Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thank you for all the support you offer from in-district as I work on your behalf in Olympia. God willing this will be the 60-day session it is supposed to be and we aren't kept here for yet another special session to consider the governor's tax proposals. And, thank you to everyone who participated in the telephone town hall meeting Feb. 3 with me, Sen. Brian Dansel and Rep. Shelly Short. It was a great success with a lot of good questions and feedback. It's good to hear what's on your mind and make sure I am on the right track as we debate important issues. If you know of anyone who would be interested in receiving these e-mails, please feel free to forward it along. They can also send an e-mail to me at Joel.Kretz@leg.wa.gov with the subject “Subscribe to e-mail update” and we'll add them to our private distribution list. Below are a few issues discussed on the telephone town hall that could impact your gun rights, pocket book and even your ability to seek relief from a state agency: Dueling gun initiatives – 591 and 594 – received public hearings Folks on the call and through my e-mail have expressed concern with the persistent push in the Legislature to restrict gun rights. This year is no different only the measures come to us as Initiatives to the Legislature and have gathered enough signatures to be placed on the November statewide ballot should the Legislature choose not to act on them.
- Initiative 591 would reaffirm the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms.
- Initiative 594 would put in place a universal background check for the purchase, sale and transfer of guns.
Initiative 591, as it is being considered in the House, would solidify our constitutional right to protect ourselves, families and our property. Our country was founded on the principle that we are individuals taking personal responsibility for our life, liberty and happiness. That, to me, includes ensuring the proper protections for yourself and your family are in place. As presented to us in legislation, I believe Initiative 594 starts our state down a slippery slope that would only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to sell, buy or transfer a gun to someone like your son. It fails to take into account that criminals aren't obeying the laws we have now, so why would we think this new law would make a difference? I am also concerned that the universal background checks mandated in I-594 are more about creating a massive database of gun owners rather than making sure guns aren't getting into the wrong hands. For my part, I'm doing all I can to educate constituents on these initiatives so residents understand the impacts they could have on their rights. “Potential to pollute” letters from the state Department of Ecology (DOE) I am hearing from many folks who have received DOE's letter stating that something at their business or on their land has the “potential to pollute.” However, there is no proof of any pollution, just a possible “potential” and that is putting landowners in a bad spot. It's concerning to me that the agency is focused on rural Washington landowners. But, the reality is any homeowner in the state who fertilizes their lawn or has a couple dogs in the backyard could receive the DOE's letter warning of a “potential to pollute.” I think we need to rein in the DOE and that's why I introduced House Bill 2472, which had a public hearing Feb. 4. The bill would require the DOE to have site- and source-specific scientific evidence of a pollution issue before a letter could be sent to a landowner or business. These kinds of state agency rules and regulations put the burden of proof of innocence on the accused – and just fighting these allegations costs thousands of dollars and a lot of time and energy. I just believe that if the agency really wants to get at the bad actors, my bill is a good way to do that. I am working with the DOE and they have agreed to tone down the letters and we'll see if we can tighten up the language of this regulation to protect landowners and businesses. More talk of tax hikes from the governor, majority House Democrats Without fail, whenever the Legislature comes to town, talk of new and higher taxes surface and become the governor's top priority. He pushed for a multi-billion dollar transportation tax package that cannot get traction for many reasons, one of which is his proposal to enact the failed California policy of Low Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS), the other is the glaring need for some serious reforms within the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). We have the 520 Bridge that is $170 million over budget so far, mostly due to massive design errors in the pontoons and multiple delays due to lawsuits and environmental reviews. Bertha, the Seattle Tunnel Project drill, has been mostly stalled because it hit a large steel pipe installed by none other than…yes, WSDOT. Before we give more money to this agency for road projects, we need to change how it operates and ensure it is accountable to the Legislature. The LCFS alone could add as much as $1.17 per gallon of fuel. Add a pile of new taxes and fees to that and we'll see the costs of goods and services rise substantially, job losses and even more families pushed into poverty. The governor also introduced the old standby “closing tax loopholes” theme by proposing tax increases on janitors, bottled water, fuel and a host of other things. I don't know about you, but when a tax incentive, even a modest one, helps a company retain and hire employees, it is worthwhile. I will keep you up to date on these and other issues. If you have questions, concerns, ideas or need help working with a state agency, please contact my office.