Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We're entering the final stretch of the 2017 legislative session. While we're scheduled to adjourn next Sunday, April 23, there are still many items left on our to-do list. Not only must we come to an agreement on the 2017-19 operating, transportation and capital budgets, but we also need to pass a Real ID bill and have a thorough debate on Sound Transit 3 (ST3) legislation.
The majority of emails I receive continue to be related to ST3, which is understandable. Many people are frustrated at having to pay for a $54 billion project they didn't vote for or want. The fact is most people in the 47th District won't see much, if any, benefit from ST3. See the map below:
Below are just a few of the emails I've received from constituents on ST3:
“I own a four-year-old vehicle worth $10,500, and I'm being taxed as if it is worth over $25,000. It makes no sense to use MSRP and the fixed depreciation schedule the state uses. No two vehicles depreciate at the same rate. I will be punished for buying a reasonably priced used car because it had a high MSRP four years prior. Fair market value is easily determined from multiple sources. Please consider taking action to make this tax more appropriately reflect a vehicle's real value.”
“90-95% of the people paying the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax will never ride on the, already obsolete, Sound Transit system and the Sound Transit System will never significantly reduce congestion. No wonder people hold unelected boards, commissions and government in such low esteem.”
“Based on the RTA tax ($62) I paid in 2016, I expected to pay $62.50 in RTA tax. Imagine my shock when my RTA tax actually increased to $198, an increase of 130%!! I called DOL and was rudely told since I voted for the tax increase I have to contact Sound Transit; hence this email.”
I've received dozens of emails like these, and what I can promise you is that I will support every effort to make sure you aren't burdened with paying for ST3. House Republicans are fighting for you on this issue, and are set to introduce six ST3-related amendments when the House Democrats' transportation budget comes to the floor for a vote:
Amendment 410 would exempt Pierce County from Sound Transit 3 taxes.
Amendment 416 would allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit 3 taxes.
Amendment 420 would require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value when assessing the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET).
Amendment 421 would prohibit Sound Transit from issuing any new bonds without receiving legislative approval first.
Amendment 422 would require Sound Transit to assess vehicles using their Kelley Blue Book value if using the Department of Licensing (DOL) to collect the MVET.
Amendment 423 would prohibit the DOL from collecting the MVET from residents of cities or counties that choose to opt out of the MVET.
Please also feel free to contact the members of the Sound Transit Board and let them know how you feel about ST3. Public pressure makes a difference, so I encourage you to make your voice heard.
My latest legislative video update
Every biennium, the Legislature adopts three major budgets. The operating budget funds the day-to-day operations of state agencies, public schools, colleges and universities. The transportation budget funds public transit and road maintenance, as well as motor vehicle registration and enforcement. The capital budget funds the building, maintenance and/or renovation of public schools, higher education institutions, public parks, state buildings, and more.
In my latest video update, I discuss each of these budgets. Take a look!
An update on the REAL ID Act
In my last update, I told you about how Washington state is currently noncompliant with the federal REAL ID Act. This is a problem because federal agencies will not accept a driver's license or identicard from residents of noncompliant states starting Jan. 22, 2018. That means you may not be able to board a flight next year unless the state becomes compliant before then.
It's concerning the Legislature seems to be heading for a solution that would put a greater financial burden on law-abiding citizens. Washingtonians should not be required to purchase a more expensive Enhanced Driver's License or passport in order to board airplanes. That's why I introduced House Bill 2176, which would place current licenses into two categories – those valid for federal purposes and those that aren't — without imposing any additional costs on Washington residents.
It's important you are not prohibited from going on vacation because of political bickering in Olympia. I will be doing all I can to ensure the provisions of my bill are included in the final bill that comes to the floor, which may happen in the next couple of days.
Meeting with students from Terminal Park Elementary School
A few weeks ago, I visited Terminal Park Elementary School in Auburn and spent an hour speaking with their 4th grade students. I invited them to come to the Capitol any time, and was pleasantly surprised to find out they were going to be in Olympia on Thursday, April 6. It was great to have the opportunity to meet with them in the State Reception Room last week.
As an aside, I always use this opportunity to warn the parent chaperones that my first visit to the Capitol was when my daughter was on her 4th grade field trip, so they should be ready in case the opportunity comes along for one of them to run for the Legislature!
Please continue contacting me with your comments, questions and concerns. My phone number and email address are below. I also welcome you to contact my legislative assistant, Roy Atwood, to set up a time to meet with me.
It is an honor to serve you in the state House.