Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session has begun. While this is a short, 60-day session I expect there will be plenty of bills – both good and bad – to interest residents in the 7th Legislative District.
You can always check my home page for news releases, bills I'm sponsoring, or audio and video. You can track bills, find committee agendas and contact information at the legislative home page here. One of the best new ways to stay informed is to bookmark The Ledger, a new site that links everything into one, easy to use place. I highly recommend making it a part of your daily internet browsing.
You can also click here to learn more about our efforts to make living in Washington – living in your HOME – more safe and more affordable, while holding state government more accountable. It's part of our “It's Your Home. Expect More.” theme. My seatmate, Rep. Jacqueline Maycumber and I co-authored an article expanding on this idea. You can read that here.
Continuing efforts are underway to infringe upon your ability to protect yourselves and your loved ones. We see this scheme playing out across the country as states bend under the weight of the anti-gun lobby. Here in Washington, it is no different, despite our state constitution being absolutely clear on the issue.
There are several gun bills being heard in committee this week. If you are concerned about these bills and about the continual eroding of your rights, I encourage you to contact the chair and members of the committee and voice your opinions:
Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax
The VMT has been re-branded to “Road Usage Charge.” While much hand wringing and consternation is being had in Olympia because the citizenry passed I-976 ($30 car tabs), the solution SHOULD NOT be the VMT. We already have a form of payment in place via the gas tax. Folks living in rural areas of this state can spend two or three gallons of gas running to the grocery store, schools, doctor appointments, etc., while at the same time, someone in downtown Seattle or Tacoma can consume the same amount of gas just going a few miles while idling and stuck in traffic. The VMT unfairly targets rural Washington. And, despite what some in Olympia are saying, I am under no illusions that this would “replace” the gas tax at all. I'm assuming it will be “in addition to” the gas tax.
There is a work session on the VMT (or RUC, as it's now called) on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in the House Transportation Committee. Again, if you'd like to express your opinion on this topic, you can contact members of that committee here.
Your opinion matters!
A couple months ago, my seatmate Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber and I sent out an issues survey throughout the 7th Legislative District. We've received over 900 mailed back to us! A huge thank you to all who participated. Your voice truly matters as we represent you in Olympia and make decisions based on our shared values, concerns and priorities. The top four issues, according to you, were:
- Holding the line on tax increases
- Protecting the Second Amendment
- Access to healthcare
Many of you had additional comments that you included on the mail-back panel. While there were several issues you commented upon, with differing ideas, perceptions and tone…I think the overall exercise can be summed up best in this one right here:
USA Beef: bringing honesty to pricing and choice
This session, I'm sponsoring House Bill 2712 to bring truth in labeling back to our state and the beef that's raised locally. Mirroring federal “Country of Origin Labeling” (COOL) proposals, my bill would require a simple designation at the grocery store to distinguish beef raised and processed in the United States.
Currently, processors can buy tons of beef from South America and other nations, ship it here, and then process it here and call it “USA Beef.” This practice is disingenuous to consumers who are wanting to know more about the food they eat. I believe USA beef is the best beef in the world and consumers have a right to know what they're eating. My bill will assure folks are getting what they pay for when they purchase USA beef. It will also help our local ranchers receive a price for their product that's closer to a living wage.
Telephone town hall
We will be having our 7th Legislative District telephone town hall on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. Only households with landlines will receive an invitation phone call, so if you'd like to participate via cell phone or from somewhere other than your home, call (509) 253-8574 within about 30 minutes of the start time or any time during the program. This is another way we can stay connected to you and hear about your priorities and concerns. I hope you can join us.
Thank you for reading my legislative update. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my Olympia office. If you ever have plans to travel over here during session, please call my office and we'll fit you into the schedule.