Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As you know, I often talk about the importance of respecting the will of the people. And that's because far too often, legislators here in Olympia make decisions based on what they want rather than what you want.
Take the first 30 days of this year's 60-day legislative session, for example. Despite the fact voters have said 'no' to higher taxes time and time again, the majority prioritized the passage of two tax increase bills.
The first significant bill they brought to the floor would impose a low-carbon fuel standard mandate in Washington that would effectively serve as a massive gas tax increase. Under House Bill 1110, the state's Department of Ecology would be tasked with creating a program to reduce the carbon content in transportation fuels. Such a program would increase fuel suppliers' costs dramatically, but it's you and I who would ultimately foot the bill.
As Rep. Brandon Vick and I wrote in a recent op-ed:
“All of us in the Legislature want to foster a clean and healthy environment that preserves our state's magnificent forests, mountains, fields, rivers, and lakes. But we can't pretend the implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard mandate is going to fix what is a global problem. Raising everyone's costs for a policy that would likely only reduce the carbon in Washington's atmosphere by a fraction of a percent simply does not make sense.“
You can read our full op-ed here.
The second significant bill the majority brought to the floor, which has since been signed into law by the governor, expands the B&O tax increase they passed on 85,000 service businesses last session. Since the initial tax increase didn't bring in as much revenue as expected, they chose this session to expand it to an additional 4,400 businesses. That's unfortunate for many reasons, including the fact increasing taxes on these businesses will only serve to compound some of the biggest problems facing our state: the lack of affordable housing, the cost of health care, stagnant economic growth in many of our rural communities, a series of transportation challenges, and more.
There is no doubt in my mind voters would have rejected both of these bills had they been on the ballot. The majority understands that as well, but they have clearly decided their agenda is more important than respecting the will of the people. While we don't have the votes to stop bad policies from becoming law, we will continue doing everything we can to stand up for you and your family this session.
An overview of some of the bills I have sponsored this year
My goal in this job is to help the people in our district as much as I can. I love our district. It's been my home for more than 40 years. While some of the bills I sponsor will be broad in scope, others will be narrower. But my hope is always that I can make a positive difference in someone's life. Below are some of the bills I've sponsored this year. Please don't hesitate to send me an email if you'd like more information or have questions about any of them.
House Bill 2875 – Our state issues many professional licenses. My bill would establish a five-year review process that would help determine if any changes should be made to further improve the state's licensing program and processes. We want the program to protect Washingtonians and ensure our local businesses can attract qualified candidates, but not retain unnecessary licensing requirements.
House Bill 2714 – The Forest Riparian Easement Program (FREP) impacts the lives of many small forest landowners in Clark County. Currently, the program reimburses eligible landowners for a minimum of 50 percent of the value of the trees they must, by law, leave to protect riparian habitat. In the event our state adopts a climate strategy, my bill would require the Department of Natural Resources to share information regarding the carbon sequestration benefits of the FREP. Additionally, if and when a carbon sequestering value is established, my bill would provide an opportunity for small forest landowners to receive compensation for that value.
House Bill 2371 – Several years ago, a family was killed on a railroad bridge in Clark County. The road leading up to and under the bridge is now frequently used as an illegal drug injection site, and several people have died on location. My bill would begin the process of preventing access to that road.
I've also co-sponsored a number of Rep. Vick's bills that focus on easing occupational licensing regulations in our state. You can learn more about those bills here.
Celebrating Navy Day at the Capitol
Late last month, we celebrated Navy Day here in the House. I had the privilege of being one of the speakers chosen to deliver remarks in favor of HR 4652 when it came to the floor. I spoke about my four years of service in the Navy, and honored my friend, Lt. Michael Haifley, who died in service to our country during the Vietnam War.
Please continue contacting me with any comments, questions or concerns you have. My phone number here in Olympia is (360) 786-7812, and my email address is Larry.Hoff@leg.wa.gov.
It is an honor to serve you.