April 20, 2024 12:05 pm

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After public backlash, Democrat lawmakers will hear 3 of 6 citizen initiatives

OLYMPIA—Washington State House and Senate leaders agree to hold joint public hearings on initiatives I- 2113 (police pursuits), I-2111 (state income tax) and I-2081 (parental rights) on February 27 and 28. Exact times will be confirmed later this week and the hearings will be televised live on the TVW website.

“The fact Democrats in the legislature have scheduled three hearings is a step in the right direction,” Let’s Go Washington founder Brian Heywood responded to the news to three of his citizen group’s initiatives making it to a public hearing. “Next, they need to pass those three initiatives into law to stop an income tax, restore reasonable police pursuit, and reestablish parents as the primary stakeholders in their children’s lives.”

Democratic leadership has confirmed that I-2117, a repeal of the Climate Commitment Act, I-2109, a repeal of the capital gains tax and I-2124, an opt-out of Washington’s long-term care retirement program will not receive hearings or floor action, and will go directly to the November ballot.

“The three initiatives we are not taking action on would have a dire effect on the day to day lives of every single Washingtonian,” Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins released in a joint announcement on February 16. “These initiatives would dramatically decrease quality of life and devastate progress on K-12 education, childcare, clean air, clean water, climate action, and aging with dignity – matters that are important to people across the state. The fiscal notes on I-2109 and I-2117 confirm this and we expect the final fiscal note on I-2124 to reveal the same.”

Heywood disagreed with Billig and Jenkins saying, ““It is intriguing to me that the pet projects of Jay Inslee and his crony union bosses won’t be getting hearings. Voters have said that all six of these issues are important, and they deserve to be heard.”

Senate Republicans blasted Democrats, with a post on X saying, “stop the greed” accompanied by the hashtag #StopTheGreed.

“Expect Legislative Democrats and Inslee to warn that repealing cap-and-trade takes away money for vital transportation projects,” Washington State Senate Republican Caucus posted to X. “Guess again. Only 20% of cap-and-trade revenue would go to transportation, and that’s a small fraction of what our state needs. Besides, this is not your everyday transportation funding. Cap-and-trade law money can only go to “carbon-reducing” investments — think free transit for kids and more money for walking, biking and hiking trails. Highway maintenance and construction don’t qualify. Same for court-mandated fish-culvert replacements, which are considered a transportation expense and have become a real budget-buster.”

marko liias
Marko Liias

Senator Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and Republican House Speaker Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn), exchanged words on X regarding the impact of I-2117, which, if enacted into law would prohibit carbon tax credit trading, also known as “cap-and-invest,” and repeal provisions of the Washington Climate Commitment Act passed by the legislature on April 24, 2021, and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 17 of that same year.

In a post on X, Senator Liias alleges that I-2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act and remove $4.5 billion away from transportation funding projects across Washington State.

“That devastation would force difficult choices and potentially put at risk funding for critical work on the preservation and maintenance of roads in every community,” Liias added.

Senator Liias co-championed the $16 billion, 16-year “Move Ahead Washington” transportation package to victory in March of 2022 that aimed to fund existing mega projects, highway preservation and maintenance, expansion of fish culverts, and introduce new hybrid electric ferries.

Drew Stokesbary
Drew Stokesbary

Also included in the Move Ahead Washington package, is to invest billions of dollars in safe routes for pedestrians and bicyclists, including the Safe Routes to School Program, the ferry system, transit and about $150 million in high-speed rail. This is to be largely funded ($5.4 billion) by the Climate Commitment Act, to avoid increasing gas taxes. The Move Ahead Washington package also includes $3.4 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) championed.

Republican House Leader Stokesbary, the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee and former member of the House Finance Committee, wrote in response to Senator Liias’ X post, “Senator, not a dime of CCA revenue goes to maintenance and preservation of our highways. De-funding that work would be a devastating choice—costing thousands of union jobs in our districts and longer commute times for our constituents.”

initiatives

Representative Stokesbary then released a spreadsheet of the Transportation Budget Climate Commitment Act Spending through 2023 to 2029 showing none of the monies going to funding “critical” transportation projects and only so-called green projects such as electric vehicle stations, free youth fairs on public transit, a lot of transit grants, and ferry electrification.

initiatives

In a second post on X the following day, Senator Liias, warned that bridge maintenance is at risk if I-2117 is repealed by voters.

Founder of Let’s Go Washington, Brian Heywood, replied to Liias’ X post saying, “the cap-and-trade hidden tax not about the environment, it is all about the Benjamins, all about the money, all about the Cha ching cha ching, all about the ba bling ba bling.”

initiatives

Lawmakers have until March 7 to vote to accept or reject the three initiatives Democratic Leadership approved for public hearings on February 27 and 28. If lawmakers make any changes to or fail to pass any of the three initiatives as is, voters will decide to approve or reject these in the November 5th General Election.

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