 9% tax on $25,000. I continue to believe this tax is:
- Unnecessary – Our state tax collections are strong and budget writers had an influx of federal funding.
- Unpopular – Voters have told us several times over the years that they don't want any type of state income tax.
- Unreliable – We know this type of revenue can be volatile and would discourage investment in our state.
- Unconstitutional – This new tax will be challenged in the courts and could be struck down.
In fact, a lawsuit has already been filed against this income tax:
I'm also very concerned that the majority party put a section into their bill that would prevent you – the voters – from having a chance to vote on this measure. We offered an amendment on the House floor to strip this section out so voters could weigh in. But the Democrats did not accept our amendment. Again, as I said in my floor speech:
“I've learned a couple of things on the floor tonight. Data is bad if you're talking about the government spending the hard-earned money of taxpayers. Data is good if you're talking about how much money you owe the government. Voting is bad if it's about capital gains or income tax. Voting is good if it's about education or levies.”
Community policing efforts
While several bills passed this year under the “Defund the Police” movement that will make our communities and families less safe, I was able to get my bill to help transition us to a community policing model through the process. The governor signed my bill into law nearly two weeks ago. You can read more about my bill (House Bill 1001) here.
Stay engaged with your state government
While the legislative session is over, I serve as your state Representative year round. Many of you stop me in the grocery store, on the softball field, or in the school parking lot to discuss state and legislative issues. Thank you! Your input is important! Please know that you can always contact my office as well. We are here to help.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House. Thank you for reading my email updates and for staying engaged.