Dear Friends and Neighbors,
If you don't already know me, I am Luanne Van Werven, your Washington State Representative in the beautiful 42nd Legislative District. Our district includes North Bellingham, Acme, Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer, Everson, Ferndale, Glacier, Kendall, Lummi Island, Lynden, Maple Falls, Nooksack, Pt. Roberts, Sumas and rural Whatcom County. I am a fifth generation Whatcom County resident and the daughter of a Navy veteran and milk truck driver. It is an honor to serve you and I hope to keep you updated on what is happening during this legislative session.
The 2019 legislative session is already underway. I was recently sworn in for my third term. The opening ceremonies are always very humbling – surrounded by marble hallways and the awe of being on the floor of the state House of Representatives with 97 other individuals. All of us have one common goal – to make our districts and Washington state a better place to live, work, raise a family, and strengthen our communities. We may have different approaches on how to make that happen, but the common goal gives me hope for what we can accomplish this session.
For the next 15 weeks my calendar will be full of committee hearings, meeting with constituents and organizations, and working with fellow legislators, as we consider bills in committee and on the House floor. I had a great interim, as I was able to sit down with many folks to talk about issues affecting them and Whatcom County. Additionally, I went on several tours which included classrooms, factories and services to our most vulnerable population. It is amazing what you find out behind the scenes. Being connected to the community is essential to being an effective representative.
I will be serving on three committees this session. I will continue to serve on the House College and Workforce Development Committee, formerly the House Higher Education Committee. I am honored to serve as the ranking Republican on this committee, especially with the rich and diverse higher education opportunities we have in Whatcom County. As the ranking Republican I will be the lead voice for our caucus on the committee. I will work closely with the chair on the committee agenda and it puts me in position to be a strong voice for our students and colleges in Whatcom County.
It also allows me to continue my work on college affordability and accountability. I know that a four-year college degree is not for everyone. I want our kids to succeed whether they chose a four-year college or the trades. I am determined to connect them with successful careers.
In addition to the College and Workforce Development Committee, I will continue to serve on the House Transportation Committee, and I have a new committee this year – the Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee which considers issues relating to technology, digital communications, business financing, tourism, international trade and technology-driven jobs.
As a member of the Transportation Committee, I welcome the opportunity to be involved in shaping our district's transportation needs – traffic issues, fuel prices, car-tab fees and major infrastructure projects.
Governor's budget proposal
I am very concerned with the proposed spending plan coming out of the governor's office. Gov. Inslee's budget will increase spending more than 20 percent over the last two-year budget. How many of you are able to increase your family budget by 20 percent? The governor is proposing almost $4 billion dollars in new tax increases to pay for this huge increase in budget growth.
The governor is asking for:
- A capital gains tax – even though the IRS and every state in the union agree this is an income tax. This could target many people's retirement savings. Our district has rejected it by a wide margin each time it has been on the ballot. The people have spoken and the courts have spoken. It is unpopular, unstable and likely unconstitutional – and certainly not needed!
- a major increase in the state Business & Occupation tax – It would have a negative impact to our Main Street businesses.
- a change in the state's real estate excise tax. This will raise the prices on many home sales.
These tax proposals are not necessary. Budget writers are entering the next biennium with $4.2 billion in additional tax revenue.
I believe with the amount of dollars coming in from you, the hardworking taxpayers, the Legislature should find a way to return some of it, such as a property tax break or a sales tax reduction!
We will not see a proposed budget from the House for a couple of months, but I expect debate on the proposed taxes in the coming weeks.
While there are major disagreements on the budget, I would like to point out that most legislation is bipartisan. We are Washington state, not Washington, D.C. It is essential for us to work together for the benefit of our districts.
Following my work, and the Legislature
There are a number of ways you can stay in touch during the legislative session. Below are some links and websites to follow my work, as well as the Legislature. These links are good resources to stay involved in your state government.
- Capitol Buzz: A daily electronic clip service of House Republicans. Click here to subscribe.
- Check out my Website: www.representativeluannevanwerven.com. From this link, you can get more information about me, the bills I've sponsored and view my news releases as well as current and past email updates.
- Video updates – I periodically record a new legislative video update with the latest news from the Legislature or an issue I am working on. You can view my reports here on YouTube.
- Photos: Access my photo gallery here.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-Span, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live. You can also watch on your computer, smartphone or tablet: www.tvw.org
- Legislature's Website: You can get bill reports, track legislation, view committee agendas and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature at: www.leg.wa.gov.
You can also follow House Republicans on Facebook and on twitter: @WAHouseGOP.
While I'm in Olympia fulfilling my legislative duties, please feel free to contact me with any ideas or questions you have about the Legislature. I have an open door policy so I hope you will contact me. Your feedback guides the decisions I make here and it's important I know how state government is impacting you.
Luanne Van Werven