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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Dear Business Friends,

It is often said, “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Unfortunately, that seems especially true when it comes to those operating or managing a business in our state. That's why I am fighting hard in Olympia for our employers and business people, because our state's economic strength and family-wage jobs are carried on their shoulders.

Gov. Jay Inslee demands tax increases

Governor takes aim at business community with millions in new taxes
In December, Gov. Inslee proposed more than $5.3 billion in new and increased taxes, much of which would hit the business community the hardest. To put that in perspective, the state's current 2015-17 operating budget is just over $38 billion.

The governor's proposal includes:

  • B&O tax on service businesses: $2.3 billion.
    • Would raising the B&O service rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
  • Capital gains income tax: $821 million.
    • Would impose a 7.9 percent tax on income from sales of stocks, bonds, and other assets.
  • Carbon tax: $1.9 billion.
    •  A tax on the carbon content of fuel at $25 per ton, increasing at 3.5 percent per year, taking effect in fiscal year 2018.
  • Eliminate or reduce five tax preferences.  $300 million.
    • Limit the sales tax exemption on trade-ins to the first $10,000 of value.
    • Non-resident sales tax exemption changed to a remittance/refund program.
    • Eliminate sales tax on bottled water.
    • Repeal the use tax exemption on extracted fuel.
    • Eliminate the real estate excise tax exemption on foreclosure sales by lenders.

My Republican colleagues in both the House and Senate believe the governor is completely out of touch with reality in proposing these record tax increases, especially considering that the state is already anticipating nearly $3 billion in additional new revenue during the 2017-19 biennium. And that's without tax increases.

My philosophy is much like what Ronald Reagan said about government in 1981: “Make it work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”

These billions of new taxes would smother our state's economy and stifle opportunity. The governor will not be finding my support in this proposal.

Rep. John Koster

Business-related bills of interest
Here's a quick list of legislation to watch. As you can see, there are a number of bills advancing that could adversely affect businesses and employers. Click on the links for more information. You can submit your comments on the bill information pages. Look for the link that says, “Comment on this bill.”

GOOD BUSINESS BILLS

  • House Bill 1292 – Modifying theft of rental, leased, lease-purchased, or loaned property provisions. Public hearing held. Awaiting action in House Judiciary Committee.
  • House Bill 1447 – Addressing equal pay. Public hearing held. Awaiting action in House Labor and Workforce Committee.

BUSINESS BILLS WITH CONCERNS

  • House Bill 1047 – Protecting the public's health by creating a system for safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications. Public hearing held. Awaiting action in House Health Care and Wellness Committee.
  • House Bill 1117 – Addressing health care services balance billing. Public hearing held. Awaiting action in House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

BAD BUSINESS BILLS

  • House Bill 1300 – Simplifying and enforcing employee status under employment laws to ensure fairness to employers and employees and address the underground economy. Passed House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee. Referred to House Appropriations Committee.
  • House Bill 1302 – Providing damages for wage violations. Passed House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee. Referred to House Rules Committee.
  • House Bill 1439 – Regulating the institutions of higher education, including for-profit institutions and private vocational schools, to protect students from unfair business practices. Public hearing held. Awaiting action in House Education Committee.
  • House Bill 1486 – Creating the Washington wage recovery act. Passed House Labor and Workforce Committee. Referred to House Appropriations Committee.
  • House Bill 1506 – Addressing workplace practices to achieve gender pay equity. Passed House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee. Referred to House Appropriations Committee.
  • House Bill 1533 – Addressing wage and salary information. Passed House Labor and Workforce Standards Committee. Referred to House Rules Committee.
HireAVetLogo

Earn tax credits! Hire a vet!
Businesses that hire unemployed veterans for full-time employment positions (located in Washington state) may receive a credit against their Business and Occupation taxes or Public Utility Tax. Businesses can earn credits through June 30, 2022 and must claim all credits earned by June 20, 2023. There may also be some federal tax credits available to employers who hire veterans. You can get more information at YesVets.org.

Save the date! Telephone town hall, Feb 21 — 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Rep. Dan Kristiansen and I will be holding a telephone town hall on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. To join the community conversation, please call (425) 616-1855. Similar to a call-in radio show, the format allows you to ask questions, participate in poll questions, or just listen in throughout the hour. We hope you can join us!

I want to hear from you!
If you would like more information on the legislation discussed in this update or other topics of bills and state government, please contact my office. My contact information is below.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!

Sincerely,

John Koster

State Representative John Koster
39th Legislative District
RepresentativeJohnKoster.com
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
john.koster@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7816 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000