Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
Things are moving quickly here in Olympia. It is hard to believe that we are halfway through the legislative session. We have been working late into the evening voting bills off of the Senate floor. This year the House of Representatives goes first in preparing a budget proposal. We are waiting to see what they propose. In the meantime, we have cause to celebrate as a recent revenue forecast shows an increase of over $200 million. As I have been saying, we already have $3 billion more in revenue coming to the state and the latest revenue projection is another example of why we don’t need to raise taxes.
We are also approaching our next deadline on March 11th at 5 p.m. Please keep this in mind if there are bills that you are supporting. All bills that have not been voted on in their house of origin will be dead for the session, barring rarely used parliamentary procedures.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state Senator.
13th District State Senator
Last week the Senate began voting on key transportation reforms as part of a transportation package. I have been insistent that I cannot support a transportation package without meaningful changes in how our state operates and invests in transportation. A critical reform that we passed concerns sales tax. Currently, the state charges itself sales tax on transportation projects and puts that money into the general fund. We have reversed that practice to ensure that money spent on transportation actually goes to fund roads and bridges. Another key reform is preventing the governors radical climate agenda. He has been very vocal about achieving carbon reduction through a tax called a low-carbon fuel standard. This could raise the price of a gallon of gas between 40 cents and $1, without investing in our transportation needs. The Senate passed a bill that would move money out of things like transit back to roads if he were to go ahead with that plan.
Please click here to see a summary of all the transportation reforms.
Railroad returns to Port of Royal Slope ownership
Senate Bill 5529, which returns ownership of the 26 mile state-owned railroad tracks to Port of Royal Slope cleared the Senate. The legislation gives the port authority five years to contract an operator for the rail line and gives supplies from the recent rehabilitation projects paid for by the state Department of Transportation to the port.
The community has been working to find a sustainable plan to operate the railroad and I’m glad that we can give ownership back. This will be an opportunity to boost economic development and preserve businesses in the area.
The port, overseen by three elected commissioners, passed a resolution in 2013 asking the Legislature to transfer ownership of the rail lines. The line is owned by the state Department of Transportation after being purchased in 1993. Upgrades to the rail lines permit the transport of goods.
Improving our Economy
I am focused on improving our state’s economy. Places like Seattle have weathered the recession better than most, but our job is not done until we see improvements in every corner of our state. I am working hard to make sure that rural communities have the resources and flexibility to create jobs and improve their local economies. An issue that I have been focused on is the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB). Last year I had a bill that would have made needed changes to spur job growth and economic development but due to the governors veto, it did not become law. I have been working this year with numerous stakeholders to improve the legislation and get it signed into law this year. Senate Bill 5442 passed the Senate and will bring needed jobs and investment into rural areas if it passes the House.