Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached the halfway mark of this 105-day session! We have spent the last couple of weeks voting on the House floor. Here are some highlights of the recent floor action and other important issues I have been working on.
Supporting school-based efforts to reduce truancy
and workgroup recommendations for children's mental health
During recent floor action, we voted on hundreds of bills. I was proud to support two pieces of legislation important to me. The first was House Bill 1170. This would maintain and facilitate court-based and school-based efforts to promote attendance and reduce truancy. It's great to be looking at alternatives to the normal process of dealing with truancy in the juvenile court system and the Becca law. We need to bring truancy issues back into schools to promote better attendance. The second bill was House Bill 1713. This would establish recommendations from the children's mental health workgroup. This group worked hard on issues related to mental health and substance abuse within our schools. These recommendations will get much needed help to our youth and schools. For more information on these bills, and the power of constituency outreach, please watch the latest edition of the 'Barkis Breakdown.' You can do so by clicking on the photo below.
Sound Transit 3 sticker shock
Unfairness to taxpayers
I have heard many complaints and concerns surrounding the Sound Transit 3 taxes and the heavy impact to our district. I, along with fellow House Republican lawmakers, have asked Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, to take immediate action. The Senate recently passed several bills seeking relief options for this issue. It is time for these bills to be expedited to the House floor for approval. You can read the letter we sent to Speaker Chopp here.
Here is some background information on this issue. In November 2016, voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties passed Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3). The ballot measure failed in Pierce County, but passed in King County with 57.9 percent, and Snohomish County with 51 percent of the vote. The $54 billion ballot measure increased the sales tax (increased to 1.4 percent), property tax ($25 per $100,000 home value, including commercial property), and car tab amounts ($110 per $10,000 vehicle value) in these three counties. These taxes will fund projects for light rail, bus and park-and-ride projects over the next three decades.
Here are some of the problems with ST3:
- Sticker shock. Many of you have received your car tab renewal notices and found drastic increases in the fees. These increases are due to Sound Transit using an inflated formula to calculate how much your car is worth. This is unfair. You shouldn't have to pay a higher fee on a value exceeding the actual value of your car. House Republicans proposed a solution. House Bill 2132 would tie the formula to the Kelley Blue Book value. This would bring more fairness to the formula. The Senate also proposed a companion, Senate Bill 5851.
- Sound Transit is not accountable to voters. The Senate approved a solution, with a vote of 29-20, on March 1. Senate Bill 5001 would change the board of a Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) from appointed to elected. This would also reduce the number of directly elected board members from 19 to 11.
- There are 285 properties impacted by ST3 that sit in and outside of boundary lines. House Republicans proposed a solution. House Bill 1958 would prohibit regional transit authority property taxes on less than a whole parcel.
- There are other solutions that have been brought to the table. Legislation that would allow local governments to opt-out of paying the three ST3 taxes. And, another bill that would allow counties and cities to exempt their residents from the ST3 property tax increase.
We will continue to work hard to find a solution, and some relief, to this huge issue!
Are you following my bi-weekly Podcasts? Join me and listen to the series.
Thank you for taking the time to read my legislative email updates. Please feel free to share these updates with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe. As your voice in Olympia, I am most effective when I hear the issues, concerns and questions directly from you. I welcome you to share your thoughts with me on the information covered in this update, and any other issues important to you, your family, or your business. Please feel free to call my office at (360) 786-7824, or email me.
It's an honor to serve you.