Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a long couple of weeks voting on the House floor. We passed 376 bills! I was the prime sponsor of six bills (of which five passed), and the co-sponsor of 47 bills. For a list of my bills and those I've worked on so far this session, click here. We are now back to committee work considering the Senate bills that recently passed their chamber, and vice versa.
Town hall weekend THANK YOU!
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those of you who made it to our Edgewood, Bonney Lake and Enumclaw town halls this past weekend! I am most successful as your representative when I have the chance to hear the issues, concerns and questions directly from you. I appreciate you taking the time out of your weekend to join me at these events.
Sound Transit 3
Problems and Solutions
If you are worried, confused or angry with Sound Transit 3 (ST3), please know you are not alone! I continue to hear your concerns about the impact ST3 taxes are having on our district.
In November 2016, voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties passed Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3). The ballot measure failed in Pierce County, but passed in King County with 57.9 percent, and Snohomish County with 51 percent of the vote. The $54 billion ballot measure increased the following taxes: sales tax (increased to 1.4 percent), property tax ($25 per $100,000 home value, including commercial property), and car tab amounts ($110 per $10,000 vehicle value), in these three counties. These taxes will fund projects for light rail, bus and park-and-ride projects over the next three decades. The ballot measure also extended transit taxes that voters approved in 1996 and 2008 (ST1 and ST2).
My colleagues and I submitted a letter to Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp asking him to take immediate action on several 'dead' House Bills (HB 1029, 1958 and 2132) that would provide relief to those districts that are the most impacted with these taxes. Republican Senators O'Ban and Rossi also presented a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson asking if these taxes, and the actions taken by ST3, are constitutional.
Here are some of the problems, and proposed solutions, with ST3:
- Sticker shock! Many of you have received your car tab renewal notices and found drastic increases in the fees. These increases are a result of Sound Transit using an inflated and inaccurate formula to calculate how much your car is actually worth. House Republicans proposed a solution in House Bill 2132. This would tie the value of your car to the Kelley Blue Book value and bring fairness to the formula.
- Sound Transit, or the regional transit authority, is not accountable to voters. House Republicans introduced House Bill 1029 that would change the RTA board from appointed to elected, 19 to 11 members.
- Split parcels. House Republicans introduced House Bill 1958 that would prohibit RTA property taxes on less than a whole parcel of land.
I had the opportunity to join forces with Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, to talk with John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur on KVI radio. We discussed your intense frustrations over the new car tab license fees, and the arrogance of ST3 leaders who are standing firm against changes to the taxing plan. You can listen to this interview by clicking here.
I have also co-sponsored House Bill 2147 concerning taxpayer relief for people subject to a motor vehicle excise tax imposed by a RTA. This bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
As you can see, we are working hard at finding bipartisan solutions to this massive problem. I will keep you posted on the progress of our efforts.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
31st District Telephone Town Hall
Monday, March 27
Join me, and Rep. Drew Stokesbary, from the comfort of your own home for a community town hall conversation. This telephone town hall is similar to a call-in radio program. We will take your questions and provide our perspectives on your concerns and issues on the 2017 legislative session. When: Monday, March 27. Time: 6-7:00 p.m. To participate: Call (253) 258-3247 beginning at 6:00 p.m. You can simply call and listen in, or, if you would like to ask a question, press the star (*) key on your telephone keypad and connect with us to ask your question. This is a great way for direct connection with your 31st District representatives.
Many thanks to our state fire marshal and first responders!
Mutual aid assistance at Orting High School fire
In the early morning hours of March 16, there was a reported school fire in our neighboring district. The fire started in the HVAC system in the boiler room, near the gymnasium at Orting High School. The fire was contained by the sprinkler system and responding fire personnel. I'd like to commend our state fire marshal for ensuring the school was built to code, and that the sprinkler systems would do their job, in the event of a fire. I would also like to give a huge thank you to the mutual aid response, including fire personnel from the 31st District, and the guys on the ground: Orting Valley Fire and Rescue, Graham Fire Department, Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, and East Pierce Fire and Rescue. Everyone's quick response kept the school from burning down – and remaining open for our students – and prevented people from getting hurt. Thank you and great job, everyone!
It's an honor to serve you.