Legisletter – March 9, 2019

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Week Eight
The Legislature spent this week on the floor voting on bills that have made their way out of the policy and budget committees. As your government relations team, we have been extremely busy battling a host of bad bills. Unfortunately, the urban majorities continue to pass these bills out, especially in the Senate, but we have been able to make some of the bills incrementally better. But as they often say here in Olympia, a less bad bill is often still a “bad bill!”
A Tale of Two Very Different Perspectives
There were two public statements made this week that display the vast chasm that exists between the governor’s perspective of session and that of a legislator who represents a district where farming is vital to the rural community he represents.
This week the governor started his weekly meeting with reporters with this statement: “Good news. This is shaping up to be one of the best legislative sessions for quite a period of time. There are a lot of signs the session is going to be very productive.”
Contrast that statement with the one made by Sen. Doug Ericksen during the floor debate on the H-2A fee bill.
“The frustration has been rising all session,” he said. “The job base in my district has been so under attack by the Legislature this year.”
As examples of the attacks being made on agriculture, Ericksen cited the H-2A fee bill and the ag slavery bill that accused family farmers of being involved with human trafficking and slavery.
“To always have the people who live in the cities who don’t have farms telling the people who live in the country who do have farms how to [live their lives] is very frustrating,” said Ericksen who represents farmers in Whatcom County.
H-2A Farmworker Fee Bill Update
Last Wednesday night, the H-2A fee bill passed off the floor of the Senate. Although Majority Leader Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) had advised that he would not run the bill until Thursday, the bill came to the floor late Wednesday afternoon with no warning.
While the bill ended up passing along party lines, the floor debate ranks up there with some of the best in years due to the excellent defense of farmers presented by Sens. Curtis King (R-Yakima), Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville), Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake), Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), Shelly Short (R-Colville), Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) and many others.
We’d like to highlight the work of Sen. King who put in significant work to try and find a compromise on this bill. He had made notable progress but in the end his amendments did not receive enough votes to pass. You can listen to one of his floor speeches here. Another floor speech worth watching was the one given by Sen. Ericksen’s speech which you can watch here.
SB 5438 is now headed to the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee to start the committee public hearing process all over again. Please call or write the members of this committee and ask them to oppose this bill! Your pressure and support matters.
Rep. Mike Sells (D), Chair
(360) 786-7840
Rep. Mike Chapman (D)
(360) 786-7916
Rep. Gina Mosbrucker (R)
(360) 786-7856
Rep. Bruce Chandler (R)
(360) 786-7960
Rep. Mia Gregerson (D)
(360) 786-7868
Rep. Larry Hoff (R)
(360) 786-7812
Rep. Timm Ormsby (D)
(360) 786-7946
2019-21 Transportation Package
Every two years, the Legislature passes a transportation package. This includes funding (most often using existing revenue or bonds and sometimes a new gas tax) to pay for list of newly proposed projects. Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, recently released his transportation package in the form of Senate Bills 5970, 5971 and 5972.
Uniquely, Sen. Hobbs has included a carbon tax in his package (SB 5971), as well as many other tax increases, that he proposes to use to pay for new projects. In previous years, legislative proposals to create a carbon tax earmarked the new revenue for environmental projects. Sen. Hobbs’ justification for adding it to his transportation package is that vehicles emit a significant amount of carbon; therefore, carbon revenue should go back into transportation. For better or worse, many members in his own caucus do not agree with that position and would prefer the money be allocated to environmental projects. Worth noting, Sen. Hobbs’ package also includes a gas tax increase of 6¢/gallon. In its current state, Farm Bureau opposes the Senate transportation budget.
Please note these proposals have not yet been approved by the Senate and they still must be negotiated with the House and Governor’s Office. With that in mind, know that many changes will be made to this proposal before the end of the legislative session.
Making Concealed Pistol License Harder to Get
Senate Bill 5174, sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-Bothell), would increase the time, cost and government red tape that law-abiding adults must go through in order to obtain a Concealed Pistol License by requiring a mandatory training course that meets arbitrary standards.  Adding additional barriers to law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise a constitutional right will not improve public safety.  Concealed carry permit holders have consistently demonstrated themselves to be one of the most law-abiding segments of the population in Washington and across the country.  Hindering them from being able to defend themselves and their families would not affect criminals who do not obey the law. If you don’t support legislation like this, please let your state senator know you oppose SB 5174.

We’ll leave you with this latest post on our Facebook page in case you missed it:

Stay tuned.