Lawmakers call for Inslee to veto pair of controversial bills
Tuesday is the final day for Gov. Inslee to act on bills passed this legislative session and he’s got a plate with everything from budget bills, to education to protecting immigrants.
Inslee is scheduled to act on several tax bills that passed during the 2019 session, including two that have led to bi-partisan calls for a either a veto or partial veto.
On Monday, nearly 40 lawmakers, including a handful of Democrats, sent a letter to the governor, calling on him to veto a portion of SB 5997 that converts the exemption residents of the five states with no sales tax enjoy when they shop in Washington, to a remittance program. The bill only allows shoppers from those five states – including Idaho and Oregon – to file claims once a year.
Lawmakers who signed the letter warned Inslee that the change would cost significant business for those along the Idaho and Oregon borders. They go on to note that Washington retailers report 30 to 40 percent of their customers are Oregon residents.
The bi-partisan group also suggested the change could be bad for the environment, amid concerns that forcing resident and non-resident shoppers to travel further to shop would lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, a group of five lawmakers – four Republicans and Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet — also sent a veto request to Inslee for HB 2167. That bill essentially doubles the B&O tax on 22 of the world’s largest banks.
While all five lawmakers say they have various issues with the underlying policy, their primary concern is with how fast the bill was passed, and the apparent lack of transparency and ability for public input that came with that speed.
The bill was introduced as a “Title Only” bill, which is just what is sounds like: A bill with only a title and no text. It was meant to act as a place holder to conform with state law, requiring bills be filed 10 days before the end of session. The text of the bill wasn’t filled in until Friday, April 26, just two days before the end of session.
Lawmakers who signed the letter say the bill then zipped through the House, got rushed through a Senate Ways and Means committee, and cleared the Senate in under 48 hours, never going to the banking committees.
Before it narrowly passed the Senate – with three Democrats voting no largely due to the process it went through, Democratic supporters argued it was an idea that had been around the Legislature for years, and therefore was not the first time the senators were seeing such legislation.
Sen. Mullett – who chairs the Senate banking committee and signed the veto letter – adamantly disagreed.
“I will say as the chair for the last two years of our Senate banking committee, and as the ranking member vice chair of that committee for the previous five years, I can 100 percent guarantee to every person in this body that not at one point has this committee looked at this issue that was presented on Friday – out of the blue, from nowhere in any way shape or form,” Mullet said ahead of his hard “no” vote.
Asked last week whether Inlsee would sign the bill, his office responded with the following statement:
“The governor and staff are still reviewing the budget package. He has until Tuesday (21st) to act on all bills and budget items sent to him by the legislature.”
The bill action is set for Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.