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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a busy week in Olympia with a lot of committee action taking place. It's policy cutoff time – our first major deadline. What this means is any bill that hasn't been approved by its respective policy committee is considered 'dead.' Although no bill is truly 'dead' until the final gavel drops on the last day of session, most bills won't see any further light of day. I'll keep you updated on the good and bad policies that 'live' or 'die' as we move forward.
A common theme around the Legislature is finding the right solution to an issue. It's the nature of our work as state lawmakers. Usually more than one solution is brought to the table to solve the same issue. In this update, I'll bring you up to speed on two separate proposals aimed at protecting the environment and how best to reduce our carbon footprint.
A very special day | Children's Day
There is one very special day each session where the Capitol comes alive with the laughter and smiles of our kids. Our families have the opportunity to come to Olympia and spend the day with us. Our kids have the chance to press the infamous red or green button on the voting machine at our seats on the House floor, and pass the resolution recognizing their very special day.
I cherish this time with my daughters and family. It's a great way for them to see first-hand where their daddy goes for most days, and on those long nights. Having them by my side for this special day is one of the reminders why I take such pride in the work I do to protect them and their futures.
Our responsibility to protect our environment and future generations
There is one major agreement between the two parties: we have a responsibility to protect our environment and future generations. The disagreement lies within the solution. My caucus is committed to economically sustainable environmental solutions that don't place an extra burden on you – the taxpayer – through increased taxes or higher energy costs.
I'd like to provide a comparison for you on two proposals that have been introduced.
Carbon Free Washington Act
Rep. Richard DeBolt, a Republican lawmaker from Chehalis, has proposed a solution that encourages investment in and reducing the costs of transitioning to a clean energy future. Here are the key points of House Bill 1226:
- Utility companies would be allowed to continue meeting current energy requirements using traditional sources. New demands would need to be carbon neutral.
- Provides incentives for businesses making investments in carbon reduction technologies. Sales and tax exemptions would be given for equipment, labor and services that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some examples include forest management, electric vehicle charging stations, and efficiency solutions.
- Offers further incentives, not penalties, for utilities and energy producing partners looking to transition to clean energy. Tax incentives would be offered through the public utility tax for green energy investments.
Low carbon fuel standard
It's important to note that voters throughout the state have repeatedly voted against any form of a carbon tax as an efficient means to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. This says to me that you also know there are other solutions to create a clean energy future without forcing yourselves – the taxpayers – to fork the bill for it through increased taxes and higher energy costs. The majority party has offered several solutions to this issue once again. One provision includes trying to mirror what California and Oregon do with a low carbon fuel standard.
- The proposed low carbon fuel standard will drive up the cost of fuel on the backs of the taxpayers. The estimated increase in fuel prices would be 13.3 cents. Washingtonians already pay 67.8 cents on a gallon of gasoline in federal and state fuel taxes. We are one of the highest gas prices in the country without this standard. Imagine where we will be should it be imposed.
- This proposal breaks the 2015 transportation package “Connecting Washington.”
- The revenue and costs associated with this low carbon fuel standard are not transparent.This is a gas tax that will not fund any new transportation projects. Fuel costs will go up, yet people won't notice a positive difference in their everyday lives.
- This is the majority parties least “cost effective” means to pass a carbon tax.
This policy has passed through the House Transportation Committee and is now awaiting executive action in the House Appropriations Committee.
I'm interested in what you think about both of these proposals. Please contact my office with your questions, concerns and thoughts.
It's an honor to serve you.
430 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7866 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000