House floor debate highlights

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Cap-and-tax scheme | Senate Bill 5126 | April 23, 2021

Senate Bill 5126 would establish a cap-and-invest program for greenhouse gas emissions to be implemented by the Department of Ecology.

House Republicans believe this bill is:

  • Regressive. It will raise the price of gas, food, goods, and heating on working families.
  • Purely partisan and rushed through the House. There was no consideration of a revenue-neutral approach.
  • An ineffective way to reduce CO2 emissions and globally irrelevant.
  • Ignoring the will of the voters. It is similar to I-1631, which failed with 43.44% of the vote in 2018.
  • Creating a new, unaccountable bureaucracy in Olympia.
Income Tax on Capital Gains | Senate Bill 5096 | April 21, 2021

Senate Bill 5096 would create a new state income tax on capital gains (7% beginning on January 1, 2022).

House Republicans believe this bill is:

  • Unnecessary. State tax collections are strong and budget writers have been provided a large influx of federal funding.
  • Unpopular. Washington voters have told us several times that they do not want any form of a new state income tax.
  • Unstable. This type of tax is volatile, especially in economic downturns.
  • Unconstitutional. This new tax will be challenged in court and the state Supreme Court precedent is clear.
  • A major step toward a new state income tax.
Operating budget | Senate Bill 5092 | April 3, 2021

Senate Bill 5092 would make biennial operating budget appropriations for the 2021-23 fiscal biennium.

House Republicans believe this operating budget proposal:

  • Is unsustainable.
  • Violates the spirit of the Budget Stabilization Account (rainy-day fund).
  • Raises taxes unnecessarily, including an unpopular and unconstitutional income tax on capital gains.
Open carry of weapons | Senate Bill 5038 | March 28, 2021

Senate Bill 5038 would prohibit the open carry of firearms at or near permitted demonstrations, on State Capitol Campus grounds, and in other state legislative locations.

House Republicans believe this bill is ambiguous, unconstitutional, and an attack on Second Amendment rights.

Residential tenants | House Bill 1236 | March 7, 2021

House Bill 1236 would specify exclusive causes for eviction, refusal to renew, and termination of tenancy under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and make other changes to rights and remedies.

House Republicans believe this bill would:

  • Further stress the state’s housing market.
  • Take away property rights.
  • Make it harder and more complicated to be a rental housing provider in our state.
Qui tam actions | House Bill 1076 | March 5, 2021

House Bill 1076 would:

  • Allow private citizens via attorneys to sue employers on behalf of the state to enforce labor and employment laws which state agencies are already responsible for enforcing.
  • Allow attorneys to claim a large portion of any recovery – up to 40% — plus attorney fees and costs while, at the same time, not provide attorneys’ fees and costs to employers if they prevail in a lawsuit.
  • Apply to local governments, which would add yet another unfunded mandate on them.

House Republicans believe this bill would:

  • Incentivize attorneys to seek out private citizens to sue the government so they could reap a portion of the financial award.
  • Create a system ripe for abuse, with no safeguards to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
  • Be another thing for employers to worry about as they try to comply with every-changing employment laws, rules, and proclamations from the governor.
  • Result in significant risks and an unfunded mandate for local governments as employers.
Low-carbon fuel standard mandate | House Bill 1091 | February 27, 2021

House Bill 1091 would:

  • Authorize the Department of Ecology to create a clean fuels program by rule to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels per unit (excluding aircraft, vessels, railroad locomotives, and military vehicles).
  • Eliminate the consumer protection provision in the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation plan that said if a low-carbon fuel standard is adopted by rule, money would shift from other transportation accounts into the motor vehicle account (protected by the 18th Amendment to be used for highway purposes only).

House Republicans believe the low-carbon fuel standard mandate:

  • Is regressive and hurts low-income individuals and families.
  • Provides little benefit to the environment and air quality.
  • Is bad for businesses and our economy.
  • Increases the cost of gas and diesel without generating any new revenue for transportation projects.

Police tactics and equipment | House Bill 1054 | February 27, 2021

House Bill 1054 would:

  • Prohibits the use of chokeholds and neck restraints, police dogs to arrest or apprehend, tear gas, certain military equipment, and “no-knock” warrants.
  • Place restrictions on vehicular pursuits and limit the circumstances in which an officer can fire upon a moving vehicle.
  • Require law enforcement officers to wear proper identification on their uniforms.

House Republicans believe:

  • Our state should not defund the police and should not disarm the police.
  • We should not take away the tools police officers rely on to deescalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force.
  • Police officers are already held to a very high standard. We cannot make that standard an impossible one.
  • Our state needs to focus on real solutions that will bridge the gap of the already-fragile relationship between police officers and the communities they serve, not widen it.
  • If we aren’t safe in our communities, then nothing else matters. Police officers keep us safe.
Restoring felon voting rights | House Bill 1078 | February 24, 2021

House Bill 1078 would automatically restore felon voting rights before completed sentences.

House Republicans believe this is wrong and unfair to crime victims.

COVID-19 Relief Package | House Bill 1368 | February 1, 2021

House Bill 1368 would appropriate $2.2 billion in federal stimulus funds for a variety of COVID-related programs. Learn more: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2021/ho2021Supp.asp. House Republicans offered six amendments to the bill, but the majority party only accepted one of them. Our amendments focused on safely reopening schools, assisting students who have fallen behind, providing rental and utility assistance, easing financial burdens on working families, helping child care providers, and supporting small businesses.

House Republicans also introduced a separate COVID-19 relief package, the REAL Recovery for Washington Act – House Bill 1334. Compare the REAL Recovery for Washington Act with House Bill 1368 here.

