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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen and Rep. Matt Manweller

Hold onto your wallets and purses! House Democrats are talking taxes now that the Washington State Supreme Court has struck down a requirement for a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise taxes. It's now easier for them to increase taxes because the court ruling clears the way for only a simple majority requirement. In the House, that's 50 votes. There are 55 Democrats in the House and 43 Republicans. Due to the new simple majority requirement, Republicans are no longer able to block tax increases. Our only hope is that any tax hike proposal pushed through the House by the Democratic majority could be stopped in the Senate by the bipartisan Majority Coalition Caucus.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to read through this e-mail update and become acquainted with the issues that could very easily affect you, your family, your business, and your pocketbook.

Our economy is too weak to support any kind of tax increases and I will not support them.

I welcome your comments. You'll find my contact information at the bottom of this e-mail update. Please do not hit “reply” to this report, as it will not reach me.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!

 

State Supreme Court throws out two-thirds vote to raise taxes

Over the past 20 years, Washington voters have stated FIVE times they want a higher threshold when it comes to the Legislature deciding whether to increase taxes. As late as November, 64 percent of voters across the state (72 percent in the 39th District) said through passage of Initiative 1185 they wanted to keep a requirement for a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase taxes. Unfortunately, the Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the two-thirds law.

A coalition of Democrat lawmakers and education groups, who became increasingly frustrated they could not by a simple majority “raise revenue” (Olympia buzzword for “increase your taxes”) sued the state over Initiative 1053, which was a two-thirds requirement passed by voters in 2010. They found a sympathetic judge in King County, who ruled against the initiative last spring. The measure was taken to the Washington State Supreme Court, which ruled last week that the two-thirds majority requirement is unconstitutional. It means your taxes could be raised with only a simple majority vote!


A preview of coming attractions

How will the court ruling affect you? I am very concerned we will see a simple majority vote on a bunch of tax issues – and the first wave is a list of transportation tax increases proposed by House Democrats, including House Bill 1954, which would impose:

  • A 10-cent a gallon increase in the state gas tax phased in over 10 years (two-cent increase every two years). We already pay 37.5 cents a gallon in state gas GasStationtaxes. A 10-cent increase would make Washington the highest state gas tax in the nation. Cost to motorists: $2.5 billion;
  • A weight fee increase of 15 percent for large vehicles. Cost to owners: $102 million;
  • A fee of $25 for each bicycle purchased that is valued over $500. Cost to bicyclists: $1 million; and
  • A hazardous substance tax increase of 0.3 percent. Cost to farmers and taxpayers: $897 million.

In addition, the House Transportation Committee approved the following two tax bills (I voted no):

House Bill 1953 – Would allow Community Transit in Snohomish County to seek voter approval of a sales tax increase of up to three-tenths of a penny to pay for Sunday bus service. That would add three cents to a $10 purchase. Originally, this bill had called for imposing a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) of up to 1 percent of the value of a vehicle upon voter approval, which would be $100 per $10,000 value of a vehicle.

House Bill 1959 –  Would allow a transportation benefit district to impose an annual $40 vehicle fee. Would also allow a county with a population of 1 million or more to impose a motor vehicle excise tax of 1.5 percent of the value of a vehicle upon a majority vote of the county council or approval of voters. The measure would require 60 percent of the MVET to be used for public transportation (transit) and 40 percent to be distributed to cities, towns and the county for local roads. This would be a tax of $300 on a car valued at $20,000, and would apply in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.


That hated car-tab tax may be making a return

I am especially disturbed that Democrats are resurrecting the motor vehicle excise tax. This was a much-hated statewide car tab tax that was eliminated by voters who approved Initiative 695 in November 1999 and replaced the tax with a $30 licensing fee. When the state Supreme Court ruled that the initiative had violated the “two-subject” rule and the law was invalidated, CarTabTaxthe Legislature took action to reinstate the $30 car tabs. Before I-695, the state had been charging car owners 2.2 percent of a vehicle's value to get it licensed each year.

Apparently House Democrats are hoping the vitriol of the MVET has subsided, because they're trying to put it back into place – or at least give the state's three largest counties the ability to impose an MVET. From a political standpoint, it relieves legislators from taking any heat over the issue, since they would give the counties the authority to impose the tax.

I am very concerned that this pushes taxpayers down a slippery slope. If Snohomish, King and Pierce counties are given the MVET taxing authority, it won't be long before other counties seek the same. With the additional $40 vehicle fee, plus weight fees added in recent years to vehicles, and then the MVET, we'll likely be back to the old days of paying hundreds of dollars for car tabs and the $30 tabs will be ancient history.

