The governor called the Legislature into a special session on April 24, after we were unable to reach a budget agreement within the 105-day legislative session.
We are in a special session because Republicans and Democrats have different approaches to the operating budget and McCleary fix. The Senate Republicans budget uses existing revenue to pay for essential state services while the House Democrat budget proposal would increase spending by 34 percent over the next four years. That is simply not sustainable. We have also discussed in previous legislative updates the Democrats new and increased tax proposals – $8 billion over four years.
Additional revenue is not needed. Our current revenues are up almost 14 percent from the last biennium. Their proposed taxes have already been introduced in one form or another, such as proposed legislation or initiatives, and there has not been enough support to implement them.
While this is frustrating, we should not compromise just to end the legislative session. The citizens of the 18th Legislative District sent me to Olympia to be a good steward of their taxpayer dollars. If the budget proposals on the table raise taxes, are not sustainable and not fiscally responsible, then we must negotiate as long as it takes to have an operating budget on the table that is sensible. With that said, past special sessions have produced strong, bipartisan operating budgets.
A big piece of the budget puzzle continues to be education funding. That is also being negotiated. We’ve discussed the differences between the two plans before and both sides are working to find middle ground.
NO local income tax
Last week, I introduced legislation that would prevent local governments from implementing a local income tax. Some would question the need for this as our current law reads: “a county, city, or city-county shall not levy a tax on net income.” However, local governments have tried, and/or are currently trying to circumvent the law and find a sympathetic court to rule in their favor allowing a local income tax. Olympia tried last fall, but the vote failed. Seattle and now Port Townsend are considering a local income tax.
That is why I introduced House Bill 2212. It will tighten the language and prevent local governments from taxing individual or household personal income whether it is net, gross, or adjusted gross income, capital gains income or any other type of income. The original bill was sponsored by former Camas lawmaker Sen. Hal Zimmerman.
We have done a number of interviews since the bill was introduced and the press has been favorable.
Governor signs legislation into law
While we are in special session, this does happen to be the time of year the governor signs bills that made it through the legislative process. I am pleased he has signed a few of my bills and companion bills I introduced.
House Bill 1593 will expand on our state’s crowdfunding law and increase access to capital for small businesses. The new law is the result of a collaborative effort to strengthen the state’s crowdfunding rules and regulations.
Senate Bill 5035/House Bill 1242, deemed ‘Right to Try,’ is legislation I have been working on for two years.
Under the new law, patients who are suffering from a serious or immediate life-threatening disease may request a pharmaceutical manufacturer to make an investigational product available to the patient. The patient’s treating physician must recommend treatment with the investigational product after informing the patient of FDA-approved treatment options.
The Senate bill, Sen. Jamie Pedersen’s Senate Bill 5035, ended up getting through the legislative process. It isn’t about which bill gets passed, it is about getting the policy passed that would benefit terminally ill patients. I am pleased “Right to Try” will be an option for terminally ill patients.
Senate Bill 5665/House Bill 1893 relates to how the spirits and wine industry and restaurants do financial transactions. This streamlines the process, benefitting both the distributors and restaurants. Senate Bill 5665, the companion bill to my House Bill 1893, has been signed into law.
The governor signed House Bill 1845. This will simplify insurance transactions and align insurance industry standards with standards for other types of commercial transactions. Sometimes we run into issues when our laws are not keeping up with technology. This streamlines the insurance transaction process by establishing an electronic signature is equivalent to a digital signature.
Rep. Brandon Vick is a Republican legislator representing Washington’s 18th District, which includes Camas and Washougal. He was first elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2012, and is the former chair of the Clark County Republican Party.