Legislators aren't obligated to act on any of the pending public safety or social concern proposals; all they have to do is establish a budget for the next two years. There is a lot on the "to-do" list of the legislators in Olympia, and just one week to get it all done.
The sole obligation for lawmakers is to enact a two-year budget, and on Friday, the House took a step toward including a tax hike in that new budget, leaving public safety and social problem measures on the table.
The state real estate excise tax, paid by homeowners upon the sale of their properties, was recently approved for an increase by the House Finance Committee. Advocates claim that the state would receive an additional $200 million a year, which could be used to fund the construction of more low-cost dwellings.
According to a legislator, the current housing situation constitutes a significant crisis, and they posit that employing this approach at the state level could be a viable solution. The concept of revenue is comprehended as the result of taxes paid by individuals or businesses, and it is regarded with great importance. Those who are against the tax say it will make the housing situation much worse.
Individuals who are relocating to secure employment and advance their careers experience a reduction in their financial resources due to the increased expenses associated with selling their property. According to Representative Ed Orcutt, a Republican from Kalama, the aforementioned proposal is expected to have consequences for affordable housing.
The governor told KING 5 he would likely accept a tax hike if it were included in the final budget plan, but it is unclear whether that would happen. Along with the budget, lawmakers must also pass legislation regulating police chases and narcotics possession to ensure the public's safety. Many people see these two concerns as more pressing than anything else Congress will address this year.
Police have been pushing politicians to allow for increased chases since 2021 when the state enacted the strictest rules in the nation. There was a measure introduced early in the year to loosen such limits, but a version that has been criticized for being too weak is now expected to pass. However, crimes like auto theft and burglary would still be impossible to pursue.
Engaging in pursuits carries a significant likelihood of sustaining bodily harm or mortality. Representative Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) has expressed concern that the authorization of vehicular pursuits for property crimes in the absence of physical injury may lead to instances of chaos and fatalities.
There was discussion of making marijuana possession a crime again and even full legalization this year, but those proposals have been whittled down to two. With a focus on treatment in both chambers, the Senate enacted a measure making drug possession a severe misdemeanor, but the House opted for a more moderate misdemeanor. However, the police believe that the proposed prison sentence should be in months rather than days, as is the case in the House version.
There will be more individuals spending those few days in prison and considerably fewer people entering therapy if the House version with a misdemeanor punishment passes. According to Steven Strachan of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, this is "the wrong direction."
By canceling the investigation of a possible new airport, legislators made a lot of people pleased, but they also upset certain others in the Capitol. If you've been to Sea-Tac recently, you know it's struggling to keep up with the expansion of western Washington, yet there aren't many areas left to locate a new airport because of that growth.
"You don't see me with my hair on fire all that often, but you might today," remarked Senator Karen Keiser, D-Kent. In 2019, she was successful in passing legislation that established a committee to research and recommend locations for a new major airport. She warned that Sea-Tac is getting very close to becoming overcrowded. Two rural Pierce County locales and one in Thurston County were proposed by the committee.
Residents were opposed to the idea due to worries about pollution, traffic, and the value of their homes. Since the research was carried out during the epidemic, they claimed they had no say in the matter.
Now, lawmakers are proposing a plan to reject that study and conduct a new one with greater public participation, perhaps taking into account the expansion of existing smaller airports like Paine Field. According to Keiser, the government must accept reality.
Short-haul flights from Sea-Tac to Portland are available. When compared to the airport's 1,000 daily flights, the 15 flights operated by Alaska Airlines and the 7 flights operated by Delta are "a drop in the bucket," as Keiser put it.
At long last, it seems that the Suciasaurus rex will be officially recognized as the state dinosaur of California. It took a fourth-grade class four years to get their idea approved by the House and Senate, but they did it in the end.