Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re one week closer to the end of the 2013 regular legislative session, but at this point it’s tough to tell whether we’re closer to coming to agreement on a budget and associated policy bills. There’s still quite a bit up in the air with next Sunday’s adjournment date looming ever-closer. At right is a magnolia tree that’s located next to the legislative building. It’s nicknamed the “sine die” tree because it tends to bloom each year as we’re adjourning sine die, which is a Latin expression meaning to adjourn without a date set to reconvene.
I remain hopeful we’ll wrap up our work within 105 days – and before the sine die tree drops its blossoms – but it’s more important that we get things done right than done quickly. To me, getting it right means a sustainable budget that makes investments in education without relying on general tax increases. That will continue to be my focus.
This week I’m checking in to provide an update on four of my bills that have made their way through the legislative process and are now waiting for the governor’s signature to pass into law. Before we get to that, I want to share an update on a group that made their way to Olympia this week.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with leadership students from Mr. Plucker’s class at Pioneer Middle School in Walla Walla. They were an excellent group of young men and women; I was glad to be able to connect with them and answer some of their questions about state government. In addition to touring the Capitol, they also had the chance to meet with Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback about any issue facing our state. If you have input on the budget negotiations or a pending policy bill, I want to hear it. Please feel free to contact me anytime via email or by calling me in Olympia at (360) 786-7630.
Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve you in the state Senate.
Sen. Mike Hewitt
Four of my bills approved by Legislature
For a bill to pass into law, it has to be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in identical form. To date, four of my bills have passed both chambers. One was amended by the House and the differences between the two versions will have to be ironed out before it can become law. The other three were not changed by the House, so they’re being delivered to the governor for his signature. Here’s a quick rundown of the four bills:
- Senate Bill 5723 allows the state Gambling Commission to operate up to four enhanced raffles each year to support individuals with developmental disabilities through the Special Olympics
- Senate Bill 5396 creates a license to allow retailers who participate in the responsible vendor program to provide samples of spirits in limited quantities
- Senate Bill 5476 allows existing newspaper delivery jobs to be retained by continuing to classify delivery drivers as independent contractors
- Senate Bill 5774 creates a pilot project at Walla Walla Community College to allow persons aged 19 or 20 and enrolled in a collegiate viniculture program to taste, but not consume, alcohol
Higher taxes = fewer jobs
For the past few weeks, you’ve heard my take on why it’s important that we don’t adopt the large-scale tax increases proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives. As you‘ll recall, they have proposed increasing taxes by $1.3 billion in the next two years on bottled water, beer and just about every business in the state, among other entities (the full list of taxes can be found here). This week the Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank, released a report on the effect the proposed taxes would have and the results were eye-opening.
If the House Democrats’ tax package is enacted, almost 10,000 private-sector jobs in our state will be eliminated.
That’s a staggering statistic and a good reminder of the impact decisions made in Olympia can have on the entire state. If you’d like to read the full report from the WPC, I’d encourage you to do so by clicking here. For my part, I will continue to oppose general tax increases on the people and businesses of Washington.