SENATE BILL REPORT
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
As of January 31, 2019
Title: An act relating to increasing the maximum tax rate for the voter-approved local sales and use tax for emergency communication systems and facilities.
Brief Description: Increasing the maximum tax rate for the voter-approved local sales and use tax for emergency communication systems and facilities.
Sponsors: Senator Hunt.
Committee Activity: Local Government: 1/31/19.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Staff: Bonnie Kim (786-7316)
Background: A county legislative authority may, after voter approval, impose a sales and use tax for emergency communication systems and facilities. The tax rate is 0.1 percent of the selling price in the case of sales tax, or value of the article used, in the case of a use tax.
Monies received from this sales and use tax may be used solely for the purpose of providing funds for costs associated with financing, design, acquisition, construction, equipping, operating, maintaining, remodeling, repairing, reequipping, and improving emergency communication systems and facilities.
Summary of Bill: The tax rate for a sales and use tax for emergency communication systems and facilities is increased from 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent of the selling price in the case of sales tax, or value of the article used, in the case of a use tax. However, any county already imposing the tax must submit an authorizing proposition to the voters before it may increase the tax rate.
Fiscal Note: Available.
Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.
Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony: PRO: This bill was requested by fire chiefs following the Amtrak crash on I-5. Communication between our emergency personnel became difficult because they were operating on different systems. This bill would allow the first responders to fund upgrades to their communications systems. This bill will give us the flexibility to upgrade our systems as we face rising infrastructure costs. 911 communication centers are completely dependent on telephone excise tax, user agency fees, and the sales and use tax addressed in this bill. These funds are insufficient to cover major capital expenses. Our communication infrastructure is weak and needs to be replaced. We appreciate that this sales tax increase is subject to voter approval. This gives our community and voters another option to fund 911 operations. The current tax funds operations but leaves no room for improvements. It will cost Thurston County approximately $30 million to upgrade its emergency communication systems.
Persons Testifying: PRO: Senator Sam Hunt, Prime Sponsor; Steve Brooks, Legislative Chair, Washington Fire Chiefs; Greg Wright, Fire Chief, Olympia Fire Department; Keith Flewelling, Thurston 911 Communications; Judy Wilson, Thurston 911 Communication; Steve Rogers, Kitsap 911 Communications; Vickie Raines, Grays Harbor County Commissioner.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: No one.