Amid a chorus of applause Wednesday, Sen. Jim Honeyford accepted the Washington State Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year award for an unprecedented third time. The Sunnyside Republican received the award previously in 2003 and again in 2007.
“It’s always an honor to receive an award, but I’m particularly humbled by this one,” said Honeyford. “Working on our states’ farm, ranch and agricultural issues is one of my highest priorities and it’s truly rewarding to be named legislator of the year by the Washington State Farm Bureau.” Continue reading →
After approving two tax-preference bills designed to bolster the state’s aerospace industry, longtime state Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Yakima, said he’s looking forward to continuing the trend of growing the state’s business community by offering tax incentives.
“The governor called us into a special session in order to pass two bills to keep Boeing in Washington, in exchange for retaining up to 56,000 jobs and creating tens of thousands of new jobs across the state,” said Honeyford, who represents the state’s 15th Legislative District. “That’s not an opportunity that we can just sit on, but I’m concerned about the appearance of the state playing favorites. Now that it’s been widely accepted that certain tax incentives can grow businesses in Washington and in turn provide jobs, I’m going to pursue expanding that policy to other areas beyond aerospace, such as agriculture and small businesses, and I already have a commitment from Boeing that it will help us work to expand these policies.” Continue reading →
On Tuesday, the Washington State Legislature adjourned Sine Die (it’s Latin for “without a day” and pronounced “SIGH-nee-DYE”) for the second time this year. Yesterday, we began the second special session of 2013 – our third session of the year – with only one priority: pass a state budget.
While I’d like to say that both sides are working collaboratively to reach a common ground, the fact is the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus has already passed two bipartisan compromise budgets and Democrats in the House of Representatives are simply refusing to back away from their wish list of new and increased taxes. This, despite the fact that the state is projected to receive over two billion dollars in new revenue for the upcoming 2013-15 biennium (two-year budget cycle). Continue reading →
The special session has kicked into a higher gear as we approach June 11th, the 30th and final day of the special session under Washington’s constitution. Earlier this week the governor voiced how he likely would call a second special session to begin immediately if Tuesday comes and goes without a budget agreement. Perhaps that spurred majority leadership in the House of Representatives to finally get serious about budget negotiations, because on Wednesday they offered a new spending proposal.
The good news is that the House proposal scaled back its original tax plan, as well as the overall level of spending from the budget proposal it approved April 12. The bad news is that the vast majority of those spending reductions are tied to education, meaning that the House’s new approach would harm our state’s students and schools.
I remains focused on working collaborativly to find agreement on not only an operating and capital budget, but also the associated reform bills. My hope is that we will soon vote on a final budget that holds the line on taxes, gives K-12 and higher education the boost they deserve and ensures state government will be more accountable, transparent and efficient. As negotiations continue, I expect things to develop quickly. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, the House released a new $33.7 billion spending proposal…a sign that they are finally taking budget negotiations seriously. The proposal released this week represents an improvement over the original House budget but while the lower level of spending is welcome, it’s unconscionable that more than 75 percent of the reductions would come from education. Education should get our first dollars, not our last dime.
In all, the House budget rewrite would put $217 million less towards education than the bipartisan plan the Senate approved during the regular session. Much of the education spending in the new House proposal is based on higher taxes, fund shifts from other accounts or pushing appropriations into the next budget cycle. Continue reading →
On April 19 the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bare-bones, no-new-taxes transportation budget for 2013-15. Three days later the House Transportation Committee adopted a separate bill that would impose a 10-cent hike in the state portion of the gas tax over three years, and create or increase an array of other transportation-related fees.
The no-new-taxes nature of the transportation budget didn’t change as it sailed through the Senate (with a 46-1 vote) and the House (vote: 72-25) and on to the governor, who signed it May 20. Although the governor is still cheerleading for more transportation revenue, at least publicly, the reality is this: The Legislature can adjourn for the year without another word about transportation because we already have a new transportation budget in place.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed two bills Tuesday that will benefit businesses in Washington and hopefully put more people to work. Senate Bills 5056 and 5770, both sponsored by 15th District Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, make it easier for businesses to hire minors and reduce the clerical burdens of small conservation districts.
“Employers shared with us when they came to testify in support of these measures that they have to fill out an entirely new master business-license application just to hire young people,” said Honeyford, the top Republican on the Senate’s rural economic-development committee. “This bill pares the required information to only what is essential, thereby allowing businesses to create more opportunities for young people to find work and develop lifelong employment skills.” Continue reading →
Power rates in Washington could come down once Senate Bill 5400 becomes law. The measure – sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside – deals with the costly provisions of the 2006 voter-approved Energy Independence Act, also known as Initiative 937. SB 5400 would help power companies with out-of-state customers find other renewable energy resources in order to meet yearly conservation requirements.
“This bill allows PacifiCorp, a multi-state utility that has a service territory larger than the Bonneville Power Administration, to count the wind power produced in eastern Wyoming toward its renewable standard,” Honeyford said. “Right now, the geographic boundary to be able to count renewable is right down the middle of Wyoming; this bill modifies that so SB 5400 can keep the power rates more affordable in eastern Washington and aid low-income families as well as the agricultural industry.” Continue reading →
We’ve passed the middle of the 2013 legislative session, and at this point the most significant deadline was reached on March 13. Known as “floor cutoff,” it was the last day most bills could be considered by their body of origin. In other words, all Senate bills considered not necessary to implement the budget had to be passed by the Senate and vice-versa in the House of Representatives.
Under Majority Coalition Caucus leadership, this year the Senate has been more productive than any other time in the past four years. We passed 276 bills over to the House, many of which were sponsored by members of the minority caucus. We’ve set the bar high for passing the most bills sponsored by members of the minority in recent history, holding true to the Majority’s stated goals of true bipartisanship. Continue reading →
I am pleased to report the Senate passed 11 of my bills and sent them to the House of Representatives for consideration. Currently, 10 of my 11 bills have public hearings scheduled in various House Committees.
The most important bill I sponsored this year is Senate Bill 5445 that provides $445m in grants for school construction and safety upgrades. After passing unanimously off the Senate floor to the House, it remains in the House Capital Budget Committee. Continue reading →