Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a very busy summer! From numerous in-state and out-of-state conferences, meetings with constituents, discussions and planning for the 2024 session in January, and then the many hours working out in the fields on our farm near Pomeroy, this summer has seemed to flash by in an instant.
I especially wish to note the hard work of our local farmers during this hot, dry summer, as they finish harvest, and as wheat farmers are planting their crops. I greatly appreciate their service to keep our families fed.
With kids back in school and the first hint of the crisp fall air arriving, I wanted to take a few minutes to provide a brief legislative update.
Governor's cap-and-trade policies boost Washington's fuel prices to highest in the nation
Last month, a Tacoma newspaper reported that more than a third of Washington drivers canceled summer travel plans over high gas prices. This comes as no surprise, considering that for several weeks this summer, Washington was competing with California as the state with the highest gas prices in the nation. According to AAA, gasoline costs $5.109 per gallon in Washington state, as opposed to the national average of $3.827. That's a shocking difference of $1.282 per gallon.
As many of us who live on bordering counties recognize, Idaho's gasoline prices are nearly a dollar-a-gallon less than Washington. Even Oregon is nearly 34-cents-a-gallon cheaper.
Gov. Jay Inslee is blaming oil companies. He held a news conference on July 20 and blamed “Big Oil” as the reason Washington state has these high prices. But that's not true.
Washington's high gasoline prices are a direct correlation to the implementation of Gov. Inslee's cap-and-trade policy (Climate Commitment Act) that took effect in January.
Following the governor's news conference, I provided this statement:
Under the new cap-and-trade law, industry and utilities (including oil refiners) that exceed their carbon dioxide emissions (a natural component of the atmosphere) must buy allowances from the state Department of Ecology (DOE) at an auction to emit carbon dioxide above the cap. DOE gets to distribute the amount of allowances to be auctioned. The tighter the distribution, the more expensive each allowance becomes. DOE profits more when the allowances are more expensive.
The auction prices of an allowance, which represents one ton of emissions, was forecast to be around $22 in the program's first year, but instead have been above $56. That's nearly three times higher than the public was told. This has brought in revenue to the state that is three times what the fiscal note in the legislation had predicted. Due to carbon dioxide pricing, experts say the impact of the cap-and-trade program is 50 cents a gallon.
Simply put, it's not “Big Oil.” It's big government that is costing all of us more.
When the governor's Climate Commitment Act, Senate Bill 5126, came up for a vote in 2021, Republicans predicted, quite accurately, that it would significantly boost gasoline and energy prices across Washington state. In fact, a recent report also shows cap-and-trade is boosting Puget Sound Energy bills by about $3.71 a month. And now these additional prices are costing the average Washington family about $500 a year.
I am working with other House Republican legislators, including Rep. April Connors, R-Kennewick, to explore plans to provide relief to motorists from these unaffordable prices. We hope to introduce legislation in the 2024 session, which begins in January.
In the meantime, I encourage you to learn more about the real reason gasoline prices in Washington state are so high. We have a new web page that was activated a few days ago: How regressive Democratic policies increased Washington's gas prices.
Also, listen to my radio interviews on this issue:
- KONA Radio – “The Bottom Line with Robb Francis and John McKay” – Tri-Cities: July 20
- KVI Radio – “The Ari Hoffman Show” – Seattle: July 21
- KXL Radio – “The Lars Larson Show” – Portland: July 27
My heart goes out to the many people in the areas of Medical Lake and Elk near Spokane who have lost their homes and property due to devastating wildfires that ripped through the area about a week-and-a-half ago and also claimed two lives.
As a result of these and other fires across our state, Gov. Inslee has proclaimed a statewide emergency, which will open doors for resources to help victims. In the meantime, here are links to other helpful local and state resources.
- The Department of Social and Human Services' Washington Connection offers a way to find and apply for a variety of services and assistance online. By entering basic household information, Washington Connection will let you know what state, federal or local programs or services you or your family may qualify for. As always, you may apply in person at a local CSO (DSHS Office Locator) or by calling the Customer Services Contact Center at 877-501-2233.
- Department of Ecology – Wildfire Smoke Information
- Washington's Air Quality Network – Air Monitoring Program
- Department of Natural Resources – Wildfire Incident Information
- Washington Department of Transportation – Real Time Travel Map
- Washington State Department of Health – Emergencies
- The Washington Emergency Management Division
- Adams County Emergency Management
- Asotin County Emergency Services
- Columbia County Emergency Management
- Franklin County Emergency Management
- Garfield County Emergency Management
- Lincoln County Emergency Plans
- Spokane County Emergency Management
- Emergency Alert and Warning Notifications for Spokane County: Register for ALERT Spokane
- Whitman County Emergency Management
Additionally, my wildfire aviation suppression legislation, House Bill 1498, became effective July 23. It allows the state to reimburse local fire districts for their costs of using helicopters and airplanes to attack and douse a wildland fire when it initially breaks out. Hopefully, this will help to stop fires when they are small so they don't become a deadly wildfire. Learn more about that bill here.
In my last email update, I discussed accompanying some top U.S. and state officials, including U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby and Washington State Conservationist Roylene Comes at Night on tours of the Columbia Basin Project,
At the end of June, I was one of nearly 400 people who attended a Congressional Field Hearing in Richland on the importance of the Snake River Dams. Members on the panel included Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep. Cliff Bentz from Oregon, and Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia.
We heard some eye-opening testimony, including how the Biden Administration wants to lower the waters behind Little Goose Dam and the Lower Granite Dam — actions that would be devastating to barge navigation, especially to agriculture, because it would strand river traffic east of the Lower Monumental Dam. You can be sure we will fight that to protect our region's economy. Read more about this meeting in the Tri-City Herald.
In July, I was among legislators, business leaders, academics and policymakers from the U.S. and Canada for the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Annual Summit in Boise. Just days later, I attended the 2023 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Orlando, Florida, which was kicked off by Gov. Ron DeSantis. This was a great opportunity to learn about legislation in other states, especially on issues, such as environment and energy, that affect Washington state.
In addition, I've been on a Farm Bureau tour, met with stakeholders in Gig Harbor on my legislation to establish a Washington State Commission on Boys and Men, and participated in a Nuclear Energy Caucus tour with Rep. Stephanie Barnard, R-Kennewick.
I'm also looking forward to attending many of our local county fairs. Maybe I will see you there!
State Commission on Boys and Men legislation gaining more support
I am pleased that we are continuing to gain tremendous support from various organizations for House Bill 1270, a measure I introduced earlier this year that would establish a Washington State Commission on Boys and Men. You can read the background of this bill in my news release from Jan. 18.
The Washington State Urology Society recently announced that it would feature information about House Bill 1270 as a part of its Men's Health Conference on Oct. 25 in Seattle.
Although we were unable to move the bill forward during the 2023 session, I believe the increasing outpouring of support will help build enough momentum in the 2024 session to secure a public hearing and, hopefully, advance the bill to a vote in both the House and Senate.
In case you missed it. . . Read our 9th District 2023 session review
Earlier this summer, Sen. Mark Schoesler, Rep. Joe Schmick and I mailed out our 2023 Session Review to citizens across the 9th Legislative District. It looks back at the successes, accomplishments and disappointments of the 2023 session. If you missed it, I invite you to read it here.
I work for you throughout the year
I am here to serve and represent you. If you have a question involving legislation or state government, an idea for a bill, or if you need help navigating with a state agency, please call my office in Olympia. I want to hear from you! You'll find my contact information below.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to represent you and the citizens of the 9th Legislative District!