King holds key positions on transportation, labor panels as 2019 session begins

Sen. King in Transportation Committee.

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, has been chosen by his caucus to serve in a key role on two Senate committees as the 2019 legislative session begins today.

King returns as ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, a position he held last year after serving as the committee’s chair from 2015 to 2017. He said the top priority in the Transportation Committee this session will be developing a new two-year state transportation budget.

“The committee chair, Senator Hobbs, is promoting a new transportation package that includes a new carbon fuels tax, something I can’t support,” said King. “We’ll have to try to work through that.”

King plans to introduce a proposal to move sales-tax revenue generated by automobile sales from the state general fund into the state transportation budget.

“It makes more sense to put tax revenue from sales of cars and trucks into transportation instead of the general fund,” said King, noting that such a sales-tax transfer could mean up to $2 billion over a period of four biennial budgets (eight years). “I know this proposal will be a tough sell, but if we invest that money properly in transportation, the amount of taxes that would come back into the general fund would greatly help to offset that loss.”

King also has been selected by his caucus as ranking Republican on the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. He said he is working hard on a bill to revise the prevailing-wage bill passed by the Legislature last year.

“I feel like the new prevailing-wage law was interpreted and implemented incorrectly by the Department of Labor and Industries, so we’re going to work diligently to see if we can get that changed,” said King.

It is rare that a senator is selected to be the ranking member on two Senate committees.

“I am extremely honored and pleased that my caucus had such confidence in me,” said King.

King also serves on the Senate Rules Committee, which selects which bills reach the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate after they have been approved by Senate policy or budget committees.

The 2019 legislative session lasts 105 days and is scheduled to end April 28.