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Posts tagged: Senate Ways and Means Committee

Spec Sess Day 19: Budget writers in the open

OLYMPIA — A rare public work day for the Senate's budget writers, who reportedly have been meeting privately — albeit unsuccessfully to this point — on a compromise for the state's 2013-15 operating budget.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee has a hearing this morning on an array of topics, including tougher laws for repeat offenders of driving under the influence, lower tuition at the state colleges and universities and a change in the state's estate tax law.

Most members of the Senate and House are elsewhere. The morning's Senate pro forma session lasted a few minutes longer than normal when Sen. David Frockt, D- Seattle, used a point of personal privilege for a call to redouble efforts so the Legislature can finish by June 11 and not need a second special session.

Along with the 30-day limit on the special session, the Legislature is also looking at an even bigger day on the calendar: July 1. That's when the state's new fiscal year starts, and it's unclear how the state would proceed with all services and salaries if it doesn't have a budget in place to provide the authority to continue them. 

Gun ranges pull for tax break on clay pigeons

OLYMPIA — Non-profit gun clubs want the Legislature to tell the state to stop double-taxing them for the targets that skeet shooters use.

 The club pays a sales tax when it buys the clay pigeons in bulk, and is required to charge target shooters another tax for each target used in a session. They're being taxed twice for the same clay pigeon, said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who proposed a bill to give non-profit clubsan exemption from the taxes.

Couldn't golfers make the same complaint about balls at the golf course, Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, asked.

Not the same thing, Rivers replied. Golfers take possession of the balls.Because of safety concerns, a range employee loads targets into the machine.  “The consumer never physically touches the clay pigeon.”

The clubs could raise their fees to cover the taxes, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, said. But that would hurt people on limited incomes, and amounts to raising rates to pay an unfair tax, club managers said.

Total cost to the state of granting the tax exemption is estimated at $29,000, the Senate Ways and Means Committee staff said. 

Special Session Day 21: Senate in, House out

OLYMPIA — The Senate returns from its long weekend to a morning of caucusing, and possibly voting, although the schedule for bills probably won't be available until post-caucus.

Heavy lifting of the day might be done in the Ways and Means Committee, which has an afternoon hearing on fees for teacher certificates, proposed changes for quality education and consolidating natural resources agencies. They're also scheduled to vote on whether to send to the floor the latest plan on the state's liquor distribution system and some other government “streamlining.”

House is in pro forma, which is to say, they aren't around until Tuesday.

Special Session Day 9: Tax breaks assailed, defended

OLYMPIA – From frozen bull semen and chicken bedding to big banks’ mortgage profits, Senate Democrats took aim at the state’s system of tax breaks for businesses Wednesday.

They generated support from people who don’t want the Legislature to close the projected $5.1 billion gap in the state budget solely with cuts, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Association of Retired Persons and the Our Economic Future Coalition.

They generated opposition from the business owners who said they need the various tax credits, exemptions and preferences to stay afloat, including the state Retailers Association, Farm Bureau and Association for Washington Business.

And sometimes, the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing generated chuckles or applause from an overflow crowd as members tried to sort through three different bills on tax breaks…

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Special Session Day 9: Tax breaks in spotlight

OLYMPIA — Senate Ways and Means Committee may generate the most excitement of the special session to day, with a hearing on several proposals to change tax exemptions, thus bringing in more revenue and mitigating the need for as much as $5 billion in cuts to the 2011-13 budget.

Senate Democrats have several proposals for cutting back on tax preferences (substitute “loopholes” if you prefer), including a reduction in the break for investments, for some agricultural items like bull semen and bedding material for chickens, and a plan to remove the two-thirds majority for changing tax exemptions.

Progressive groups are likely to show up in large numbers in support. Tim Eyman has called for his troops to come to Olympia to protect the supermajority on taxes that they've won over the years at the ballot box.

Earlier in the day, the Senate was floor action on some bills necessary to make the budget work. They might also have a resolution honoring the troops involved in the mission that got Osama bin Laden.

WA Lege Day 54: Talking taxes

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats’ plans to raise taxes could move to the Senate floor over lunchtime.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee just began a hearing on a revised tax package that has some tweaks in the proposal released last week. Gone is the removal of the exemption for trade-in vehicles. But it still proposes raising the sales tax by three-tenths of a cent per dollar for the next three years. It does place a sales tax on bottled water.

It would raise about $805 million in new tax revenue.

Not included is the idea of offering voters to swap the sales tax increase, and another five-tenths of a cent, for an income tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year or couples making more than $400,000. That bill got a hearing Thursday, but is separate from the overall tax package.

Some Republicans on the committee are sporting lapel buttons with “A.B.R.” which they said stands for “Anything But Reform” — their complaint that the budget raises taxes but doesn’t reform underlying problems with the state’s general fund budget.

1:20 p.m. update: Republicans are running a series of amendments to take out individual tax changes, or put them to an advisory vote on the November ballot. All are failing on party-line vote.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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