In December the King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee met to finalize their Legislative Action Agenda for 2010. The 2010 Washington State Legislature convenes on January 11, 2010. The session only lasts 60 days. The main focus will be on dealing with a projected additional $2.6 billion shortfall for the remainder of this 2 year budget cycle.
The King County Democrats Legislative Action Agenda includes both short and long term priority goals, realizing that it will be difficult to enact new legislation in this short session under difficult budget constraints. The 2009 Legislative session raised no new revenue.
The King County Democrats support trying to bridge this new gap of an additional $2.6 billion shortfall by trying to raise 2/3 of it through new revenue and 1/3 by additional cuts. This will require suspending or repealing the constraints of Initiative 960 which require a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to raise any revenue or eliminate any special interest tax exemptions.
I-960, having been in place 2 years, can now be amended or repealed by a simple majority of the Washington State Legislature. I-960 is actually in contradiction to the Washington State Constitution which says the Legislature shall act by majority vote. I-960 allows a minority of Legislators to block any revenue increase and Legislators have been reluctant to question the constitutionality of I-960. A suit by Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown was not acted on by the State Supreme Court saying it was an internal issue for the Legislature, not the Courts, to address.
Below is the Adopted 2010 Legislative Agenda for the King County Democrats:
King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee
2010 Legislative Agenda
• Repeal I-960 and raise revenue to provide adequate funding for vital state services – repeal provisions requiring supermajority votes to approve tax and revenue issues, raise at least 2/3 of shortfall via new revenue and repealing tax exemptions
2. Tax Reform
• Repeal non-performing corporate tax breaks, sunset tax exemptions every 5 to10 years
• Require Tax Expenditure Reports as part of state budget process, prioritize exemptions, require approval as part of budget process
• Implement a state income tax on high income earners over $250,000
• Tax reduction for low income households and small businesses – Homestead Exemption or circuit breaker legislation
3. Banking, Foreclosure and Predatory Lending Reform
• Require lenders to use mediation, require proper maintenance of foreclosed homes, give homeowners right to rent former homes, increase state enforcement powers, extend initial timeline to respond to foreclosure to 90 days from 30 days, and give whistle-blower protections to employees at lending institutions.
• Establish a public Washington State Bank similar to North Dakota’s for infrastructure
4. Human Services
• “Disability Lifeline”–Protect poverty programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Apple Health for kids, Basic Health, Emergency Food Assistance, Medicaid, mental health, substance abuse treatment and General Assistance for people with disabilities
• Prohibit source of income (e.g., Sec. 8) as a means to discriminate
• Pass Fair Tenant Screening Act to regulate screeners and make reports valid for 60 days
• Promote State Housing Trust Fund at 50% of previous level of effort (or $50 million) as a shovel-ready jobs bill
• Workforce Housing Fund Construct or purchase 25,000 rental units through housing authorities for working families at or below 80% of median income
• Homebuilding Revitalization Act –give homeowners recourse to remedy defects in new homes that need repair
6. Environmental Priorities:
• Invest in Clean Water Bill (HB 1640) raise funds for clean water infrastructure and storm water control by imposing a per-barrel fee on petroleum products.
• Safe Baby Bottle Act will phase out harmful bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles, etc.
• Oppose budget cuts to environmental programs
• Create recycling program for fluorescent lights – require lighting producers to provide a convenient statewide recycling program for fluorescent lights to prevent exposure to and release of toxic mercury
7. Public Health and Safety
• Secure Medicine Return – require drug producers to provide secure collection and environmentally sound disposal of unwanted, unused, or expired medicines, as they do in other countries.
8. Election and Initiative Reform
• Public Financing of campaigns for Washington State Supreme Court – optional public financing for campaigns, providing adequate sums to run competitive campaigns
• Universal Voter Registration – opt out, not opt in, legislation for motor voter registration
• Same-day voter registration
• Increase initiative filing fee to $100; $25 when file with Secretary of State, $75 when re-file for ballot title and summary; alt – $100 or 500 signatures
• Require signature gatherers to be Washington State residents
• Set up Citizen’s Initiative Review Process like recent Oregon legislation.
• Support initiative signatures being public
9. L&I “Retro Reform”
• Greater regulation and transparency of L&I insurance pool refunds(S 6035)
• Collective bargaining for musicians, early childhood educators, 2-year college faculty, lecturers and interpreters
• Require prevailing wages to be paid on all public private partnerships and projects involving public or private land
• Redefining funding formula for basic education
• More options for helping underperforming schools
• Levy Equalization
• Include early learning education for at risk children in definition of basic education
12. Criminal Justice
• Revise three strikes and sentencing guidelines
• Change how juveniles are sentenced as adults
King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee
. – Sarajane Siegfriedt & Steve Zemke Co-Chairs
Adopted by Legislative Action Committee 12/13/2009