Comprehensive sexual health education | Senate Bill 5395 | March 4, 2020

Senate Bill 5395 would:

  • Mandate every public school to provide comprehensive sexual health education in all grades by the 2022-23 school year.
  • Mandate every public school to either select a curriculum from OSPI’s list or to select or develop a curriculum with OSPI and in accordance with online review tools developed by OSPI.
  • Allow school districts to grant a parent’s or legal guardian’s written request to have his or her child excused from any planned instruction in comprehensive sexual health education.

House Republicans fought hard for six hours on the House floor arguing that this approach would:

  • Be too much, too soon for students.
  • Ignore the concerns of parents.
  • Take away local control.

Learn more:

House Democrats’ supplemental operating budget proposal | Senate Bill 6168 | February 28, 2020

Senate Bill 6168 would:

  • Make 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations.
  • Offer no tax relief, despite a $2.4 billion budget surplus.
  • Overcommit extraordinary revenue, which sets our state up for a budget shortfall.
  • Increase state spending to around $53.8 billion – a state spending increase of 75% since 2013.

House Democrats rejected two House Republican striking amendments (alternative budget solutions):

  • House Amendment 1684 would have implemented most of the supplemental appropriations proposed by the governor (without tapping the state rainy-day fund), in addition to $30 car tabs, the Working Families Tax Credit, and some sales tax exemptions.
  • House Amendment 1685 would have also implemented most of the supplemental appropriations proposed by the governor, in addition to $600 million per year in property tax relief.

Opposing a B&O tax rate increase on thousands of employers | Senate Bill 6492 | February 6, 2020

Senate Bill 6492 will:

  • Eliminate the service B&O surcharge (0.3%) for certain industries created in House Bill 2158 in 2019.
    • Replace it with a B&O rate increase (0.25%) for all businesses with at least $1 million in gross service revenue per year.
  • Retroactively eliminate the advanced computing business surcharge (0.5% – 1%), $4 million tax liability floor and $7 million tax liability cap created in House Bill 2158.
    • Replace it with a flat, higher-rate surcharge (1.22%) with a $9 million cap.
  • Expand the tax to 4,400 new businesses that provide 465,000 jobs.
  • Affect a total of 14,000 businesses and 886,000 employees.
Fighting against a regressive, costly fuel mandate (low-carbon fuel standard) that could raise the cost of gas by 57 cents and raise the cost of diesel by 63 cents | House Bill 1110 | January 29, 2020

House Bill 1110 would:

  • Authorize the state Department of Ecology to create a clean fuels program, by rule, to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels per unit.
  • Eliminate the consumer protection provision in the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation plan that stated if a low-carbon fuel standard is adopted, by rule, money would shift from other transportation accounts into the motor vehicle account.

According to the Puget Sound Regional Transportation Fuels Analysis Final Report (September 2019), the new program could:

  • Raise the cost of gas by up to 57 cents per gallon by 2030.
  • Raise the cost of diesel by up to 63 cents per gallon by 2030.
  • Result in job losses.
  • Reduce Gross Regional Product.

House Republicans also believe the new program would:

  • Be an expensive and unaccountable state bureaucracy
  • Do very little to benefit our environment and air quality
  • Not generate any new revenue for transportation infrastructure projects
  • Increase the cost of construction and add to the cost of housing — at a time when our state has an affordable housing problem.
Pushing back against an $8 billion (18%) increase in state spending and $2 billion in new taxes increases | House Bill 1109 | April 28, 2019

The Democrats passed the 2019-21 operating budget in the last minutes of the legislative session. The budget spends $52.4 billion from near general fund, plus opportunity pathway accounts, and $99.6 billion in total funds. This represents an $8 billion – or 18% – increase over the current state spending level (2017-19 state spending before supplemental). The budget also relies on $2 billion in new taxes increases, despite the fact there was a budget surplus. On the House floor, we explained why this approach is fiscally irresponsible and sets our state up for major problems in the next economic downturn. We also argued that the budget could have been balanced, and priorities could be adequately funded, without several new tax increases on Washingtonians.

Facts:

Fighting against nearly $1 billion in new tax increases on businesses providing certain services | House Bill 2158 | April 27, 2019

House Bill 2158 will create a B&O surcharge on businesses providing certain services to pay for workforce education. This will negatively impact around 90,000 businesses and result in new costs being passed along to consumers. We made these arguments, and others, on the House floor. Despite bipartisan opposition, the bill passed 52-45.   

Advocating for lower property taxes and a fair and equitable school-funding system | House Bill 2140 | April 27, 2019

House Bill 2140 will:

  • Modify the amount of local levies that can be collected for K-12 enrichment programs, which will increase local property taxes for many taxpayers. 
  • Provide school districts with two different local levy policies, allowing districts to choose between a rate based levy lid or a per pupil levy lid. 
  • Modify local effort assistance (LEA) to provide tax relief to eligible districts.
  • Deposit the entire 2017 state property tax increase in the Education Legacy Trust Account instead of the general fund.

This approach will increase local levies and recreate the inequities that the Legislature worked so hard to fix with the McCleary solution. It will also result in wealthy school districts getting richer, while other school districts fall behind. This is unfair to both taxpayers and school districts, and sets our state up for more legal problems when it comes to funding education. We made these arguments on the House floor, but the measure passed 54-42.

Fighting against $4.5 billion in new tax increases in the House Finance Committee | House Bills 2156, 2157 and 2158 | April 19, 2019

House Bills 2156, 2157 and 2158, collectively, would increase taxes by $4.5 billion over the next four years through:

Democrats advanced these measures out of the House Finance Committee, with every Republican voting “no.” We offered several amendments, but most were rejected. In our arguments, we explained why taxes do not need to be raised on anyone, how our state has a budget surplus, and why new tax increases would hurt families, employers and our economy.

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.