Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are more than two-thirds of the way through the 60-day legislative session. Last week was the house of origin cutoff. We worked very long days and nights sending House bills to the Senate. I will provide a more detailed overview of the good and bad bills moving and those that were stopped as the end of session approaches. In this update I want to touch on transportation and on an important piece of legislation I co-sponsored.
House and Senate majority Democrats have introduced their transportation package. The proposal was negotiated between Democratic transportation leaders in both chambers. I was disappointed the majority did not include Republicans in their negotiations. Transportation is a priority issue for all legislative districts across the state, especially here in Snohomish County.
The transportation proposal is a 16-year package with anticipated revenues of $16.8 billion. In our region there is $210 million for design and engineering of a westbound trestle replacement and $10 million for the widening of SR 522. However, I also have a number of other concerns with their transportation plan.
- It raises fees on things such as car/motorcycle license plates and driver's licenses.
- It is transit heavy and would require vehicle owners and drivers to pay more for non-driver related modes of transportation.
- Under this proposal, only electric vehicles may be purchased, sold, or registered in Washington state after vehicle model year 2030.
- One of the funding sources for this proposal is the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). One of the revenue sources of the CCA is cap-and-trade which will impact the price of gas.
There is no reason to raise fees on motorists at a time when the state is already receiving close to $10 billion in surplus taxation over the next four years. It is immoral, ignores the will of the people, and hurts those in lower-income brackets the worst..
Our Republican transportation package has some great ideas such as shifting the sales tax revenue paid on vehicles from the operating budget to the transportation budget. Our plan raises billions for transportation projects, and does so without raising taxes or fees. I am concerned the majority intends to move forward without any input from Republicans since the two chambers have already reached an agreement. Excluding us from the negotiating table is neglecting input from communities in the regions of Washington state that we represent.
The majority party has their plan on the fast track. The House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on the resources or “tax and fee” portion of their transportation budget on Thursday and is scheduled to vote it out of committee as early as today (Tuesday).
Modifying the standard for use of force by peace officers
On Feb. 12, the House passed House Bill 2037, which would begin to fix some of the unintended consequences of the police reform laws enacted last session. This legislation would provide a definition for our law enforcement officers on the physical use of force. I co-sponsored the legislation with Democrat Rep. Roger Goodman.
While I would like to see something a little stronger, it is a good first step in assisting our law enforcement and protecting our communities again after the majority party's passage of policing bills last year.
The bill passed with strong bipartisan support, 87-11, and is now in the Senate for consideration.
There is still work to be done. It is also critical the Legislature take action on House Bill 1788 to address flawed vehicular pursuit legislation passed last year. HB 1788 would allow police officers to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion that someone in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense, is attempting to escape, or is driving under the influence.
New communication tool and stay in touch
You can now receive the latest news and information from the Legislature directly to your cell phone, via the House Republicans' new text alert system. Just click here or on the image below to sign up.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this email update or issues before us this legislative session. I appreciate your input and feedback on the issues impacting our state and communities.
It is an honor to represent the 39th District!
Robert J. Sutherland
WA State Representative, District 39