From the Washington Trucking Association: LEGISLATIVE FINAL REPORT UPDATE, CONFIDENTIAL
Attached, please find our final legislative report. We were able to keep most issues at bay this session, so it seems the legislature went fairly easy on us. However, there is much to make you aware of for the coming months leading up to the November elections.
On the ballot in November, you will see Initiative 732. This Initiative proposes to implement a tax on carbon starting at $15/metric ton in the first year (estimated $.13 to $.15 per gallon added to fuel cost), going to $25 the second year and adjusting each year thereafter. The tax would fund a state sales tax reduction, B&O tax credits for manufacturing and a low income tax credit for qualifying individuals. During the legislative session, it was revealed that between the tax rate reductions, low income rebates, and the cost to administer, the state would lose over $900 million before the end of 2021 if the Initiative is passed and implemented.
Add to this the Governors executive order to create a rule for a cap on GHG emissions. While the current plan is on hold, it will most certainly be back up and running soon. As we've stated before, while the plan identifies directly impacted businesses, mostly energy producers and manufacturers, we anticipate there will be a trickle down effect that will likely impact the trucking industry by way of increased fuel prices as added costs for compliance with the GHG Cap rule are passed down line.
Several other initiatives are coming down the pike, but are not yet qualified as ballot measures (not enough signatures). In particular, the few we know about today are I-1421; an Eyman initiative with the tag line "$30 means $30," which attempts to repeal several fees and MVET revenue generated from registration of passenger vehicles. And I-1454, which attempts to do several things including broadening the rules on how toll revenue can be spent and repeals the 11.9 cent fuel tax increase passed during the 2015 session. We are working on gathering information on these and other initiatives and assessing the likelihood they will become ballot issues. The filing/qualifying deadline for these and other initiatives is July 8th. Between now and then, there are likely to be other initiatives filed that we'll continue to keep an eye on.
Left to next legislative session is a "plan for a plan" to fix education funding. A big part of the "plan" will focus on fixing reliance on local levies to fund education. The issue, as it relates to the trucking industry, was the establishment of a study launched in 2008 to identify tax exemptions and their relevance in today's economy. We have been put on the defense in many ways since when the legislature considers funding issues and ways to close gaps in intended spending and revenue shortfalls. This is our concern as legislators wrangle with finding adequate funding to meet the Supreme Court mandate to amply fund education in Washington. Loss of tax exemptions not only hurts the trucking industry, it hurts businesses in general.
These are the biggest threats that we face as an industry. As far as opportunities coming up for us, the November elections will present an opportunity to not only vote for new leadership at the top, but a real opportunity exists for Republicans to continue the trend of annual seat gains in the House. Official filing for candidacy opens on May 16th and remains open through May 20th. In addition to the entire House, half of the Senate is up for reelection. In many cases, until we get through May 20th, it is unknown whether key candidates will have competition for their seats. We will keep our membership informed of developments and appreciate your feedback if you learn of folks running for office that we should be aware of.
If there is any time to be invested in an election, it is 2016 for Washington state. Your vote counts and can impact the issues we face in conducting our daily business. Important dates to remember, primary election is Tuesday August 2nd. General election is Tuesday, November 8th.
A few things we had an impact on during this past session...I-405 tolling/HOT lanes. We stated the detrimental impacts to the industry in time and additional operating costs while sitting in traffic on I-405 in the HOT lane zone during both a Senate and House Transportation hearing. We have our membership to thank for their feedback on the issue. While there are fixes in place and projects planned to mitigate the congestion in general purpose lanes, this has not provided much relief to the trucking industry. We will continue to deliver our message and voice our frustration on the issue. We supported HB 2884 to add leased vehicles to the incentive allowed for purchase (or lease) of alternative fueled vehicles. This is a good step forward in providing a market solution to climate change issues which will give those company's ready to invest in alternative trucking technology to do so with an added incentive. We also supported removal of defunct projects from the Freight Mobility Board's previously approved project funding list. This allows the funding to be freed up for use in viable freight impact projects. The Freight Mobility office reports there were projects on their list with committed funds going back to the inception of the Board in 1998.
Should you have any questions on the attached or the information above, please don't hesitate to contact me. Please keep on the lookout for our upcoming regional meeting schedule where all things policy and fiscal impact will be discussed.
VP Government Relations
(253) 569-8310 cell
(253) 838-1650 office