More on I-1631
After rigorous review of the facts and discussion, at both Executive Committee and Board levels, the Chamber has announced it will not support Initiative 1631, imposing a new carbon fee. While the Chamber supports the goal of Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction, we believe this can better be accomplished through incentives, rather than a new fee or additional regulations.
In performing due diligence on this ballot measure, Chamber members gave great weight to the following policy points.
- The Chamber previously considered, but ultimately opposed, Initiative 732 in 2016, a carbon tax proposal which was ultimately rejected by the voters.
- While I-732 would have imposed a carbon tax of $25 per ton, beginning in 2018, with a 3.5% annual escalator, it also included a hard cap of $100. I-1631 proposes an initial fee of $15 per ton beginning in 2020 and it contains an escalator of $2 per ton plus inflation, with a price freeze at $40 per ton (constant dollars) in 2035, only if the state’s statutory carbon emissions goals are reached.
- To offset the impact of the carbon tax, I-732 would have eliminated the B&O tax on manufacturing and provided a 1% reduction in the sales tax. I-1631 contains no similar across-the-board tax relief for business.
- The I-631 campaign claims to go after the most egregious corporate polluters but exempts so-called Energy Intensive Trade Exposed Businesses (EITE’s) in 23 categories. Examples of the latter include coal-fired power plants, pulp and paper mills and chemical manufacturers.
- Revenue collected under I-1631 would be allocated by a multi-tiered and non-elected board, without direct representation by legislators, small business owners or taxpayers.
- Oil refiners are not exempt, however, and the direct impact upon consumers is estimated to be 15 cents per gallon, beginning in 2019, rising to 40 cents per gallon by 2029 (Source: Everett Herald).
- If the Chamber wishes to have a direct impact upon carbon reduction, we can work directly with the Legislature and state Department of Ecology, regarding implementation of the US v. Volkswagen settlement, support continued electrification of the transportation sector and increased support for the multi-modal fund in the 2019-2021 biennial transportation budget.
Regardless as to the outcome of the vote on I-1631, the Bellevue Chamber will remain engaged with other business organizations and our elected officials to achieve measurable carbon reduction over the near and long term.
Autonomous Vehicle Work Group
While the operation of fully autonomous vehicles on local arterials may be years away, we believe the time is now for Bellevue to lead the in the development and testing of disruptive transportation technologies.
Chamber Chair-elect John Milbrath and Director of Government Relations Chris Johnson, along with City of Bellevue Transportation Partnership Manager Steve Marshall and ACES Eastside Project Manager Bruce Agnew all participate in the WA State Autonomous Vehicle Work Group.
To next meeting of the A/V Work Group Executive Committee is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 24th; find additional information here.
East King Chambers Coalition Draft Position Papers
As part of an annual tradition, the members of the East King County Chambers of Commerce Legislative are in the process of reviewing proposed 2019 policy positions. The following draft position papers have received updates:
- Economic Development
- PreK-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Growth Management
Come to Chamber Public Affairs on Thursday, October 11th at Noon for a discussion; your input will be considered by our Executive Committee and Board of Directors this month. Final versions of these papers will be adopted in November by all nine Coalition member chambers.