Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are at the halfway point of this year’s 60-day legislative session. If you think there aren’t many bills introduced just because it’s a “short session” this year, think again! So far this year, there have been nearly 2,000 new bills in the Legislature (994 in the Senate and 989 in the House).
Of course, the number of bills introduced has tailed off dramatically since we reached a key deadline last Friday: It was the last day for Senate policy committees to pass bills that began there. The bills that cleared the committee hurdle are still alive, but those measures that were not approved are technically considered dead for the session.
This week we are changing gears and devoting very long hours each day into the night and over the weekend to Senate floor sessions in which we debate and vote on bills that survived the committee cutoff. Feb. 14 is the last day for us to vote on bills originating in the Senate.
Two of my bills passed by committees
I’m pleased that two of my bills survived the Senate committee cutoff last week and proceeded to the Senate Rules Committee, the final hurdle before going to the floor for a full Senate vote.
- SB 6155 would increase awareness of the need for bone-marrow donors by requiring the Department of Licensing to provide each driver’s license or identicard applicant with written materials regarding bone-marrow donations. The bill was inspired by 10-year-old Jada Bascom, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 and received a life-saving marrow transplant. Jada and her grandmother, Jeana Moore, both of Deer Park, testified in favor of the bill (pictured here) before the committee. Rep. Maycumber has a companion bill, HB 2557, that is close to being passed by the full House.
- SB 6157 would allow folks better access to health care by changing an insurance carrier’s initial prior-authorization process so patients can have a consecutive number of treatment visits with specialty-care providers that have been determined to be medically necessary.
Carbon tax proposal still alive
Each year there are “red flag” bills introduced in Olympia that are horrendous. This year, one particular bill that should concern all of us is SB 6203.
It would create a tax on carbon emissions in Washington, more accurately described as an energy tax. The bill proposes a new tax of $10 per metric ton of carbon emissions. It would begin in 2019 and in 2021 would increase $2 per ton each year until it is capped at $30 a ton. The tax will equate to a 30-cent-a-gallon fuel tax increase that starts at 10 cents. Washington already has the second-highest gas tax in the nation. With federal taxes, taxes would soon approach $1 a gallon! And it wouldn’t do a thing for our state’s roads and bridges.
You’d think a proposal to tax carbon would somehow improve Washington’s environment. But this proposal really isn’t about our environment. It’s really just a way to raise more revenue for state government.
This tax will hurt just about anyone who uses energy in our state, whether for power, heat or fuel. It would be especially burdensome on low- and middle-income families and those who live a long distance from where they work. We have made great strides in our state by adopting incentive-based policies that protect our environment. This bill is incredibly regressive and punitive.
This proposal also provides exemptions for 56 industry groups, but there is no exemption for Washington’s small businesses, which employ half of our state’s workforce. If the energy tax become reality, business recruitment to our state will suffer. By raising electricity prices, we would hamper one of Washington’s biggest competitive advantages – low-cost power.
SB 6203 was amended and passed last week by the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee. The bill currently is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. If it reaches the Senate floor, I can assure you I will fight it and do everything I can to bring the bill down.
Marrow registration event at Capitol
Rep. Maycumber and I were among several legislators who helped promote a marrow registration event yesterday at the Capitol. The registration drive, sponsored by the Senate, was led by Be The Match. By day’s end, dozens of individuals signed up as potential donors and educational literature was distributed as well!
7th District telephone town hall a success
The telephone town hall meeting that Reps. Kretz and Maycumber and I held on Jan. 23 was a rousing success! We had more than 500 people call in to listen to the discussion as we provided an update on what’s been happening this session and the bills we’re sponsoring. We also fielded questions from dozens of callers. I appreciate people taking time from their busy schedules to join us on the phone. Using telephone town hall meetings is a great way for us to stay in touch with the district, especially one as large as the 7th! I’m proud to say that our district typically has the best call-in numbers for any telephone town hall in the state!
Phone: (360) 786-7612 | Email: Shelly.Short@leg.wa.gov |
Mail: P.O. Box 40407 Olympia, Washington 98504-0407