Together, we often find better ideas and solutions than we can alone, and that is certainly the case in the Legislature. I want to thank you for your feedback, and encourage you to stay in touch.
Let me know what you think
Talking to members of the community is one of the best ways for me to better serve you. If I don’t know your concerns and desires for our district, I can’t represent your priorities as well. On Saturday, March 16th, I would like to hear from you at one of a series of town hall meetings across our district.
Rep. Larry Seaquist and I are looking forward to meeting you in Bremerton, Port Orchard, Key Peninsula or Gig Harbor and encourage you to bring both questions and suggestions.
Investing in local economies
Earlier in the session, I was concerned that some wanted to divert revenue from local lodging taxes to purposes other than tourism promotion and investment. In Kitsap and Pierce counties, those revenues help local governments and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce promote our communities and draw in tourists. In today’s service-driven economy, reinvesting in the tourism and travel sector is a smart move.
Your feedback and input on this issue has helped improve legislation in Olympia. As we in the Senate have brought forward the thoughts and concerns of constituents, proposed changes to the lodging tax laws have advanced. New safeguards have been put in place that will ensure that this important source of revenue is used to promote tourism but not to fund the day-to-day operations of nonprofits or other organizations. By ensuring these revenues are used to create jobs and boost our economic activities, we’re investing in our own future.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge update
I continue to work hard to control the need for higher tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. For businesses, employees and families across our communities, toll increases are economically damaging.
I proposed Senate Bill 5592 to keep tolls down and am pleased to report that it was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee last week. All that remains is for the bill to be brought to the Senate floor for debate. The current version of the bill would limit the amount of toll revenue spent on bridge oversight and administration. In 2012, those costs amounted to 4 percent of the toll account. My bill would set a 2 percent limit on management costs and dedicate the savings to paying for the bridge.
Keeping tolls as low as possible is vital to our communities, and this bill addresses that need by reducing administrative costs and ensuring that as much of the toll revenue as possible goes to retiring the debt on the bridge. I look forward to championing this bill as it moves forward in the Senate.
Helping new businesses
As a member of the Senate Trade & Economic Development Committee, I’ve been able to consider many proposals to create jobs and boost businesses in Washington. One proposal we considered in committee would help new businesses in our state with a credit against the business and occupation tax, helping them to establish a sound financial footing. Small businesses with less than 25 employees would qualify for the credit for their first two years, while larger businesses would qualify for their first year.
Supporting small businesses is an excellent way to improve our economy. Nationally, two thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses. And we in Washington state are known around the world for our incredible entrepreneurship, whether it’s in revolutionizing the technology industry or working hard to get a local shop going.
Keeping the ferries running
The Washington State Ferry System is vital to our district. Despite its importance, however, the system faces the constant threat of service reductions due to the loss of a large portion of its funding.
Ferries are not a luxury item and are certainly more than a line item on a budget. They are a crucial part of everyday life for communities on the Puget Sound. We rely on them to get to and from work, to move merchandise, to travel to receive vital medical care. Ferries are a critical component of everyday life, not an extravagance to be curtailed when times are tough.
To prevent these devastating reductions, we have worked tirelessly to submit two proposals to the co-chairs of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Department of Transportation which will improve service, avoid reductions in service, and reduce overhead costs. These include a legislative review of ferry runs, fixing administrative overlap and inefficiencies, and a closer examination of administrative overhead.
Ferries are essential to our way of life in the 26th District and deserve creative solutions to find the best answers, not the easy answers.
As always, if you have an idea or a concern, send me an email or give me a phone call. I want to hear from you.
-Office of Sen. Nathan Schlicher