Legisletter – March 26, 2019

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Week Ten
 
Budget Update
 
The Good News
The latest state revenue forecast was released last week, and the news was good. Legislative budget writers were told they would have $50.5 billion in revenue to fund the next two-year budget. For contrast, two year’s ago the budget writers had $46.1 billion at their disposal. That represents a 9.6 percent increase in just two years. I think most of us would appreciate a nearly 10 percent growth in income.
The Bad News
How could there be any bad news when the state is rolling in record levels of tax revenue? Surely any planning for new taxes is no longer being discussed. Right?
This is where the story becomes harder to make sense of.
The budget writers know they can continue to fund all existing services, legal obligations and K-12 McCleary commitments with the revenue they already have. Plus, they also know they would have over $500 million in surplus after four years if they held spending at current levels.
But that is where the problems arise.
Yesterday the House Democrats introduced their proposed Operating Budget. It would require $3.1 billion in additional tax dollars to balance.
Here’s how they propose to do it:
  • B&O tax increase on certain industries (e.g., high tech, engineering) to fund a dedicated account for higher education and workforce training. (HB 2158)
  • Graduated Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). Increases REET in a manner that will disproportionately impact commercial, industrial and multi-family housing. The good news is agricultural land, timberland, undeveloped land or water rights are exempted from the higher REET created in this bill. (HB 2156)
  • Repeals a few tax preferences but does not impact agriculture directly. (HB 2157)
  • 9.9% tax on capital gains over $100,000 for an individual or $200,000 for individuals filing jointly. It does include an exemption for agricultural land by an individual who has continuous ownership of the land for the ten years prior to the date of the sale or exchange of the agricultural land. (HB 2156)
The Senate’s proposed budget and tax proposals will be released tomorrow at 11:30. Stay tuned for the latest on tax increases.
 
H-2A FEES
 
H-2A Federal Farmworker Fee bill – Hearing this Thursday at 8 am
Senate Bill 5438 is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday, March 28 at 8:00 a.m. in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee.
As we have noted before, the bill will create a state-based application and per worker fees for users of the H-2A program – the first of its kind in the nation.
This year, Washington state will be 30,000 farmworkers short of what agriculture needs for the growing season. Any bill that seeks to limit the availability of the industry’s workforce will negatively affect our entire industry.
Whether you use the H-2A program or not, we’re asking that you please contact the members of the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee and let them know you are a farmer who opposes this bill!
Here is a list of the committee members:

