Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2019 legislative session began Jan. 14, and it's been a whirlwind so far. Aside from committee meeting cancellations toward the beginning of the month due to the snowstorm, things have been moving along at a steady pace.
This year, the Legislature is scheduled to be in session for 105 days, and during that time, we're tasked with crafting new, two-year operating, capital and transportation budgets. When people talk about the budget, they're usually referring to the operating budget, which funds our state agency operations costs and other government functions. This is the largest budget and will be negotiated throughout the long session.
I serve as an assistant ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, which considers the operating budget, so I'll be a part of the negotiations this year. As the budget is hammered out, I'll be sure to keep you apprised of major developments.
As is tradition, the governor released his budget proposal in advance of the legislative session, and I'm gravely concerned by some of his proposals. His budget plan would increase spending by 22 percent, which is irresponsible and would bring our maintenance level to an unsustainable level. Most concerning are his calls for new and increased taxes that would total $3.7 billion in 2019-21, including:
- a new capital gains income tax;
- increasing the service business and occupation tax rate; and
- graduated real estate excise tax rates
We don't need tax increases.Our latest economic forecast has shown record revenue growth — plenty of money to fund our priorities. Economists warn we're due for another economic downturn. So, in times of extraordinary growth, we should be doing all we can to keep the good (economic) times rolling and siphon money into our rainy day fund, not add to your tax burden.
For those of you who don't know me, I'm Skyler Rude, your newest state representative in the 16th Legislative District. I serve in the seat recently vacated by Dayton Rep. Terry Nealey, who announced he would not seek re-election to his seat last spring.
Previous to my term as your state legislator, I worked as College Place Sen. Maureen Walsh's legislative assistant. During my time in that position, I had the opportunity to work on issues that directly affect residents of the 16th District and learn more about the legislative process. I've also previously worked as a personal property and casualty insurance agent and spent several years in telecommunications.
I invite you to learn more about me by visiting my website at RepresentativeSkylerRude.com.
Hair stylists, cosmetologists come out in droves to protest bills targeting independent contractors
An impressive group of more than 1,000 independent contractors, predominantly made up of hair stylists and cosmetologists, took to the Capitol a few weeks ago to protest two Democrat-sponsored bills that would prevent them from being self-employed.
Specifically, House Bill 1515 and Senate Bill 5326 would hinder the ability for hair stylists, cosmetologists, and others from being classified as independent contractors. This means they would be forced out of self-employment and wouldn't have the benefit of the flexible schedule that works best for them and their families.
Thankfully, their voices were heard and the sponsor of Senate Bill 5326 withdrew the bill from consideration. House Bill 1515 was recently amended and, now, would create a work group on employee classification. This doesn't mean that the work is done, though. If this bill passes and the work group forms, we'll still need the voices of all independent contractors and small business owners to be heard in order to avoid the same harmful provisions that were in the original bill.
My House Republican colleagues and I will continue to stand with independent contractors and anyone who wants to be self-employed. Your entrepreneurial spirit is vital to our economy and should not be diminished.
Should we regionalize Washington state's minimum wage rate?
Among the legislation I'm working on, I am drafting a proposal that would study regionalizing the state minimum wage rate.
Eastern Washington is very different from Western Washington, but too often the policies the Legislature adopts do not reflect the realities of different communities throughout our state. Perhaps our minimum wage rate should be no different.
I recently wrote about this in an op-ed. You can read it here.
What do you think? Should we explore regionalizing our state minimum wage? Let me know your thoughts here.
Staying in touch throughout session
With roughly 300 miles between Olympia and Walla Walla, I know it's not feasible for everyone to come visit the Capitol during the legislative session. That being said, there are number of ways you can stay in touch with me throughout the next few months:
Call (360) 786-7828 (Toll-free at (800) 562-6000)
Send a letter to:
Representative Skyler Rude
122G Legislative Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
Visit my website at RepresentativeSkylerRude.com
And if you do plan to make the drive or flight, be sure to schedule some time for us to meet through my legislative assistant, Conor. He can be reached at the number listed above.
Thank you for reading. It's an honor to serve as your state representative!