This was an action-packed week in Olympia, but I want to touch on a couple things specifically. I will try to get another newsletter out sometime later today or early Monday to give you some info about bills and what to look for next week. (I have switched to embedding the links to other sites instead of pasting the full version within my letters. Just click on the underlined words to take you to the underlying webpage for more information).

On Wednesday of this week, there were two bills that were debated – one on the floor of the Senate and one in the House. The House Bill was HB 1110, a bill forcing our state to accept Low Carbon Fuel Standards which will drastically increase the price of gas – all without providing improvements to roads which an actual gas tax would do. The bill report is here, and you can see all the amendments that the Republican House members tried to add to reduce the damage this would do to the people of this state. Bill report for LCFS The debate over this bill lasted for hours. This bill is now in the Senate in the Environment, Energy, and Technology Committee. No reading has been scheduled yet.

The other bill that was debated for almost 4 hours on Wednesday was in the Senate. SB 6492 (bill report here) will increase the B&O taxes on service industries – doctors, dentists, therapists, veterinarians, businesses that service nursing homes, forestry services, waste management – you get the idea. This is a very complex bill, and few will take the time to research it, but it will both raise prices for all these services and put a lot of them out of business. I lost my doctor last fall when one of our local clinics had to close. Of course, our rural communities will suffer the most. SB 6492  passed the Senate on Thursday after the 4-hour debate that took place on Wednesday and has already been scheduled for a hearing and executive session this week. My bet is that they will pass it Wednesday on the floor of the House. They will levy this huge increase and raise prices for all these services to provide more free college. If you want to hear the debate, you can do so here – TVW Archives for the B&O Tax Debate. If you would rather watch the much shorter debate at the actual passage of this bill on Thursday, you can see the pretty clear difference between the two sides here – TVW passage of SB 6492.

Another aspect of the passage of this B&O tax increase that I want to point out is how manipulative the media is. Here are two articles about the passage of this bill –

And here –

You would really have to hunt to find the second article, because it focuses on the fact that this is a huge tax increase. The first one is easily found because it focuses on a fix to fund college. It is true that the B&O tax money is going to be used to fund the new college grant which provides tax dollars to college students – some from families whose income is over $90,000 a year. But this is a huge tax increase on services businesses, and that will translate into higher prices for everyone. The media, however, seems to always leave out the conservative arguments for or against a bill and will use specific words to manipulate your opinion about the subject. How many times do you see a headline on Facebook and become outraged or thrilled because of the short statement? You are being manipulated. Be aware, read the entire article, and never believe you have the whole story. Because you don’t have the full story. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t skim headlines or read articles to become informed. We all need to do that – there is no other way to know what is going on. Just be aware that no matter what source you are reading, there will be bias, and they do want you to be swayed to their point of view. Every newsletter I send you provides information from my personal point of view. It may align with yours, but it’s still biased to a conservative viewpoint.

The other action I want to highlight is the bill that abolishes the death penalty – SB 5339. It was heard and passed on the floor of the Senate on Friday. There is passion on both sides of this issue, and this wasn’t a party-line vote, but regardless of how you feel about the issue, what happened Friday was underhanded maneuvering. The Majority brought the bill to the floor without any warning. Nobody knew it was coming, so there was no chance for the public or press to be able to attend or even turn on TVW to watch – no way to prepare. The public and the minority party were completely left out of the process. It’s hard to claim to have civil debate over the bills when you don’t tell the other side you are bringing a bill to the floor. It’s happened numerous times. In fact, two of the bills mentioned here never had a public hearing this year, so they probably weren’t even on the radar of those who don’t live, eat, and breathe Olympia. These bills were heard last year, so they were able to bring them straight to the floor without a public hearing. That, too, is not appropriate behavior. This process should be public, especially when dealing with extremely controversial subjects – it is the public that lives with the consequences of these new policies.

If you want to see what bills are ready to be voted on, you might want to check out the Senate Floor Activity Report and the House Floor Activity Report. These are all the bills that have gone through the hearing process and have been pulled out of the Rules Committee. They are all able to be heard on the floor at a given moment. The people who have total control over which bills come to the floor is the Majority – the Democrat leadership. The Republicans have no input whatsoever. You can study a bill by clicking on the bill number, and then after the bill has been passed on the floor, you can see the vote count. One more little tidbit of info for you here – they will usually not bring any bill to the floor unless they know it will pass. Very rarely, they will bring one to the floor that will fail, so they can use the vote count in a political manner, but for the most part, every bill that comes to the floor will pass.