Although it feels like it just started, we now have less than two weeks left in this short 60-day session. We still have a lot of work to do in both legislative chambers, and these final two weeks will be extremely busy with many hours of floor action on the schedule.
This week was budget week at the Capitol, but there were plenty of other things going on, as well. So, let's get to the updates.
Proposed Supplemental Budgets
Both the House and Senate Democrats released their proposed 2020 supplemental budgets this week, which includes the operating, transportation, and capital budgets. There were some positive proposals, but as you might have guessed, there were also certain things that caused me and my fellow House Republicans some big concerns.
Operating Budget – Our state economy is thriving. According to the most recent state revenue forecast, our state will have a $2.4 billion budget surplus this year. That means our government has a lot more money to work with. In fact, that's more than enough funding to completely cover the governor's budget proposal and all of the state's programs and agencies. We would still have more than $1 billion leftover.
That's why I joined with every House Republican and signed onto a bill that would provide $1 billion in tax relief to working Washington families. House Bill 2946 would also implement voter-mandated $30 car tabs without disrupting any road construction projects. It would also eliminate the sales tax on prepared food items sold at grocery stores and on personal necessities like feminine hygiene products and diapers.
Additionally, House Republicans are also working on a number of other bills that would provide relief to Washingtonians, by reducing the state property tax, providing a back-to-school sales tax holiday, and reaffirming the prohibition of the imposition of a local income tax.
However, the majority party's proposed budget calls for spending nearly the entire $2.4 billion surplus on state agencies and programs, most of which don't need additional funding. If this happens, and revenue drops even slightly, the Democrats will likely call for more new taxes next year to make up for any losses. House Republicans will propose numerous amendments to the budget before it reaches the House floor. It's scheduled for debate on Friday, Feb. 28.
Transportation Budget – This was the most difficult budget proposal to amend this year, thanks to a $453 million loss from I-976. However, committee members from both sides of the aisle worked together to come up with a budget that works, that both sides are pleased with. The proposed budget continues to successfully fund transportation programs for those with special needs, doesn't reduce funding for snow and ice removal, and makes it possible to restart all of the road construction projects the governor paused when I-976 passed.
Capital Budget – Unlike the operating and transportation budgets, the capital budget didn't have any major revisions, this year. The committee produced a balanced, bipartisan proposal that would provide important funding to several areas, including mental health support for children and young people, helping the developmentally disabled and giving assistance to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Update on My Sponsored Bills
As you know, I've been working hard on several pieces of legislation that are very important to me and our state.
House Bill 2889 would require municipal utilities that charge a tax for operating a water, sewer or wastewater, or stormwater utility, to disclose the tax rate on the billing statements it provides to customers. The bill passed out of the House on a vote of 97-1, and then unanimously passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee on Thursday. It now awaits to be heard by the full Senate.
House Bill 2783 also passed out of the House 95-2 and was unanimously passed by the Senate Local Government Committee, as well. The next step is to be considered in the Senate. The bill would be a positive step forward for the mobile fueling industry in Washington. On-demand mobile fuel trucks provide a valuable service for anyone who doesn't have time to stop at a gas station, or for someone who gets stranded with an empty tank. This service already exists but it's new to Washington. The purpose of the bill is to require the State Building Code Council (SBCC) to develop a permitting process for mobile on-demand gasoline providers.
House Bill 1159, unfortunately, did not pass out of the House. This was a major disappointment, as a small group of legislators from the majority side kept this bill from being considered in front of the full House, despite having strong support from both sides of the aisle. This bill, which adds concealment to the definition of theft, should be law, and I will continue fighting for this piece of legislation, next year.
Budget Request for Helmets
I have some great news regarding another very important issue I've been working on. You'll recall in my last email update I told you about a budget request for funding for helmets for skateboarders and bike riders.
I asked the Appropriations Committee for $20,000 in each of the next two years for the sole purpose of allowing the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to work with local law enforcement agencies and the Washington Fire Chiefs Association to provide helmets to people who have been contacted by local law enforcement or an official of a local fire department for not wearing a helmet while riding a skateboard or bicycle.
I'm happy to report that this request was added to the House's proposed supplemental budget, this week, which means it's one step closer to becoming a reality. Unless it's removed by either chamber when the Senate and House meet to reconcile their budgets, this program will become official.
My goal is to reduce traumatic brain injuries throughout the state. Click on the image below to see what motivated me to get involved in this effort.
Town Hall Tonight
Lastly, I want to invite you to join me and my fellow representative from the 35th District, Rep. Drew MacEwen at our town hall meeting tonight, in Shelton. If you're unable to attend the meeting, you can still see how it goes, at a later date, by visiting iFiberOne News Radio, which will be on hand to video the entire meeting, and will post it on their website tomorrow.
Town Hall Details
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Venue: Oakland Bay Junior High School
Address: 3301 N. Shelton Springs Rd, Shelton, WA 98584
Stay Up to Date with Me in Olympia
Here are some great resources to stay in touch with everything going on in the Capitol, as well as with what I'm working on.
- RepresentativeDanGriffey.com – you can keep up with me and my legislative priorities and check in regularly for my email updates, news releases, and bills I've sponsored.
- www.leg.wa.gov – you can also track legislation, get bill reports, view committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
- The Washington State Ledger – this daily informative and comprehensive news aggregator is the House Republican Caucus's latest tool to keep you in tune with everything going on in Olympia and throughout the entire state.
- Capitol Buzz – this daily electronic clip service offers headlines and stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
- TVW.org – tune into TVW, Washington's own version of C-SPAN. You can catch floor and committee action live.
Keep in Touch
Even though this session is almost over, it's still not too late to make your voice heard. If you'd like to meet with me in Olympia, please make an appointment with my legislative assistant, Amber Oliver at (360) 786-7966 or email me at Dan.Griffey@leg.wa.gov.
It's an honor to serve you!