Representative
Email
Phone
Mike Sells (D)
Chair
mike.sells@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7840
Mike Chapman (D)
Vice Chair
mike.chapman@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7916
Gina Mosbrucker (R)
Ranking Minority Member
gina.mosbrucker@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7856
Bruce Chandler (R)
Assistant Ranking Minority Member
bruce.chandler@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7960
Mia Gregerson (D)
mia.gregerson@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7868
Larry Hoff (R)
larry.hoff@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7812
Timm Ormsby (D)
timm.ormsby@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7946
WFB Bill Tracking Bill Status Report
Bill #
Abbrev. Title
Short Description
Status
Sponsor
Priority
Position
E2SHB 1110(SB 5412)
Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels
Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels.
S Transportation
Fitzgibbon
High
Oppose
Christmas tree growers
Extending the program establishing Christmas tree grower licensure.
S Ag/Water/Natura
MacEwen
Medium
Support
HB 1172(SB 5314)
Capital gains tax/prop. tax
Assisting Washington families by improving the fairness of the state’s tax system by enacting a capital gains tax and providing property tax relief.
H Finance
Santos
High
Oppose
HB 1283(SSB 5277)
Agricultural fair funding
Ensuring the funding of agricultural fairs.
H Approps
Dent
Medium
Support
HB 1287(SB 5103)
Natural areas
Regarding establishing natural areas.
H Cap Budget
Griffey
Medium
Support
E3SHB 1324(SSB 5423)
Rural development, zones
Creating the Washington rural development and opportunity zone act.
S Financial Inst,
Chapman
Medium
Support
HB 1343(SB 5129)
Revenue
Increasing revenues for the support of state government.
H Finance
Tarleton
High
Oppose
HB 1426(SB 5585)
Conservation district coop.
Concerning cooperation between conservation districts.
S Rules 2
Ramos
Medium
Support
HB 1429(SB 5447)
Dairy milk assessment fee
Extending the dairy milk assessment fee to June 30, 2025.
S Ag/Water/Natura
Shewmake
Medium
Support
Pistol sales or transfers
Concerning requirements for pistol sales or transfers.
S Law & Justice
Goodman
Medium
Oppose
3SHB 1498(2SSB 5511)
Broadband service
Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities.
S Environment, E
Hudgins
High
Support
DFW dog training, nonlethal
Establishing a department of fish and wildlife directed nonlethal program for the purpose of training dogs.
S Ag/Water/Natura
Blake
High
Support
Chinook abundance
Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance.
S Ag/Water/Natura
Fitzgibbon
High
Oppose
SHB 1587(SB 5583)
Fruits and vegetables access
Increasing access to fruits and vegetables for individuals with limited incomes.
S Ways & Means
Riccelli
Medium
Support
State estate tax, repealing
Repealing the state estate tax.
H Finance
Young
High
Support
ESHB 1622(SB 5675)
Drought preparedness
Concerning drought preparedness and response.
S Ag/Water/Natur
Blake
Medium
Support
HB 1662(SSB 5696)
Payments in lieu of prop tax
Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes.
H Approps
Dent
Medium
Support
Tax exemptions
Increasing tax exemption transparency and accountability.
H Finance
Pollet
High
Oppose
2SHB 1725(SSB 5550)
Pesticide application safety
Implementing the recommendations of the pesticide application safety work group.
S Labor & Commerc
Dent
Medium
Support
Firearms/undetectable, etc.
Concerning firearms that are undetectable or untraceable.
S Law & Justice
Valdez
Medium
Oppose
Wildfire prevention
Concerning wildfire prevention.
S Ag/Water/Natura
Kretz
Medium
Support
Protection, etc. orders
Improving procedures and strengthening laws relating to protection orders, no-contact orders, and restraining orders.
S Law & Justice
Jinkins
Medium
Oppose
HB 1841(SB 5877)
Crew size on certain trains
Establishing minimum crew size on certain trains.
S Labor & Commerc
Riccelli
High
Oppose
HB 1889(SB 5136)
Water infrastructure program
Establishing the water infrastructure program.
H Cap Budget
Dye
High
Support
HB 2074(SB 5956)
Livestock inspection
Concerning livestock inspection.
H Rules C
Blake
Medium
Support
Statewide wolf recovery
Addressing statewide wolf recovery.
S Ag/Water/Natura
Kretz
High
Support
2SHB 2117(SB 5973)
State tax structure
Providing a pathway to modernize and rebalance the Washington state tax structure so that it is equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent for the people of Washington state.
H Rules C
Frame
High
Oppose
Extreme risk protect. orders
Concerning extreme risk protection orders.
H Civil R & Judi
Frockt
Medium
Oppose
SB 5129(HB 1343)
Revenue
Increasing revenues for the support of state government. Gov’s Cap Gains
S Ways & Means
Rolfes
High
Oppose
SB 5130(HB 1228)
Fish barrier removal funding
Increased REET and vehicle weight fees
S Transportation
Rolfes
High
Oppose
SSB 5135(SHB 1194)
Toxic pollution
Preventing toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment.
H Env & Energy
Rolfes
High
Oppose
Invol. treatment procedures
Concerning certain procedures upon initial detention under the involuntary treatment act.
H Civil R & Judi
Kuderer
Medium
Oppose
SSB 5277(HB 1283)
Agricultural fair funding
Ensuring the funding of agricultural fairs.
S Rules X
Warnick
Medium
Support
SB 5314(HB 1172)
Capital gains tax/prop. tax
Assisting Washington families by improving the fairness of the state’s tax system by enacting a capital gains tax and providing property tax relief.
S Ways & Means
Wellman
High
Oppose
ESSB 5330(SHB 1273)
Small forestland owners
Analyzing state regulatory impact on small forestland owners.
H Approps
Braun
Medium
Support
2SSB 5352(SHB 1013)
Walla Walla watershed pilot
Concerning the Walla Walla watershed management pilot program.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Walsh
Medium
Support
ESSB 5434(HB 1530)
Weapons in certain locations
Restricting possession of weapons in certain locations.
H Civil R & Judi
Wilson
Medium
Oppose
E2SSB 5438(HB 1398)
Ag & seasonal workforce srv
Establishing the office of agricultural and seasonal workforce services within the employment security department.
H Labor & Workpla
McCoy
High
Oppose
SB 5447(HB 1429)
Dairy milk assessment fee
Extending the dairy milk assessment fee to June 30, 2025.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Van De Wege
Medium
Support
Irrigation district admin.
Concerning the administration of irrigation districts.
H Local Govt
Takko
Medium
Support
Environ. health disparities
Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities.
H State Govt & Tr
Salda?a
High
Oppose
SB 5503(HB 1338)
On-site sewage systems
Concerning state board of health rules regarding on-site sewage systems.
H Env & Energy
Das
Medium
Support
2SSB 5511(3SHB 1498)
Broadband service
Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities.
H Inn, Tech & E
Wellman
High
Support
Whitetail deer population
Concerning whitetail deer population estimates.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Short
Medium
Support
Pollinators
Concerning the protection of all pollinators, including honey bees.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Liias
Medium
Support
ESSB 5579(HB 1785)
Crude oil volatility/rail
Concerning the volatility of crude oil received in the state by rail.
H Env & Energy
Billig
Medium
Oppose
SB 5585(HB 1426)
Conservation district coop.
Concerning cooperation between conservation districts.
H Local Govt
Takko
Medium
Support
Aerial herbicide application
Creating a work group on aerial herbicide applications in forestlands.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Rolfes
Medium
Oppose
Commercial beekeeper drivers
Concerning commercial beekeeper drivers.
H Trans
King
Medium
Support
Farm products/vehicle weight
Authorizing vehicles or combinations of vehicles carrying farm products to exceed total gross weight limits by two thousand pounds.
H Trans
King
Medium
Support
Livestock identification
Revising livestock identification law.
H RDev, Ag&NR
Warnick
Medium
Support
WA tax structure
Improving the equity and sustainability of Washington’s tax structure.
S Ways & Means
Saldana
High
Oppose
Transportation funding
Concerning transportation funding.
S Ways & Means
Hobbs
High
Oppose
Additive trans funding
Concerning additive transportation funding and appropriations.
S Rules 2
Hobbs
High
Oppose
SB 5973(2SHB 2117)
State tax structure
Providing a pathway to modernize and rebalance the Washington state tax structure so that it is equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent for the people of Washington state.
S Ways & Means
Wellman
High
Oppose
Greenhouse gas emissions TO
Relating to greenhouse gas emissions.
S Environment, E
Honeyford
High
Oppose
Greenhouse gas cap and trade
Implementing a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program.
S Environment, E
Carlyle
High
Oppose
Grad. real estate excise tax
Increasing funding for education by establishing a graduated real estate excise tax.
S Ways & Means
Rolfes
High
Oppose