10/13/21 | By Ruth Peterson | Lewis County Republicans at @360GOP~~
You have likely received your Voters Pamphlet by now. If you have opened it up, you will see some Advisory Votes – three of them. I have to admit to dreading this time of year. I spend a lot of time explaining how Advisory Votes work and what each related bill does. I will try to do that again here.
You need to understand upfront that Advisory Votes are not binding. They are just an opinion poll. Even if every person in the state voted “repealed,” there will be no change to the law. You are simply weighing in as a citizen as to whether you approve of what the legislature did or not. Some people merely go down the line and vote “repealed” on every one of them. As my Dad always says, his view is “starve the beast.” However, you might want to know what the bills do – sometimes your legislator votes yes on a tax bill, and you want to know why. Here’s this year’s crop of Advisory Votes.
The first is pretty straightforward. Advisory Vote #36 is regarding HB 1477, a bill that will add a tax on your telephone line – both landlines and cell phone lines. This tax will pay for a behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention line. This bill was opposed by most Republicans, not because the program was unworthy, but because they felt that this new program could very well be funded from existing revenue. There was no need to add another tax to our phone lines.
The second Advisory Vote is #37, which relates to SB 5096, the new Capital Gains Income Tax that the Democrat majority passed this year. This was another bill that was opposed by Republicans, both because they felt we could pay for the needs of the state with existing funds and because they fundamentally oppose instituting a new Income Tax. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will overturn this new Tax, but that remains to be seen.
The last Advisory Vote is a little harder to explain, but I will try. Advisory Vote #38 regarding SB 5315 involves Captive Insurance Companies. First, what is that? If a company is very large, like Amazon or Microsoft, they may actually create their own insurance company to cover losses, rather than buy a policy from elsewhere. They could possibly just take a huge chunk of money and put it in an account somewhere and use that to cover losses. However, by creating an insurance company, they can write off the premiums from their taxes. That way, they have money to cover losses and get a tax break. Win/win.
Here’s the tricky part. When you and I buy an insurance policy, whether it’s a homeowner policy or car insurance, we pay a 2% tax on the premiums. All of us do. The Insurance Commissioner worked with the huge companies who were creating these Captive Insurance Companies and negotiated this bill, so that they, would also pay the same tax on the premium that you and I do. The companies agreed to this because even with the 2% tax on the premiums, they still save money because it’s all a tax write-off.
That is why the vote was almost unanimous. There are times when a company will be able to benefit by a new way of doing something that involves a tax. Obviously, it would be my preference to make things fair by just getting rid of the 2% tax on all our policies, but that wasn’t an option. The majority would never have gone for that. The only option was to make the 2% tax even across the board – if we pay the tax, they should, as well.
I’m a Second Amendment supporter and this morning I saw a question posed to those of us are 2A supporters. Why are we always on defense when it comes to protecting our rights?!? (warning: long post, but if you want the important stuff, please read the last three paragraphs)
The 2A page I was on is a non-partisan page, and all we talk about is 2A rights. It’s a way to keep an eye on Olympia and communicate what is happening to those rights. We need a coordinated effort to stop bad bills from being passed. This is important stuff.
One person answered the question above with the idea that we need to work with sympathetic legislatures, and that is spot on. But we have to be doing that now. We have to be working to get sympathetic legislators elected in 2022 right now. The Democrats work to get out the vote non-stop. Literally non-stop. They have college kids combing the campuses right now to get people signed up to vote – they are training them about the evils of firearms. On the other side, we are very busy with families and jobs. Politics takes a back seat to what is important. I get that. I have 4 kids and 9 grandkids. I homeschooled my kids, so my involvement from politics didn’t really happen until I was in my 40s. I will raise my hand as a person who put politics in the backseat of life. But meantime, the state became bluer and bluer – now we have a yearly battle on our hands.
However, I also want to explain something about the Legislature that I hope will help you in the future as you try to persuade others in the election process and for you to think about in your own choices during an election.
Party matters. I had someone mention yesterday that all of this political stuff is just voting for the party. I objected, but as I thought about it, he was right. It’s all about the party. Why? Do you remember the legislative years of 2013 – about 2018? Do you remember that while people talked about bad bills, we didn’t have to do much fighting to keep them from being passed? I know it’s hard to remember back, but we had 5 years of a Legislature that stopped every bad gun bill from passing. Do you know why? Republicans had a 1 vote majority in the Senate. Were all those Republicans staunch 2A people? Not really. We probably had a handful that were more center than right. In fact, I know we did.
But here is the key point (if you take nothing away from this – please remember this one thing). The majority – even those with only a 1 vote majority – appoints Chairs to committees. Those Chairs have total power over what bills come out of committee. Because we had a 1-vote majority, Senator Padden was appointed Chair of Law & Justice. Every bill that was introduced that was harmful to the 2A was killed in his committee. All of them. Even if they passed the House, they went to his committee, and he flat-out just didn’t allow them out. So even though we had some Republican members who were less conservative and who I disagreed with often, having them there allowed the right ones to be in places of power to stop bad bills.
Even when there is a majority, if it is close, it’s still a struggle – we can stop bad bills, but only if we get one or two Democrats to vote with us (note here – Senator Sheldon (D) always votes with us on 2A bills). If we had a House and Senate that were close in numbers, we wouldn’t have the bad bills racing through the Legislature this year. But we don’t have close numbers this year. They can lose several members and still pass the bills. The next two sessions are going to be very, very hard. Whether it’s 2A, gas taxes, income tax, low carbon fuel standards, critical race theory, tying the hands of the police – you name it. Their large majority means they decide which bills come before the floor for a vote, and they have the votes to pass those bills.
What to do? You need to keep the pressure on them – they respond to the possibility of losing votes. But that also means we need to persuade others to add their voice. It is far more powerful for 6 people to write than it is for 1 person to write 6 times. You also need to start looking at who is running for office and get behind them. Start working to get people elected who will put Senator Padden back in charge of the Law & Justice Committee. We need Senator Wilson or Senator Braun in charge of the Ways & Means Committee, Senator Hawkins in charge in K12, etc. That is what is going to make a difference down the road.
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