Sunday, February 28, 2010

Three Bills that Help King County: SB 6051, HB 3027, SB 6424

Monday, 3/1/2010, in the House Finance Committee will vote in Executive Session SB 6051 (King County Hotel Taxes), HB 3027 (Seattle Hotel Taxes), and SB 6424 (County/City Excise Taxes).



HB 3027 - Regarding the governance and financing of the Washington state convention and trade center.
ESSB 6051 - Concerning lodging taxes.
ESSB 6424 - Concerning local excise tax authorities for counties and cities.

All three of these bills could really help King County, and Seattle.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Washington State Legislature Under Reported Story HB 3027, Washington State Convention Center

Friday morning the Washington State House Finance Committed will vote to pass HB 3027 in executive session, it will pass, it is unlikely to be amended at this point. It will likely get to the House Floor and passed with little or no debate.

Why?
Because the state needs to take back its 2% tax credit, and wants to again take money from the Tax collected on hotels in Seattle to help balance the state budget. At issue here is the structure of the current law; Seattle hotels with more than 60 rooms charge 5% tax on top of the near 10% sales tax (yes, that is 10 AND 5% sales tax). The state credits the fund this tax goes into with a 2% tax credit, so, 7% feeds the fund.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

HB 2912, Refered to Senate Ways and Means Committee

HB 2912 a bill for "Modifying local excise taxes in counties that have pledged lodging tax revenues for the payment of bonds prior to June 26, 1975." passed the House side of the Washington State Legislature on February 16, 2010.
On February 18, 2010, the bill was referred in the Senate to the Way and Means Committee.

Here is the message I sent yesterday to Washington State Senator Ed Murray:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Worlds Collide: Two King County Hotel Tax Bills Passed

On Monday the Washington State Senate passed SB 6051

The Senate passed a pretty vague bill.

The House Bill, HB 2912, passed the House today.

There has been some progress. The Senate went first, the House went second. Does either side want to tinker with the other side's bill? They kind of have to agree. The Senate bill is missing Workforce Housing.

Let's see where this goes.

This has gone pretty far, I am ok with the House bill so far.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SB 6051 Passed in the Washington State Senate

Today the Washington State Senate passed SB 6051
"Removing an expiration date applicable to heritage and arts program funding."
Third reading, passed; yeas, 28; nays, 19; absent, 0; excused, 2. (View Roll Calls)
.

The Senate passed a pretty vague bill. The House Bill, HB 2912, is still on the House Floor Report. It is getting amendments to clean up some language, and let some rental cars off of the sales tax that are rented during service and repair of other vehicles ( think loaner).

There has been some progress. The Senate went first.

Thank you Ed Murray!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Solution to the Non-Partisan Empty Seat: SB 6688

Last Fall Dow Constantine was elected to fill the vacated position of King County Executive. The position he left was that of King County Councilmember. Both positions are non-partisan. Both positions required the county council to fill the position.

For The interim position of County Executive, before Constantine was elected, while he was still a councilmember, the council had a majority of Democrats. They were able to fill the executive position with a Democrat.

When Constantine was elected to be the executive he vacated his council position. The council was split, 4 Democrats to 4 Republicans, and struggled to agree on who should fill the council vacancy.

The executive and council positions are officially non-partisan. In a partisan position the party officials nominate 3 people to select from, in a non-partisan position there isn't an official connection to the elected position.
What to do (other than revert back to positions)?

Winding its way through the Washington State Legislature is SB 6688: Concerning filling vacancies in nonpartisan elective office.

This bill passed the Senate on February 10th. It is due for a Hearing on the House side on February 19th is Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs at 1:30 PM.

The essential change in the law will be that a "non-partisan" executive, or a "non-partisan" commissioner, will nominate 3 people to be picked from by the council. If a person is not selected within 30 days from the date of the vacancy then the partisan governor must a select someone within 15 days.
So, 45 days could laps before somebody fills an empty and non-partisan King County Council position, filled by a partisan officeholder.

Brilliant!

I am not sure how a partisan can appoint somebody to a non-partisan seat. I would not be shocked to see this logic tested in court.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Washington State Senate Retry SB 6116?

As the Washington State Legislature churns through the shorter 100-day session I find something to follow that interests me. This session, as with last session, I follow arts, heritage, community culture infrastructure funding. These things find a variety of sources, including general funds from King County, and the City of Seattle. Those funds are drying up, with the money going away from society wants and on to needs. So, finding appropriate sources to support these other things is always difficult to find.

I am hoping, expecting, that funding for Seattle Center's KeyArena would come from part of that hotel tax collected in Seattle, so that facility would take the big step in revitilization of Seattle Center, and the Century21 Master Plan.

Last year I followed HB 2252 through the House Finance Committee, through the House Floor vote, over to the Senate Ways and Means Committee where it was substituted by SB 6116. Another version of SB 6116 that made it pretty far, but without much attention was SB 6051. SB 6051 did not get as far as SB 6116, neither passed the Senate Floor.

SB 6116 was the closest, still on the Floor near the end of the evening on the last day of the session last year. There was a lot of pressure put on State Senator Ed Murray (sorry about that). Mr. Murray worked very hard on this bill, but he ran out of time.

This year is not unlike last year. HB 2912 has passed the House Finance Committee, it is currently waiting for House Floor vote. On the Senate side there was SB 6661 that was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, but it has not been accepted. Although that bill is stuck in limbo a bill from last year, SB 6051 was held and the re-introduced to the Senate Floor. For the most part I have been expecting both HB 2912 and SB 6051 to pass, and then reconciled.

Tonight I look at the Senate Floor Report and see SB 6116 listed again. What!!!

I was wondering in my last thread (see the comments) if we could just cut to the chase and have SB 6116 go to the floor. Well, great minds, lucky guess, whatever, there it is.

What does that mean?
I don't know.

You have my full support Ed Murray.

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
Hunter.ross@leg.wa.gov

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
Insomniac

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuesday Morning at 8 O'clock There Will Be Some Action

[edited 2/6/2010 - SB 6684 is the companion to HB 3027]
Tuesday morning the House Finance Committee will have two bills of interest to vote on in Executive Session. The Safeco Stadium taxes, and the Seattle Hotel tax bills will get a vote, same day, same committee meeting.

These bills would then have to go to the floor for a full House vote.
If the House hotel tax is the same substitute bill, SB 6684 [ed], in the Senate Ways and Means Commttee then there is a dual path, and this house bill will not have to go through the Senate.
The same could be said for HB 2912, though it's partner SB 6661 was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committed. The bill has yet to show up in it's Electronic Bill Book.

Many of these taxes push control to the local level. A few give shortterm taxing authority and the local control of extending longer.

Finance* -  02/09/10  8:00 am
Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA
REVISED 2/5/2010 4:05 PM
Public Hearing:  
HB 2756 - Allowing medicare supplement insurance premiums to be deducted from the calculation of disposable income for the purpose of qualifying for senior property tax programs.
HB 2903 - Concerning benefit charges for regional fire protection service authorities. (If measure is referred to committee.)
HB 2990 - Addressing alternative city assumption and tax authority provisions pertaining to water-sewer districts.
HB 3172 - Concerning the taxation of lodging.
HB 3179 - Revising local excise tax provisions for counties and cities. (If measure is referred to committee.)
Executive Session:  
HB 2402 - Concerning a property tax exemption for property owned by a nonprofit organization and used for the purpose of a farmers market.
HB 2439 - Exempting church property used by a nonprofit organization conducting activities related to a farmers market from property taxation.
HB 2472 - Regarding the sea urchin and sea cucumber license limitation programs.
HB 2537 - Concerning incentives for solar energy systems.
HB 2567 - Concerning the excise taxation of publicly owned facilities accredited by the association of zoos and aquariums.
HB 2672 - Concerning tax relief for aluminum smelters.
HB 2756 - Allowing medicare supplement insurance premiums to be deducted from the calculation of disposable income for the purpose of qualifying for senior property tax programs.
HB 2903 - Concerning benefit charges for regional fire protection service authorities. (If measure is referred to committee.)
HB 2912
- Modifying local excise taxes in counties that have pledged lodging tax revenues for the payment of bonds prior to June 26, 1975.
HB 2933 - Modifying sales and use tax provisions for the local infrastructure financing tool program.
HB 2984 - Concerning a sales and use tax deferral for performing arts centers.
HB 2990 - Addressing alternative city assumption and tax authority provisions pertaining to water-sewer districts.
HB 3027
- Regarding the governance and financing of the Washington state convention and trade center.
HB 3092 - Allowing the department of revenue to issue a notice of lien to secure payment of delinquent excise taxes in lieu of a warrant.
HB 3172 - Concerning the taxation of lodging.
HB 3179 - Revising local excise tax provisions for counties and cities. (If measure is referred to committee.)
HB 3127 - Concerning the business and occupation taxation of newspaper-labeled supplements.
HB 3147 - Concerning sales and use tax exemptions for certain equipment and infrastructure contained in data centers.


There are 5 bills that they will take testimony on, and 18 they will vote on in Executive Session. 23 "actions" will be taken in this one meeting (one bill has testimony and a vote). These meetings are often 2 hours long.

It will be like an auction.

In the words of boxing referee Mills Lane, "let's get in on".

[edit 2/6/2010 - in Testimony to the Senate Ways & Means Committee representitives of the hoteliers said, testifying against SB 6118, that the state taking back the 2% salestax credit and then allowing Seattle the authority to add the 2% sales tax on top of the 6+% currently charged would put the fund that maintains the Convention Center at risk, and add more cost on top of very high sales taxes. They urged the committee to not pass SB 6118, as there were negotiations going on with the state to resolve the issue. Hopefully the state will not end up in court.]

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