Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've now begun our third week of the 2016 legislative session and some major issues have already come to the forefront.
Initiative 1366 – Court rules it unconstitutional; Republicans move forward with two-thirds measure
In November, voters approved I-1366 with a 51.52 percent margin. The measure sought to compel the Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the November 2016 ballot that would require two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes. The initiative also contained a contingency that if a constitutional amendment was not sent to the ballot by April 15, 2015, the state sales tax rate would be cut by 1 percent.
The measure was challenged in court. Last Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and declared I-1366 unconstitutional.
Today, 36 House Republicans introduced House Joint Resolution 4215, which proposes a constitutional amendment that, upon voter approval in November, would enact the supermajority requirement to raise taxes. During debate today on the House floor, Rep. Ed Orcutt, the measure's prime sponsor, sought to have the bill pulled directly from the Finance Committee to be placed on the floor calendar for eventual consideration. House Democrats, however, blocked the motion by a vote of 49- 48.
Following the action, I issued this statement:
“Today's move was for the majority of voters who have told us six times that they want it to be more difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes. It was for the people who feel their clear intent is being ignored by our state court system. Regardless of how the state Supreme Court rules on I-1366, House Republicans believe the Legislature should move forward with legislation that would send a constitutional amendment to voters that would require a supermajority vote for tax increases. We have introduced the measure and will continue to advocate for it.”
Legislative Priorities – Survey Results
In November, I asked readers of my email update to complete a short survey in advance of the 2016 session to determine legislative priorities. Here are the results:
What are your legislative priorities?
- 22.66 percent – Taxes
- 19.21 percent – Jobs and the economy
- 17.24 percent – State spending/operating budget
- 13.79 percent – K-12 education
- 12.81 percent – State government reform
- 8.87 percent – Transportation infrastructure
- 4.43 percent – Health care
- .99 percent – Higher education
Do you favor the concept of a levy swap?
- 44.55 percent – I need more information before I can decide
- 27.23 percent – No
- 26.24 percent – Yes
- 1.98 percent – No opinion
Should the Legislature act in the coming session to allow charter schools to operate in Washington state?
- 53.47 percent – Yes. The Legislature should work to reinstate the ability for charter schools to operate in Washington state with public funding.
- 22.77 percent – No. Let the state Supreme Court decision stand and discontinue charter schools in Washington.
- 16.83 percent – Yes. The Legislature should work to reinstate the ability for charter schools to operate in Washington state, without public funding (privately funded).
- 6.93 percent – I'm not sure and I would need to learn more about it.
This week in Olympia
Here are some select House committee hearings going on this week at the John L. O'Brien Building, across from the state Capitol. Please note that the listing below is strictly for informational purposes and does not mean I am advocating for or against any of the bills below.
For a full agenda of the House committees, go here. To learn how to testify in committee, go here. Click here if you are planning to come to the Washington State Legislature in Olympia. If you'd like to look up a bill, go to the Legislature's Bill Information Page. Finally, you can track bills by creating an account and going to the tracking page here.
TUESDAY, JAN. 26
Commerce and Gaming Committee – House Hearing Room C – 1:30 p.m.
Local government share of excess liquor revenue – Hearing on House Bill 2438
Assisting small businesses licensed to sell liquor – Hearing on House Bill 2831
WEDNESDAY, JAN 27
Judiciary Committee – House Hearing Room A – 8 a.m.
Pro bono legal services for military members, veterans and families – Hearing on House Bill 2496
Requiring information in the felony firearm offense conviction database – Hearing on House Bill 2410
Higher Education Committee – House Hearing Room C – 1:30 p.m.
Academic bill of rights protecting free speech on campuses – Hearing on House Bill 2488
Expanding the College Bound Scholarship to certain non-citizen children – Hearing on House Bill 2801
Transportation Committee – House Hearing Room B – 3:30 p.m.
State Route 405 toll-lane implementation – Work session
Higher Education Committee – House Hearing Room C – 10 a.m.
Making textbooks and course materials more affordable – Hearing on House Bills 2680, 2686, and 2780.
Providing students with costs of course materials during registration – Hearing on House Bill 2796
Please contact my office if you have any questions about these or other issues regarding state government. My contact information is below.
In your service,