Fix it before funding it!

Before we ask voters for any new tax money, we need to make sure reforms are put into place in the state's transportation system. We have bridges with leaky pontoons, a faulty ferry, and money wasted because the Washington State Department of Transportation built a freeway ramp in the wrong place and had to tear it out. There is plenty of room for reforms. My House Republican colleagues and I will be unveiling a package of reforms later in the week that I will share with you in my next e-newsletter. In the meantime, I invite you to read my article to our local chambers of commerce stating that we need to FIX IT BEFORE WE FUND IT!


This week in Olympia!

I encourage you to become involved in your state Legislature. Below is the schedule for public hearings in the House committees this week. If you'd like to learn more about how to testify in committee, go here. Click on the links below to get information about each bill. This week, I believe every bill listed is significant to the 39th District.

TUESDAY, MARCH 5

Higher Education Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8 a.m.

  • Excusing Absences for Military Service – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5343
  • Capping Presidential Bonuses in Higher Education – Public Hearing on House Bill 1176

Environment Committee – House Hearing Room B – 8 a.m.

  • Gov. Inslee's Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Workgroup Legislation – Public Hearing on House Bill 1915

Government Operations and Elections Committee – House Hearing Room E – 8 a.m.

  • Initiative and Referendum Reform – Public Hearing on Initiative 517

Public Safety Committee – House Hearing Room D – 8:30 a.m.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

Joint meeting of Technology and EcCapitolSideonomic Development Committee and Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee – House Hearing Room B – 8 a.m.
•    Genetically Engineered Foods – Public Hearing on Initiative 522

Labor and Workforce Development – House Hearing Room D – 8 a.m.
•    Labor Market and Economic Report – Work Session

Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs – House Hearing Room E – 8 a.m.
•    Update on Washington's Housing Market – Work Session

Judiciary Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8:30 a.m.
•    Eliminating the Death Penalty – Public Hearing on House Bill 1504

THURSDAY, MARCH 7

Joint meeting of Education Committee and Capital Budget Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8 a.m.
•    Update on Skill Centers – Work Session

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

Finance Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8 a.m.
•    Property Tax Exemptions for Wildlife Habitat Improvements – Public Hearing on Senate Bill 5593

Capital Budget Committee – House Hearing Room B – 8 a.m.
•    Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Natural Resources – Work Session

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

House of Representatives – Chamber – (Public can watch from House Gallery, fourth floor, Legislative Building) – 10 a.m. – TENTATIVE
•    POSSIBLE FLOOR ACTION

SUNDAY, MARCH 10
House of Representatives – Chamber – (Public can watch from House Gallery, fourth floor, Legislative Building) – 10 a.m. – TENTATIVE
•    POSSIBLE FLOOR ACTION

 

Events at the State Capitol

We have many groups that visit the state Capitol during the legislative session and participate in events. Here's a look at public events planned this week.

TUESDAY, MARCH 5
Law and Justice Day
9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sponsored by: Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Legislative Building – Columbia room
Estimated attendance: 75

AIDS Action and Awareness Day Rally
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Sponsored by: Lifelong AIDS Alliance
Legislative Building – North Steps/Rotunda
Estimated attendance: 250
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6
Independent Living Rally
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sponsored by: The Arc of Washington State
Legislative Building – Columbia room, Legislative Building – North Steps
Estimated attendance: 400

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 7
2013 Washington State TRiO Civic Leadership Conference
8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Sponsored by: Washington State TRiO Association
Office Building 2, North steps
Estimated attendance: 275

Purple Presence
Time: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by: SEIU Healthcare 775 NW
Legislative Building – Columbia room
Estimated attendance: 25

SATURDAY, MARCH 9
Firearm Freedom Rally
Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sponsored by: 2nd Enforcers
West Campus – Tivoli Fountain North Lawn, West Campus – Tivoli Fountain South Lawn
Estimated attendance: 1000

Homelessness and Hunger Awareness
Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sponsored by: The Evergreen State College/Wasgpirg
Legislative Building – North Steps
Estimated attendance: 200

SUNDAY, MARCH 10
Demonstration in Support of Gun Control
Time: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sponsored by: Organizing for Action
Legislative Building – Rotunda, West Campus – Tivoli Fountain South Lawn
Estimated attendance: 50

If you'd like to see more events scheduled at the state Capitol, click here for more information. If you plan to visit, call my office in advance so that we can help you when you plan your schedule. The phone number is (360) 786-7967.

 

In your service,

Dan Kristiansen

State Representative Dan Kristiansen, 39th Legislative District
RepresentativeDanKristiansen.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
dan.kristiansen@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000