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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to bring you another update to the 2020 legislative session that kicked off on Jan. 13 and is scheduled to adjourn March 12. We have been very busy introducing, hearing, and debating hundreds of bills.

We have passed the house of origin cutoff date – House bills had to be out of the House, and Senate bills out of the Senate. This past week we spent long hours on the House floor debating bills.

In this update I break down the bills I was able to get to the Senate and some I am still working on. I will also give an overview of our recent revenue forecast.

Early learning provider legislation

Good news! My legislation to provide some regulatory relief for early learning providers passed the House unanimously.

My House Bill 2556 would create a community-based training pathway for licensed child care providers to meet professional education requirements associated with child care licensure.

The bill would also require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges to develop a plan to allow community-based training to qualify for college credit.

All the time and effort we have been putting in to address the concerns of our child care and early learning providers is paying off. My bill has already been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee on Monday, Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m. in the Cherberg Building, Senate Hearing Room 1. I urge you to attend and testify if possible. We need to get this bill to the governor's desk.

This is common sense legislation and does not put providers in a position of being over-regulated. It gives us an opportunity to make child care more accessible and affordable. Click here to watch my latest video on this legislation. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Rep. Dent talks with child care provider Mechelle Moran.

Ag Forestry legislation

Last year, I sponsored House Bill 1187 and it passed the House unanimously, but it did not make it out of the Senate. Once again, the House has unanimously passed the bill and sent it to the Senate. This legislation would eliminate the requirement that eligible conservation district-sponsored fish habitat enhancement projects follow design standards established by the Washington Conservation Commission through an interagency agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Instead, conservation districts would approve the fish habitat enhancement projects.  It makes the process much more efficient.

This bill has already had a public hearing in the Senate and was voted out of committee. It could come to the Senate floor for a vote at anytime.

Wildland Fire Advisory Committee

House Bill 1894 has also passed the House unanimously. The legislation expands the scope of the report to be submitted by the Wildland Fire Advisory Committee to the Legislature. It would provide an opportunity to look into Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) in greater depth by focusing on protection methods that are most appropriate for lands not under fire protection jurisdiction, including what levels of training are needed for RFPAs.

This bill has a public hearing scheduled in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Rep. Dent during a prescribed burning tour last fall.

Aviation bills

Two other bills I am still working on:

House Bill 1457 would change current distribution of the aircraft fuel retail tax and reallocate one percent of the total tax revenue to the state aeronautics account.

House Bill 2880 would exempt aircraft fuel from sales and use tax if the fuel is used for certain research and development purposes and the taxpayer hires at least 20 new employees. This tax preference would allow for the aviation industry to continue to grow and would generate more jobs in Grant County.

Both of these bills may be considered “necessary to implement the budget” or NTIB. So, while they are not in the Senate, they are still alive as we work on our three budgets – operating, capital and transportation.

State revenues continue to climb

On Wednesday, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) announced a surge of $1.1 billion in unexpected, new revenue during the state's quarterly revenue forecast. In total, the state now has a $2.4 billion budget surplus.

With the state coffers plenty full, House Republicans believe it is time to give some back to you – the taxpayers.

Rep. Drew Stokesbary has introduced a bill to provide $1 billion in tax relief for Washington's working families. All 40 members of the House Republican Caucus have signed on to the measure.

House Bill 2946 would:

  • Uphold voters' choice for $30 car tabs, while ensuring stable funding for roads and transit.
  • Eliminate the sales tax on prepared food items sold at grocery stores.
  • Eliminate the sales tax on personal necessities.

Instead of always spending the surplus revenues that come in, let's provide some tax relief to working families and the taxpayers of Washington. After all, it is your money.

I want to thank you for being so engaged in the political process. We have received thousands of emails this week. We are working hard to respond to everyone. Keep in mind, I have just one staff person.

That said, please continue to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns about legislative issues before us. Your feedback is important as we consider the many issues that impact our communities and state.

It is an honor to serve as your state representative.

Sincerely,


Tom Dent

State Representative Tom Dent, 13th Legislative District
RepresentativeTomDent.com
437 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
tom.dent@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7932 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000