Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're now in the home stretch – Day 43 of the scheduled 60-day session which ends March 10. Here's a quick look at major activities in the Legislature since my last newsletter. Also, check out the details below of our 9th District virtual town hall tomorrow evening.
9th District virtual town hall, Tuesday, Feb. 22 – 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Be sure to join us tomorrow evening for a 9th District virtual town hall meeting. I will be joined by my seatmates, Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Joe Schmick, as we provide an update of the 2022 legislative session and then take your questions.
The 90-minute event begins at 6:30 p.m. You can register to attend by going here: tinyurl.com/9thDistrictTownHall. After registering, a confirmation email will be sent about joining the webinar.
I look forward to seeing you at our town hall and taking your questions.
We fought all night to protect workers and employers from a bad ergonomic bill
I often hear Republicans are not fighting hard enough in Olympia or that we don't do anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. A great example is what happened last week on a very bad ergonomics bill.
We began floor session at 9 a.m. that Valentine's Day, Monday, Feb. 14. After being on and off the floor all day, the majority party pulled up House Bill 1837 just after 9 p.m.
For some background, let's go back to 2003 when Washington voters passed Initiative 841. This measure repealed sweeping state ergonomics regulations and prohibited the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) from adopting new ergonomics regulations that go beyond federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Since the passage of that law, L&I has created education and training programs, incentivized ergonomic workplaces, and workplace safety has gotten much better.
House Bill 1837 seeks to overturn the voter-approved initiative and set in place new, strict ergonomics regulations for all workers and employers across the state. This is a bill to help the government, not the people. No facts were presented to prove workers are not safe.
House Republicans introduced 18 amendments so that we had every opportunity to argue against every aspect and detail of the bill. The debate continued into the early morning hours, only stopping when computers shut down for overnight updates. As soon as those updates were completed, we resumed the fight against this bill until it passed with a close vote of 50-48. We had a cogent, smart, thoughtful debate throughout the entire nine hours. We were focused, disciplined, and it was a filibuster done with class. One Republican amendment passed out of the 18 that were offered.
One of the questions I faced was why would the Legislature run such a heavy regulatory bill right after Main Street businesses, food processors, and industries have been trying to recover from the hard hand of government with COVID? I share those concerns and it's why we fought so hard. This bill is absolutely tone deaf to what is going on in the state right now.
Although the bill passed, there is one consolation. The lengthy nine-hour debate just before a mandatory cutoff allowed other bad bills to die.
This debate is just one of many examples of how hard we are fighting to protect your freedoms, your pocketbook and your right to work and make a living in Washington state.
State Building Code Council holds hearings on proposal to prohibit use of natural gas in new buildings
Last year in the House Environment and Energy Committee, my Republican committee members and I stopped Gov. Inslee's effort, House Bill 1084, to prohibit the use of natural gas in new homes and buildings. Unfortunately, those efforts didn't stop him entirely. Instead, he turned to his agency, the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC), to do an end run around the Legislature.
At the governor's direction, the SBCC is now considering two proposals that would require heat pumps for space and water heating in new commercial buildings. The new code would forbid the use of fossil fuels for heating and hot water in new structures. In addition, the governor is proposing any building construction started in 2034 or beyond must only use electric equipment for appliances and heating. Natural gas appliances would be prohibited.
This attack against our state's natural gas industry is very concerning. More than 1.3 million households rely on natural gas for warmth, cooking and comfort. Thousands of jobs are also at risk with a natural gas ban.
The SBCC is holding virtual public hearings on Feb. 25 and March 11 before adopting these proposals. I highly encourage you to speak out at these hearings. Sign up here to attend and/or submit written comments.
The governor also introduced two bills against natural gas this session.
House Bill 1767 would permit municipal electric utilities and public utility districts to adopt an electrification plan to swap out natural gas water and space heating equipment in residential and commercial buildings. This bill passed a House committee, but we stopped it from coming to the floor for a vote.
Unfortunately, we were unable to stop the governor's House Bill 1770, which passed the House and is now in the Senate. This bill would change the state's building code to restrict energy choice and eliminate natural gas and gas fireplaces in new buildings. It also requires new buildings to be wired for solar equipment. These policies would drive up the costs of homes at a time when our state is facing a housing crisis.
You can provide your input on House Bill 1770 by going here.
- Watch my Legislative Update video on our fight against the governor's natural gas ban efforts
- Listen to my radio interview on KTTH with Victoria Taft
- Listen to Capitol Report on the impacts of Gov. Inslee's climate agenda
- Listen to the radio report on House Bill 1770
Judge vacancy bill gains House approval; Under Senate consideration
There are more than 112 single judge courts in Washington state. Currently, when a vacancy arises, it could take weeks to months to fill that position. Justice delayed is justice denied. The courts take this very seriously!
To fill the silence in the law, I worked with the office of the administration of the courts and judges with experience to draft House Bill 1825. This bill ensures that gap is filled so cases can be heard in a timely manner and to reduce the possibility of a backlog on the court's docket.
I'm pleased to report the bill passed the state House of Representatives, 95-1. A hearing was held last Thursday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. The committee is scheduled to vote on the bill this Thursday, Feb. 24.
Read more about my bill here.
Record revenue and budget surplus: Republicans seek tax relief
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council recently projected an additional $2.8 billion in tax revenue will be collected by the state over the next four years. In total, the state has a record surplus approaching $14 billion.
It hardly seems fair that many of you are struggling to make ends meet while the state is swimming in cash it is collecting from you. I support efforts to give some of that money back.
Republicans have several proposals to reduce taxes, including expanding the Working Families Tax Credit, reducing state property tax levies, and lowering the manufacturing business and occupation tax rate.
It is troubling that when majority Democrats released their supplemental operating budget proposal earlier today, they expressed no interest in tax relief. In fact, reporters asked them twice, “Why no meaningful tax relief?” Their answer was just “No, it's not sustainable.” Giving taxpayer money back to the taxpayers isn't sustainable, but spending all their tax dollars is? It doesn't make sense. I will continue fighting to provide tax relief to our struggling families, businesses and employers in our state.
For a list of tax increases the majority party has passed since 2019, click here.
Sign up for legislative text alerts
You can now get the latest news and information from the Legislature directly to your cell phone. We have a new text alert system that was activated just days ago. Click here to sign up.
Contact my office
Please contact my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and/or state government. My contact information is below. Go to my website, RepresentativeMaryDye.com to get the latest local legislative news and information.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving you and your neighbors across the 9th Legislative District.