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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Legislative report

We are approaching the first cutoff date of the 2015 legislative session. This Friday is the policy committee cutoff date, meaning House bills must be passed out of their respective policy committees or they are likely "dead" for the session. The cutoff for the fiscal committees is next week, Feb. 27. Of course bills necessary to implement the budget "NTIB" are exempt from cutoff dates. For more on cutoff click here 

In this week's update I touch on the Senate's transportation proposal and small business-killing legislation we heard in the House Appropriations Committee, and you can watch my legislative update where I discuss my bill that would change red light camera laws.

Cary Condotta


Senate unveils transportation proposal
Late last week the Senate introduced a bipartisan transportation plan. Overall, it is a $15 billion tax increase including an 11.7 cent fuel tax increase over three years, 2015-17 and increases numerous fees. It does contain some important reforms such as prevailing wage requirements on transportation projects and streamlining environmental permitting. However, I believe the current proposal is too large of a tax hit for what the 12th District gets back. Our district would get back about one-half of one percent of the $15 billion package. I am also concerned about the number of fee increases. At this point, I do not support this proposal

Business-killing bills heard in Appropriations Committee
This week the House Appropriations Committee heard a number of bills that could devastate an already fragile business climate in Washington state. Democrats are moving legislation that would:
A higher minimum wage would not reduce poverty, stimulate the economy or address income inequality.  Remember, our state has the highest minimum wage in the nation, but poverty has still increased and our income inequality has grown compared to many other states with the federal minimum wage.In fact, it will cost government more, and drive small employers out of business. It increases employers' taxes, when they already pay an exorbitant amount of taxes. It hurts low-skilled workers and teen unemployment. If a low-skilled worker or teenager is struggling to find work at $9.47 an hour, they will not find work at $12 an hour. We are hearing stories of some companies moving out of the Puget Sound region because of the increased cost of doing business. Read: "Longtime Seattle manufacturer moving 100 jobs to Nevada."

The family and medical leave insurance will be an additional cost to the state and it would also reduce state employee wages. It is another mandate on employers instead of allowing them to provide the benefits or leave that suits their business the best.

If the mandatory paid sick and safe leave were to pass Washington employers would pay approximately $450 million in additional costs. School districts and local governments would face increase costs. Small businesses would disproportionately be effected as most large businesses provide some type of sick leave.

The bill concerning wage retaliation is not needed. There are already several statutes in place prohibiting employers from taking adverse action against employees. It would just add another layer of bureaucracy employers would have to contend with.

What most people miss is the huge increase in cost of government under the bills I have mentioned. This will increase the state budget by billions forcing the state to raise taxes or add additional taxes such as income, capital gains, carbon, etc. No one wins on these bills.

There is also talk circulating around Olympia that large corporations are quietly supporting some of this legislation, particularly the bills mandating some type of leave. It would increase their business at the expense of the small competitors who would have difficulty paying or covering the leave mandates.

Modifying traffic safety cameras
I did a number of interviews in the last week on my traffic safety camera legislation, including on KIRO and KOMO radio. Watch my video update from last week to get more details on it and a wrap-up of last week. Click here to watch it.

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