United States

Property tax hike bill dead, but GOP lawmakers warn other tax increases remain

(The Center Square) – Republicans in the state Legislature are applauding Friday’s demise of Senate Bill 5770 that would have raised the property tax cap from 1% to 3%. But those same lawmakers caution that several bills that would increase taxes are still alive.

“There are many other bills from majority Democrats still moving through the Legislature that will hurt your budget and your family should they pass,” Rep Chris Corry, R-Yakima, said.

Corry told The Center Square the cost of housing, groceries and gas are all still on what he called “a dangerous trajectory.”

He was critical of House Bill 2049, the Washington Recycling and Packaging Act, that would change who pays for curbside recycling services through “extended producer responsibility programs.” That means companies supplying packaging and paper products would fund the statewide program, as opposed to residents.

“Starting with HB 2049, this is a new recycling regime that’s being placed on top of a system that is working relatively well,” Corry said. “It will really put a bunch of new production costs on a lot of our food suppliers, packing producers, and what that means for the end consumer is prices are going to go up.”

Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle, is the prime sponsor of HB 2049.

During a January public hearing on the bill, Berry told members of the House Environment & Energy Committee that environmental goals for Washington state have not been met.

“Washington is now 17th in the nation for recycling, and we’ve been in a steady decline since 2011 and we know there is something that needs to happen to change this,” she said.

She went on to say, “There are 11 counties in our state that have no curbside recycling. There is a patchwork system where if you’re in Olympia you might not accept glass, but if you’re not there, you may.”

SB 2049 would address this challenge, according to Berry.

“The solution before you is to create a producer responsible program in the state of Washington, where brands would come together to fund recycling systems,” she said. “The state of Washington has funded five to six studies to look at how we can improve our recycling systems in the state of Washington, and four other states including California have now passed producer responsibility programs, as well as Canada and much of Europe.”

A representative from Sunshine Disposal & Recycling testified against the bill, saying producers will simply embed the price of recycling into the price of products being recycled back to the consumer.

Corry said he is also worried about House Bill 1433 that would require a home energy score.

“A city and county would be able to adopt a code that says in order for you to sell your home, you have to get a home energy score report, which means you as the seller, and then as the buyer as part of your costs, would be forced to hire someone to do an energy audit,” Corry said.

He called it an “unnecessary burden to selling your home, and theoretically it could really impact the perceived value of the home.”

Democrats keep piling on added costs, according to Corry.

“These proposals by majority Democrats show how out of touch they are with what the average Washingtonian is dealing with,” he said. “For years, bad policies coming out of Olympia under the majority leadership have driven up the cost of everything in Washington. Add to that the impact of the pandemic and inflation, and we have seen people priced out of their homes, or forced to choose between feeding their families or putting gas in the car to get to work.”

HB 1433 passed the full House on a party-line vote last week.

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