Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Today in Television for Insomniacs

At 8 am this morning the Washington State House Committee on Finance had a meeting to take testimony and vote on bills, including HB 2912 and HB 3027.

The meeting was early enough for Rep. Ross Hunter, the Committee Chair, to quip that the online broadcast was more suited for "insomniacs".
It is also possible that by me watching the online TVW.org broadcast the number of viewers increased by 1/3.

Part 1:

Part 2:

OK, it is a bit sleep inducing.

HB 2912 is: Modifying local excise taxes in counties that have pledged lodging tax revenues for the payment of bonds prior to June 26, 1975.

Those are King County stadium taxes, a mix of stadium parking, hotel, and car rental, taxes. Yakima also applies one of the many taxes involved. Amendments to the original bill cut out funding for stadiums, arenas, Safeco Field upkeep, and tagged an extra dollar on each ticket sold at a professional football, baseball, or soccer game (welcome to big-league sports, Sounders).
That is not going to survive the senate.

HB 3027 is: Regarding the governance and financing of the Washington state convention and trade center.

This is a hotel tax applied in Seattle, on top of all the other taxes. The intent of this tax is to fund the Washington State Convention Center. The hoteliers benefit from having a convention center, the convention center benefits from the taxes on the hotels, and both benefit by being in Seattle. That last point is sometimes lost in the discussion.
There is 2% state sales tax credit, the total tax revenue is 7%.

This bill, in its current form, would have the state take back the 2% sales tax credit that the convention center uses in its current funding structure. That taking back, un-sharing, could result in the hoteliers taking the State to court. That tax was created for a particular reason, and the state constitution is pretty clear about creating special funds with specific taxes and not allowing the state to raid them (again).

I am sure a deal can be worked out to get the tax credit back to the state, and allow the hoteliers to keep taxing themselves to pay for a convention center expantion. I do remember, I think, Ross Hunter saying last year that there was not enough money to slice off 1% to pay for a KeyArena remodel AND allow the state to take back 1% of the state sales tax credit.

Sooooooo, you, Ross Hunter, may have provided evidence for the hoteliers that they could use against the state in a court of law.
Just sayin'.

Anyway, I am sure things will all work out in the end, or on the House Floor, or in the Senate Ways and Means Committee (maybe Mr. Hunter can testify in favor of the substitute senate bill again), or maybe it can be fixed on the Senate floor.

This does appear unusually difficult right now, but at least the bills have been passed out of the House Committee.

Why were these bills passed with these amendments Mr. Hunter?
From: "Hunter, Rep. Ross"
Date: February 9, 2010 5:13:51 PM PST
To: Mr Baker
Subject: RE: HB 2912 & HB 3027

The amendments were required to have the votes to move the bill out of committee. Without the amendments the bill would have died. I did not have the votes to hold the clause.

Rep. Ross Hunter
Finance Committee Chairman

Bellevue Office: (425) 453-3064 (until January)
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7936 (January - May)

Well hopefully this will get straightened out on the Senate side.

And thanks to all of you legislators for putting up with people like me, doing what you have to do when moving the ball forward.

Have an excellent day,
Mike Baker