Dear Friends and Neighbors,
House and Senate Democrats have released their respective transportation budgets and I'm pleased there appears to be recognition of the need to preserve and maintain the roads and highways we have. I sponsored legislation (House Bill 1137) to prioritize the preservation and maintenance of our roads and highways, something I've worked on for the past few years. My bill passed the Senate unanimously last week after passing the House in March.
The Senate transportation budget will have a public hearing on Monday. There is continued speculation as to which fees will be increased and whether or not they will raise the gas tax. We won't know for sure until they negotiate a final proposal but I continue to believe we shouldn't raise the gas tax. We already have one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.
The future price of gas
With both the House and Senate passing Gov. Jay Inslee's “Low Carbon Fuel Standard” (LCFS) bill, House Bill 1091, we will see an increase in the cost of fuel. To comply with the LCFS mandate, low carbon liquid fuels like ethanol, biodiesel, or renewable diesel must be blended in with traditional gasoline. Fuel producers and other regulated entities under the bill that cannot meet these requirements would have to purchase “credits” from businesses that supply low carbon fuels or use credits that have been banked in previous compliance years.
When California tried this scheme, it raised the cost of gas by $0.19 cents per gallon, with an estimated increase of $0.46 cents by 2030. In addition, the maintenance costs on vehicles using LCFS increase as well.
In addition to potential gas tax increase and the passing of the LCFS, we also have to consider the Democrat Cap and Trade plan, Senate Bill 5126. Voters have rejected carbon-pricing schemes in the past (I-732 failed 59%-41% in 2016; I-1631 failed 57%-43% in 2018), yet the majority party and the governor seem intent on ignoring the will of the people.
The cap and trade proposal directs the Department of Ecology to implement a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from certain entities and a program to track, verify, and enforce compliance. Carbon credits would be traded, creating a new, potentially unstable and manipulative market. Keep in mind, Washington state emits less than three-tenths of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If we eliminated every car, truck, train, plane, boat, and flatulating bovine, the impacts to global greenhouse gas emissions would be less than three-tenths of one percent! This cap and trade scheme will do very little, yet cost our citizens and industries a lot.
Taken altogether, these three things (gas tax increase, low carbon fuel standard, and cap and trade) would nearly double the current state and federal gas tax in our state.
Second Amendment update
The high capacity magazine ban, the ban on the nation's most popular sporting rifle (the AR platform), and other onerous bills encroaching upon our Second Amendment rights look to be defeated this year. However, one bill that did pass was the “open carry” ban bill. Senate Bill 5038 bans open carry of a firearm within 250 feet of a permitted rally and at the state Capitol Campus. I voted against this legislation. I believe the state and federal constitutions are very clear on this. Interesting, however, that the sponsors of this legislation have no qualms about rallies attended by “other political groups” where we see bike chains, baseball bats, rakes, batons and other weapons.
With just two weeks left in the regular session, there is still much to be done. Senate and House budget leaders are working on a compromise budget. State tax collections are back to pre-COVID numbers and the federal government is sending the state billions. Yet it still looks like the Democrats will implement an income tax on capital gains and spend every penny coming in. Their budget proposals to date increase state spending much faster than the incomes of the families who have to pay for it! Their proposed spending increases are unsustainable.
Please continue to contact my office with your thoughts and concerns on state government issues. We are here to serve you.