The five worst bills for Whatcom County

The following newsletter was sent to Sen. Doug Ericksen’s subscribers March 7. To subscribe to Sen. Ericksen’s newsletters, click here.

On the Senate floor.

The five worst bills for Whatcom County

Liberal agenda in Olympia threatens local economy, working families, taxpayers

  • Bills would raise taxes, drive up energy costs, damage local employment
  • Ideology drives legislation – not necessity
  • Impact hardest on those of low and fixed incomes

OLYMPIA – It’s easy to come up with a list of bad bills in Olympia this year. But which are the worst for Whatcom County? That’s a little harder – there are just so many.

The left is pushing an ambitious agenda that threatens not just Whatcom County but the economic freedoms we enjoy in this state and nation. The worst impulses of the Seattle crowd have been unleashed by one-party control of the House, the Senate and the governor’s office. We’re seeing proposals for higher taxes and higher energy costs that would slam working families and make it harder for small business and manufacturers to create good-paying jobs.

Five years of Republican control in the Senate prevented these dangerous proposals from moving forward, and left our economy in a strong position. But we are on the defense now that control of the Legislature has shifted. This is a difficult time for those of us who believe in limiting government manipulation of our economy, keeping taxes low and preserving the ability of the free market to make efficient decisions.

In the weeks ahead, we will see major debates on these proposals. To defeat them, Republicans will have to work together with sensible Democrats. We will need the strong and vocal support of the people of the 42nd District, and from people across the state who recognize Washington is strongest when government interferes the least. These proposals are a recipe for stagnation. Our economy today is strong. Let’s keep it that way.

The worst of the worst:

Proposals for high taxes

Our booming economy is generating record tax collections, nearly $5 billion more than the last time we wrote a budget. But Democratic leaders at the statehouse say it’s still not enough. The governor wants to spend $5 billion more, and is proposing steep taxes to cover the difference. His proposal, SB 5129, includes a 67 percent increase in taxes on service-related businesses and a new income tax on capital gains. While the impact on job creation is bad enough, the income tax proposal is particularly dangerous. It flouts the will of the people, who have voted nine times since 1934 to reject an income tax, most recently in 2010. Advocates say they’re targeting the rich who receive stock options, but they also would also be setting the state up for an income tax everyone would pay. Legislative Democrats are expected to advance a similar proposal shortly.

Driving up the cost of electricity

The Senate’s Democratic majority last week passed the governor’s proposal (SB 5116) to require Washington utilities to abandon fossil fuel usage by 2045. We’d have to get all of our power from dams or alternative sources of power, such as windpower. This costly mandate, borrowed from the state of California, is a poor fit for Washington. We’re already one of the cleanest states in the country, thanks to our abundant clean, cheap hydropower. Replacing the small portion of our power that comes from clean-burning natural gas would be prohibitively expensive, and nothing comes close to its reliability. We would be betting on new technologies that have yet to be developed. Say goodbye to Washington’s low-cost power – the state’s biggest competitive advantage would be eliminated. You can read more about it here.

Driving up the cost of motor fuel

A number of proposals this year aim to punish Washington motorists with higher fuel prices. But perhaps the most dangerous is SB 5980, a “title only” bill introduced this week by the Democratic chair of the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. The only clue to its content is the bill title, “an act relating to greenhouse gas emissions.” The remainder of the bill is left blank, meaning that the rest will be filled in later by amendments offered by the Senate majority. So we don’t know yet what the bill would do, nor do the people of Washington. But it is a good bet this will become the vehicle for a cap and trade program that will hammer Washington consumers with higher costs for gas and diesel.

An insult to hard-working farmers

Senate Bill 5693 would require the state’s dairy farmers and orchardists to report whether they employ slaves, keep workers shackled in economic servitude or engage in human trafficking. The proposal, of course, is an insult to this state’s hardworking agriculture sector, and it is an indication of the anti-agriculture attitudes that prevail in this state’s urban areas.

An assault on refinery contract workers

Senate Bill 5698 and House Bill 1817 would require most front-line workers at oil refineries to be union apprentices or journeymen. For the contract workers who are a significant portion of refinery employment, this bill would eliminate any ability they have to choose whether to join a union. This government interference in a private labor-relations matter also would set a dangerous precedent for other industries across the state. Honorable mention goes to another proposal that could affect employment at our local refineries. SB 5579 would block oil-by-rail shipments from the Midwest, by restricting permissible vapor pressure in tank cars. Unprocessed Bakken crude would not comply.

For more information on legislation in Olympia that is being driven by the national Green Manifesto, click here.

Attacking energy fallacies: During Senate debate on Gov. Inslee’s electricity proposal, Sen. Ericksen points out it will have no measurable effect on carbon while driving up electric bills statewide. To see video, click here.

A climate bill with no impact on climate: The governor’s energy plan explained

Last week it was my honor to appear on the John Carlson Show on KVI-AM to explain the impact of the governor’s electricity plan, SB 5116. It won’t affect climate — it won’t increase snowpacks, reduce droughts, prevent forest fires or improve the lives of polar bears. But it will increase electric bills, set the stage for brownouts and fulfill political slogans that run bumpersticker-deep. To listen to this interview, click here.

Recommended reading

Washington Ag Network: Warnick: Slavery bill an attack on Washington ag

Yakima Herald-Republic (editorial) – Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices

Larry Freshler in Spokesman-Review: Flexible schedules are vital to hospitality industry

Spokesman-Review: Public schools in Washington would be required to teach sex education in all grades under bill approved by state Senate

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (editorial): It’s time to consider regionalizing the minimum wage


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Mail: P.O. Box 40442, Olympia, WA 98504