Reps. Joe Schmick and Mary Dye: What to watch for as 2020 legislative session begins
We are back in Olympia for this year's 60-day legislative session, which began Jan. 13, and it didn't take long to learn what Gov. Jay Inslee and his Democratic friends who control the Legislature have in mind for 2020.
In his “state of the state” speech on the session's second day, the governor talked about his desire to shift more than $300 million from the state's rainy-day fund to help deal with Washington's homeless problem. We agree that homelessness is a serious issue in many communities throughout the state, and legislators should focus on sound, effective ways to address it. But the governor's plan to divert one-time money to a problem that will need ongoing funding is not sound – because it is not sustainable. We don't like the idea of throwing more of your hard-earned tax money (especially money set aside in preparation for a recession) at homelessness when millions and millions of dollars have been spent with little to show for it. Instead of just shoveling more money toward a problem, we should try to get better value for the money spent.
During his speech, the governor also said he wants lawmakers to approve what are known as low-carbon fuel standards – meaning a change in the formulation of motor fuel that would significantly raise the cost we pay at the pump. We have strongly opposed his LCFS plan, pointing out it would be like a gas tax without any benefit to roads in our state. Many families in Pomeroy and other 9th District communities drive long distances for work, school, medical visits and other reasons. Imposing an LCFS would hurt these families. It also would raise the cost to ship goods and products to and from ports and other locations, and really hurt Washington's economy, especially agriculture.
We were disappointed but not surprised that, on the first day of the session, several Democratic legislators asked the state Supreme Court to reverse almost a century of case law and allow a “graduated” state income tax to be imposed – meaning different tax rates, which goes against the way our state constitution addresses taxation. We can only hope the justices will follow precedent and rule against a graduated income tax. It's also disappointing how our Democratic colleagues fail to respect that Washington voters have rejected a state personal income tax or corporate income-tax proposal 10 straight times since 1934, most recently Initiative 1098 in 2010. Not only do the Democrats keep ignoring the voters' wishes, they have resorted to using the courts to go around the voters. They need to respect the voters, not force more taxes down their throats.
We also are closely monitoring developments with Governor Inslee's “Lower Snake River Dams Engagement Report,” which was released in draft form in December. As many readers know, public workshops on the report were held in Clarkston and the Tri-Cities earlier this month. We know that many people in Pomeroy and other communities in this region oppose any effort to remove the dams. So do we, especially when the state has no say over the future of federal facilities – which the four dams are. We are very unhappy that the governor and the meetings' organizers did not allow public testimony at these workshops. However, we're glad to know many made their presence felt by attending one of these meetings.
If you have questions or comments about these or other issues before the Legislature, please share them with any of us. Here's how you can reach us:
Sen. Mark Schoesler
Website – MarkSchoesler.src.wastateleg.org/
P.O. Box 40409, Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786-7620
Rep. Joe Schmick
P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504 (same mailing address for Rep. Dye.)
Phone: (360) 786-7844
Rep. Mary Dye
Phone: (360) 786-7942
Please call, write or email us anytime. Thank you for the honor of allowing us to serve you!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, represent the 9th Legislative District.