Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this email finds you and your families well! Summer has transitioned into fall, just as the interim is transitioning into the 2022 legislative session.
This interim has been extremely busy. It's been an honor and privilege to participate in community events held throughout the district. After the last year or so under the shadow of the COVID-19 shutdowns, it's been great to see so many of you in person, enjoying the many ceremonies, fairs, and outdoor activities across our district and state.
During the 2019 legislative session, through the hard work of my seatmate Rep. Drew Stokesbary and former Rep. Morgan Irwin, grant money from the capital budget was allocated for the Mt. Peak Fire Lookout project to contribute to the infrastructure work. I'm proud to say this project is complete. Thank you to everyone who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. This historic lookout benefits thousands of local visitors that come each year to the King County parks. It provides an economic benefit to the communities of Enumclaw, Buckley, and Black Diamond. This is not only a “pinnacle” to a delightful hike. It's also an impressive reminder of what we can achieve through public-private partnership.
In this e-newsletter, I will share an opportunity to let your voices be heard regarding taxes in our state. I will also provide my thoughts regarding the recent hikes in insurance rates and what this means, Washington state redistricting, and the long-term care payroll tax.
You're invited to a town hall hosted by the Tax Structure Work Group
If you are concerned about an income tax or want to discuss the need for tax relief, now is your opportunity to do so; the Tax Structure Work Group is looking for your input.
I want to make you aware of a significant opportunity to make your voice heard on Wednesday, Nov. 3, during two virtual town halls. Residents living in the South/East Puget Sound are invited to participate in these critical tax discussions. Meeting details and registration links are listed below.
South/East Puget Sound: Legislative Districts 5, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 41, 45, 47, 48
As many of you already know, the majority party has approved several tax increases in the past several years, including a new income tax on capital gains. For a complete list of recent tax increases, please click here.
Based on the state's current economic status, there is simply no reason to raise taxes. Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our state's tax revenue forecast is robust. The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council announced in September shows a continuing trend of solid tax revenue collections.
Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Please consider attending one of these important virtual town hall events. If you have questions or want more information, please click here.
Have you noticed your insurance rates going up?
In June, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency rule banning credit scoring for setting insurance rates after he didn't gain traction on his proposed legislation (Senate Bill 5010) in the Legislature during the 2021 session. Many of you have reached out to me wondering why you're starting to see increases in your home, auto, and renter's insurance rates. This is why.
Choosing to do this now when many of you are suffering from financial hardships due to the pandemic is wrong – especially when it's done through another top-level bureaucratic rule without the proper input from the Legislative branch, and most importantly you. As quoted in an opinion piece by my 18th District colleague, Rep. Brandon Vick, “If your rates went up, blame Commissioner Kreidler. If you want to do something about it, tell the commissioner how upset you are and then contact your state legislators.”
Rather than address the root cause, Commissioner Kreidler wants to punish fiscally responsible Washingtonians. We should be educating our youth and students about fiscal responsibility and financial management and helping them build their credit scores. A good credit score is one of many reliable tools used by many businesses, including the insurance industry, to help evaluate potential customers.
The Legislature did not approve this effort, and it's unfortunate that politicians, such as Gov. Inslee and Commissioner Kreidler, are taking advantage of the pandemic to bypass the Legislature and issue emergency orders against the wishes of Washington's citizens. This will needlessly cost families more at a time when they can least afford it.
Recently in the news, we've learned that a Thurston County Superior Court judge has rolled back this particular executive power overreach. You can read two articles at the links below.
- From MyNorthwest: With insurance rates at stake, judge rolls back Washington's executive power
- From KIRO 7: Judge overturns emergency order removing credit scoring from insurance rates
I will keep you updated on this issue as it continues to unfold.
Washington state redistricting efforts underway
After the federal government publishes updated census information every ten years, Washington state redraws the boundaries of its congressional and state legislative electoral districts to ensure that each district represents an equal number of residents. Those efforts are currently underway.
The four members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission recently submitted their first draft of legislative maps. You can find these maps and commissioner statements by clicking here.
At least three of the commission members are supposed to agree on a final plan by Nov. 15. If they can't agree, the final decision will be left to the state Supreme Court. To learn more about how you can be involved, click here.
The new long-term care payroll tax: Now is the time to opt-out — if you can
In a previous e-newsletter, I discussed the new long-term care payroll tax that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. On that date, all employees in Washington state will be forced to pay 58 cents per $100 earned from their paychecks to provide for the new state long-term care program, known as the WA Cares Fund.
Unfortunately, if you have yet to purchase a long-term care plan or made plans for one before Nov. 1, it will be nearly impossible to get long-term care insurance because insurance companies are so overloaded causing them to stop offering and selling policies in our state.
Many people are still learning about this upcoming payroll tax and now have no ability to get out from under it. That's very concerning to me and why a bipartisan group of state lawmakers recently sent a letter to the governor asking him to suspend the new payroll tax.
Several newspaper editorial boards have also supported the call to suspend this new payroll tax.
- From The Columbian: Inslee should suspend WA Cares program law
- From The Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee should extend deadline for long-term care insurance
For more information on this issue, please click here, or you can always contact my office. My contact information is at the bottom of this email.
It's an honor to serve you.
In your service,