This is week three of the scheduled 60-day session – and thanks to your help, including phone calls, e-mails, in-person visits to the state Capitol, and your support, we are making a big difference under the banner of The Freedom Agenda. Our scorecard this session totals 14 national news stories on two Freedom Agenda bills. We've also had one national television interview and a national radio interview on our legislation.
Below are highlights from last week, items that need YOUR action, and the BAD BILL of the week. I encourage your involvement, attention and participation in our Republic form of government. Here's how:
- Watch my Legislative Video Update. Every two weeks, I record a video update of the current activities in the Legislature. It is also shown at various times on Spokane City Cable 5.
- Check out all of my prime- and co-sponsored bills here.
- Listen to our Freedom Agenda podcast on Sound Cloud.
- Go to Facebook and look for Freedom Agenda Washington.
- Visit my website: www.representativemattshea.com
- Subscribe to my RSS audio page here.
Your support has carried us far in our efforts toward lower taxes, less government and more freedom. Help us to continue to carry that torch and light the way to a better Washington for us, our families and future generations.
PASS-THRU FOOD BILL AWAITS COMMITTEE ACTION
There's an entirely new business model originating from Zaycon Foods in Spokane Valley that could be the next Amazon-type way of getting food to your home. You order your food over the Internet. It is packaged, processed, inspected by the USDA, and comes directly from the farm to a central distribution point, where you pick it up at a significant savings from what you might pay at the grocery store.
House Bill 1827 would create a license for pass-thru wholesale food distributors, such as Zaycon, that deliver pre-packaged food directly to the consumer. The measure is needed, because such companies often deliver through multiple health jurisdictions that have different food service rules and regulations, and they are required to purchase food service permits like restaurants must do, even though they are a food delivery service. By allowing these companies to be licensed as a “pass-thru wholesale food distributor,” it exempts them from the many onerous rules of local jurisdictions. The distributors must still meet strict standards by the USDA and the Department of Agriculture.
The bill had a hearing Jan. 17 in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. You can watch my testimony on TVW here at the beginning of the video and the rest of the testimony, beginning at 8:05 in the recording. We are now awaiting executive action by the committee.
PROHIBITING TRANSPORTATION MONEY FOR PUBLIC ART
The House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 2092, a measure I introduced to prohibit transportation funds from being used for public art. This would include textured concrete, which could add about 1 percent or more to the cost of concrete on a bridge or wall. A design engineer testified that textured concrete may be used to discourage graffiti. However, I made the point that it is more difficult to remove graffiti from textured concrete than the non-textured type. While some who testified said little money is spent on art during transportation projects, our research shows differently. Public monies are used for art in transportation buildings and our analysts determined this bill could save $10 million that could be directed toward advancement of the North-South Freeway project. Watch the public hearing on TVW here.
MORE THAN 7,000 MARCH FOR LIFE
It was my honor to be one of the featured speakers at the annual March for Life Rally at the state Capitol last Tuesday. This march attracts thousands who come to the Capitol to support life in the womb and reject abortion. My message to the audience: “Without life, there can be no freedom. If we get the life issue wrong, we get every other issue wrong. God is the author of life, not government.” Read more here.
HOUSE GIVES UNANIMOUS APPROVAL TO FRESH WATER DOCKS BILL
House Bill 1090 is a measure I authored last year that would incentivize the use of environmentally-friendly materials for fresh water dock construction. The measure would help both fresh water dock manufacturers in the Spokane area create jobs. It passed the House and a Senate committee last year, but time ran out in the regular session before the Senate could act on the floor. So the measure came back to the House. Last Wednesday, the House approved the bill unanimously and it is back under consideration in the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. You can listen to my floor speech and passage of the bill here.
EXEMPTING FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION FROM SALES TAXES
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of a bill introduced last Monday by my Freedom Agenda colleague, Rep. Jason Overstreet, that would exempt firearms and ammunition from Washington state sales taxes. House Bill 2529 would “encourage the purchase of firearms and firearm ammunition within the borders of Washington state to ensure the economic health of Washington-based retail businesses.” The bill caught the attention of KTTH conservative talk show host Ben Shapiro, who invited me and Rep. Overstreet on his program. You can listen to that radio show here.
ACTION ITEMS – Take action NOW to move important legislation forward!
- INDUSTRIAL HEMP
House Bill 1888, which would legalize growing and sales of industrial hemp, could create an entirely new industry in the state of Washington and have a tremendous positive impact on our state's economy. Industrial hemp is used in many methods, from hemp milk to hempcrete, which is a mold- and fire-resistant building material (Read more about this substance here.) The measure received a public hearing last spring in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology, but a committee vote was never taken. We need that vote to take place! Contact the committee chairman, Rep. Zack Hudgins, and ask him to bring this bill up for a vote!
- STAND YOUR GROUND LAW
House Bill 2324 would place into statute what is commonly known as “Stand Your Ground,” meaning you have the legal right not to retreat when you are defending your person and your home. This would create predictability in the law, ensuring that it is not subject to interpretation each time a case involving this defense goes before the court. The court has already correctly recognized that we are a “Stand Your Ground” state. I'm offering this bill to protect families, such as Sandra Mize, a 63-year-old grandmother in Spokane, who was confronted last April by an intruder in her home and defended herself with a .22 caliber handgun until police arrived. She credits the gun with saving her life. That's why this bill needs to become law. The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Contact the committee chairman, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, and ask that a hearing be scheduled on House Bill 2324!
BAD BILL – Governor's Carbon Fuel Tax
A carbon fuel tax likely won't come as a bill, but it could come as a direct executive order from Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor has indicated he may order climate change rules, including low-carbon fuel standards, which would require refiners to blend gasoline and diesel fuel with an advanced low-carbon form of ethanol. According to Washington State Wire, “The cost could be enormous. Consultants to the state climate-change task force last year estimated that the rule would add 93 cents to $1.17 to the cost of a gallon of fuel.”
The average cost of gasoline in our state is $3.295 per gallon. By comparison, Idaho's average price of gas per gallon is $3.122. Now add the cost of the carbon fuel tax to Washington and the price goes up to $4.465 per gallon. Then add the 11.5 cents state gas tax hike Gov. Inslee wants for transportation projects in the state and that would bring the average price of gasoline in Washington to $4.58 a gallon! Remember, THESE ARE THE LOWER WINTER PRICES! Fuel prices increase before summer travel kicks in.