Washington Policy Blog

Exempting transportation projects from sales tax finds some agreement in legislature

November 15, 2013 in Blog

According to the washingtonstatewire.com, Representative Judy Clibborn (D-41st), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, has said she would approve of exempting transportation projects from sales tax.

The state charges itself sales tax on transportation, and exemption could mean millions of dollars would cease being diverted into the general fund every year. There is still some opposition in the House, however.

One Day After WPC Conference on Right-to-Work, Lawmaker Calls for Right-to-Work Special Legislative Session

November 14, 2013 in Blog

One day after participating in Washington Policy Center’s back-to-back Solutions Summit statewide policy conferences discussing whether a “right-to-work” policy is right for Washington State, Senator Michael Baumgartner today called for Governor Inslee to convene a special session to make Washington a right-to-work state. 

Kreidler says Washington residents who like their health plans cannot keep their health plans

November 14, 2013 in Blog

The national policy announced by President Obama today that is intended to allow people who like their health care coverage to keep it will not be available to Washington state residents. The problem arose when the country learned in recent weeks that the President's oft-repeated pledge that, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period," is untrue.

Governor Inslee proposes sales-tax relief for private construction, while charging full state tax on public projects

November 11, 2013 in Blog

Governor Inslee last week announced his plan to improve the business climate for Boeing in an effort to keep 777x production in Washington State.  The governor convened a special session and called for lawmakers to pass a $10 billion transportation tax package. Lawmakers say the package would include an increase in gas taxes and increased license fees.

Will Lands Commissioner Goldmark Stand Up for His GMO Crops?

November 10, 2013 in Blog

Now that the GMO labeling debate has subsidized (it will assuredly return), it is time for many who support biotechnology, but were unwilling to say so during the campaign, to stand up for that technology. One person who was noticeably absent from the recent debate about biotechnology crops was Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark.

When he ran for office in 2008, Goldmark, a PhD molecular biologist, spoke frequently of his creation of a GMO strain of wheat. In his voters' pamphlet statement in both 2008 and 2012 he listed himself as a "wheat breeder/scientist."

No more ludicrous speed lawmaking

November 9, 2013 in Blog

Now that lawmakers have saved the state's Boeing "destiny for a generation" (pending a Wednesday vote by Boeing unions), let's hope we can get them to commit to abandoning future "ludicrous speed" lawmaking.

Inslee Proposal to Combine Cap-and-Trade and Low-Carbon Fuel Standard Is Costly and Ineffective

November 6, 2013 in Blog

When Governor Inslee signed the regional climate agreement last week, it included two policies he had already advocated publicly as part of the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup (CLEW) process. It called for a cap-and-trade system and a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) which would require fuel to have less carbon per gallon than standard gasoline (among other things). Including both of these policies, however, makes it more expensive to reduce carbon emissions while doing nothing to increase those reductions.

Governor helps Boeing, but don’t school children deserve protection from union disputes too?

November 6, 2013 in Blog

Governor Inslee is clearly worried, as are many Washingtonians, about the power of union executives and their ability to disrupt our state’s aerospace sector. There is a very real danger that the threat of union action in the future could lead Boeing to locate 777x assembly in another state. 

Tax exemptions, transparency, and a hotel bill

November 6, 2013 in Blog

I was supposed to be on the road to Olympia this morning for a Thursday House Finance Work Session to discuss tax exemptions and WPC's recommendation to eliminate targeted tax exemptions and instead replace the B&O tax with a revenue neutral single business tax.

Yakima voters approve WPC recommendation on tax limitation policy

November 6, 2013 in Blog

Yakima has become the second city, and third local government in Washington, to require a higher threshold to increase taxes.

Proposition 1 — a Washington Policy Center recommendation — was approved by nearly 70% of citizens on Tuesday. WPC research showed it was a reasonable taxpayer protection policy.

Governor Inslee calls special session for transportation package

November 5, 2013 in Blog

Governor Inslee announced today that he will call for a special session, beginning this Thursday, to pass a transportation package. According to the governor, an agreement is close. He said that the package would be around $10 billion. Funding for the Columbia River Crossing project will not be a part of the package.

He said a transportation package is needed to keep Boeing in the area, and hopes to have a tax package complete within seven days.

Look for election results tonight, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come

November 5, 2013 in Blog

For most election races we will probably know the outcome sometime tonight. For those close races, however, it will take a few more days and perhaps weeks to know the victors. That is because that although Washington is all vote by mail, ballots aren't due on Election Day but simply need to be postmarked.

For our neighbors in Oregon, however, their ballots are actually due on Election Day. How is that process working for Oregon? Here is what I was told last year by Brenda Bayes, Elections Deputy Director for Oregon:

I-517: Win or lose, lawmakers should consider next steps

November 4, 2013 in Blog

Tomorrow Washingtonians will head to the drop box or mailbox and turn in their ballots passing judgment on I-517 and the changes proposed to the state's initiative system. Depending on the outcome lawmakers will be faced with a couple of options.

Proposed Unemployment Rule Would Hurt Employers and Workers

November 1, 2013 in Blog

The state Employment Security Department (ESD) is considering a seemingly innocuous change to a rule governing the appeals process for unemployment tax and benefit decisions.  However, the rule change would give the state agency an unfair advantage when its decisions are challenged by employers or claimants and seriously undermine confidence in ESD to make unbiased decisions.