Laudan Espinoza, Public Information Officer – (360) 786-7504
Warnick, Manweller join in re-commitment to employers and modern manufacturing in Washington
Lawmakers in Washington are determined to learn from California in the state’s treatment of cutting-edge employers. Reps. Judy Warnick and Matt Manweller co-sponsored House Bill 2671 to clarify Washington’s intention to welcome innovative employers in our state, one of which is located in the 13th District they represent. The proposal would change current law defining electric vehicles as those “directly” powered, instead of “exclusively” powered, by a clean alternative fuel. The bill also specifies that “‘Directly powered’ does not include auxiliary sources of power used to regenerate a battery that acts as a direct source of power to a drive train.” This would ensure buyers of this vehicle, partially made in Washington, would qualify for a sales tax exemption.
Automaker BMW was told its latest electric car, the i3, would not qualify as a purely electric vehicle in California even after it had worked with the state to design its low emission vehicle to compete with other automakers. California said the vehicle’s optional “range extender,” which provides a 2.4 gallon gas tank as a backup in case electric power is reduced to less than 5 percent, meant it was not purely electric. This setback meant drivers of the i3 would not qualify for carpool lane access in California or for the state’s $2,500 tax rebate, hurting BMW’s ability to compete effectively in the clean vehicle market.
When Washington lawmakers looked into it, they were told by the Department of Revenue that the i3 vehicles would not be classified for a sales tax exemption in Washington either, because the vehicle would not be “exclusively powered” by electricity if power was used from the optional onboard generator.
“SGL in Moses Lake provides dozens of jobs for people in our area to make carbon fiber for BMW’s lightweight electric cars. We appreciate them and other employers for locating in Central Washington to provide manufacturing jobs. I am supporting this legislation because it ensures the state is fair to employers who have taken a chance in Washington based on certain assumptions,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “We need to support products that are made in Washington, from apples to carbon fiber, and this legislation is one way we ensure this kind of manufacturing continues.”
SGL recently announced its expansion with two new production lines. Every BMW i3 made includes carbon fiber manufactured at the Moses Lake plant.
“I hope this bill is the first step in making Washington the preeminent carbon fiber producer in the world,” said Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “If Washington could become the Silicon Valley of carbon fiber, we would be leaving a high tech legacy to our children for generations to come.”
The legislation has bipartisan support and was referred to the House Finance Committee for consideration. The 2014 session is scheduled to adjourn March 13.
Rep. Warnick’s media: