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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you have been able to enjoy your summer and had a great Independence Day last week. It is a time to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our country. It also serves as a reminder that despite partisan politics or the conflicting interests amongst us, we are extremely fortunate and blessed to live in a country that values freedom and we have the ability to debate and discuss our differences.

Washington state – highest gas prices in the country

In many cases it is good to be number one, but not when it comes to leading the nation in gas prices. Thanks to cap-and-trade on top of other progressive taxes, Washington has had the dubious honor of having the highest gasoline prices in the nation the last few weeks.

As of Monday, Washingtonians were paying $4.96 for a gallon of gas, with California second at $4.87, followed by Hawaii at $4.69, and Oregon $4.62. We are $1.42 higher than the national average of $3.54.

There are many factors that impact gas prices.

The governor has pointed the finger at the profits of big oil companies.

There is also the gas tax rate in Washington, which is 49.4 cents per gallon, the third highest among states.

However, the biggest factor contributing to our outrageous gas prices is the Climate Commitment Act, the state’s cap-and-trade program, passed by the Democratic majority in 2021. According to a report by Affordable Fuel Washington, fuel prices have increased an additional 44 cents for gasoline and 54 cents for diesel fuel since the tax on CO2 emissions went into effect at the beginning of this year.

Last year Gov. Jay Inslee said the new state tax on CO2 emissions would have “minimal impact, if any” on the price of fuel. “Pennies. We are talking pennies,” he said.

The governor and the Department of Ecology missed the mark on that declaration. The gas prices are impacting everyone – especially those who are on a fixed income, those who travel a long distance for work, and farmers, who were supposed to be exempt from the new carbon law.

It is time to quit pointing fingers and address the flaws in this environmental policy and lower gas prices. Two state senators, Chris Gildon, R-Puyallup, and Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, are working on solutions.

I have signed on to the letter submitted by Sen. Gildon requesting changes to the cap-and-trade program. You can read that letter here.

Working to lower the gas prices in Washington state is not a partisan issue. The high cost of fuel is impacting each and every one of us. It is too early to tell if any of their proposals will gain any traction in the 2024 legislative session.

Groundbreaking of North-South freeway

I took part in the groundbreaking ceremony of the section of the North-South freeway that will span the Spokane River near Spokane Community College. Last session, we were able to secure funding in the transportation budget to put this project back on schedule instead of pushing it back six years to 2033-35, which is what the governor wanted to do.

This was accomplished due to the work of a bipartisan coalition of private and public sector community leaders and people in our area who publicly supported this important project.

It feels like we can almost see the end of the road after this project started more than two decades ago. The last phase of the project is scheduled to be finished in 2030.

Rep. Christian and dignitaries shovel dirt at the groundbreaking of the North Spokane corridor near the river crossing in Spokane.

Long-term care payroll tax takes effect

Your paycheck may be a little smaller this month. The WA Cares Fund, a new state-run, long-term care insurance program, kicked in on July 1, and started payroll deductions for many Washington workers, including part-time and temporary workers. Those in the program will pay up to 58 cents on every $100 of their earnings. That means someone making $50,000 per year will pay $24.17 monthly or $290 yearly.

How we got here: In 2019, the Long-Term Care Act, House Bill 1087, was passed by the Democratic majority in the Legislature. Republicans opposed the measure for several reasons.

It is inadequate. There is a limited lifetime benefit of up to $36,500. That will hardly cover health needs for the long term. There are also questions about solvency of the program and the possibility the Legislature may have to increase the payroll tax in the future.

It is unfair. It is a regressive tax that hurts those who can least afford to pay another tax. Plus, there is no guarantee they will get the benefits of the program. If you do not need the benefit, you forfeit all the money invested from your paycheck. Your spouse is not eligible for your benefit contributions. Finally, if you retire out of state, you lose your benefits.

It is unpopular. In the general election of November 2019 nearly 63% of Washington voters said the long-term care payroll tax should be repealed in Advisory Vote No. 20.

Solution: Republicans have opposed this flawed state program from the beginning. This session we introduced House Bill 1011, which I co-sponsored, to repeal the program.

There is now a plan to introduce legislation to make the program optional.

Click here to learn more about the WA Cares program.

Ride along with Spokane Valley police

I was able to get a firsthand look at what our local law enforcement officers are dealing with in the streets. I recently took part in a ride along with a Spokane Valley police officer. It was eye-opening and informative. It is critical we support our law enforcement officers and work to address staffing levels with the recent crime report that came out.

I appreciate the Spokane Valley Police Department for allowing me the opportunity to participate in the ride along.

Rep. Christian and Spokane Valley Police Officer J. Gallaher take a moment for a photo after the ride along.

Legislative resources

  • My legislative website | Find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
  • The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.   
  • The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
  • TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
  • The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
  • Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
  • State agencies | List of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
  • Participating in the process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process

Thank you!

Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. I work for you all year long and I encourage your feedback. I am here to serve you and everyone in the 4th Legislative District.

It’s an honor to serve you.


Leonard Christian

State Representative Leonard Christian, 4th Legislative District
representativeleonardchristian.com
122C Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
leonard.christian@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7984 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000