House floor debate highlights

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Fighting to preserve union, family-wage jobs in our state | Senate Bill 5579 | April 15, 2019

Senate Bill 5579 will prohibit a facility from unloading or loading crude oil with a vapor pressure greater than 9 pounds per square inch (psi), which targets the cleaner-burning Bakken crude, and prohibit a facility from storing crude oil with a vapor pressure greater than 9 psi. It would only kick in when the volume of oil being transported over the rails increases 10% above 2018 levels. This could result in no crude oil being offloaded by rail in our state, which would negatively impact our refineries, curtail the supply to JBLM, and eliminate union, family-wage jobs in our state. When these workers came to Olympia to share their technical knowledge, safety records and pleas to save their jobs, Democrats moved forward in spite of overwhelming evidence against the policy. We fought for these workers, jobs and communities on the House floor. We also offered thoughtful amendments to improve the legislation, but they were rejected. The measure passed along party lines 53-40.

The so-called Clean Energy Bill | Senate Bill 5116 | April 11, 2019

Senate Bill 5116 will: require utilities to remove coal from their electricity production by December 31, 2025; require all retail sales of electricity be greenhouse gas neutral by January 1, 2030; create statewide policy that supply of retail electricity be 100% clean by January 1, 2045; and create penalties for noncompliance for Coal Elimination or Greenhouse Gas Neutral Standard. The bill passed 56-42, with every House Republican and one House Democrat voting “no.” On the House floor, we explained how this approach will increase energy costs for individuals, families and employers in our state, and how it fails to address proper forest management and wildfires. We offered a striking amendment, but House Democrats rejected it. Learn more about our alternative solution for clean energy here.  

House Democrats’ 2019-21 operating budget proposal | House Bill 1109 | March 29, 2019

House Bill 1109 would: make appropriations for the 2019-21 budget cycle; increase the operating budget by $8.6 billion (19.4%); and rely on $4.2 billion in new tax increases over four years, including a new capital gains income tax. The legislation passed 56-38, with every House Republican voting “no.” We made arguments for responsible state spending, and against new tax increases, on the House floor. In attempt to improve the bill, we also offered 33 amendments – with just 12 being accepted/adopted. You can learn more about some of these successful amendments here.

Regressive low carbon fuel standard bill | House Bill 1110 | March 12, 2019

House Bill 1110 would direct the Department of Ecology to adopt, by rule, standards to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of fuel energy in transportation fuels over time. This would follow California’s model, which has raised gas and diesel prices there and will continue to in the future. We think this new program is regressive, would raise the cost of gas and goods, and not do anything meaningful for the environment.

Anti-Janus bill | House Bill 1575 | March 11, 2019

House Bill 1575 is another response to the U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision. The measure would make it more difficult for public employees to exercise their right to not join a union, and to get out of a union. For example: it would allow employees to opt-in to union via recorded voice, electronic or written authorization, but they can only opt-out of a union via written authorization. We feel this approach is fundamentally unfair to public employees.

Governor’s public option health care bill | House Bill 1523 | March 8, 2019

House Bill 1523 would require the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (exchange) to develop standardized health plans. The measure would expressly limit choice over time in favor of one-size-fits-all plans meeting specific government requirements. We believe this approach would increase health care costs, reduce options and eliminate providers.