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Second carbon tax/fee legislation: brothers of the different father?

Jim Boldt, President of Duckabush Communications/Public Affairs, wrote the following commentary on Sens. Ericksen and Baumgartner’s recently announced carbon bill. 

This morning, in the Washington State Senate, two fairly conservative Republicans introduced a thirty-one page bill that is very similar to the recently filed carbon tax initiative.

On March 2nd, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, filed the initiative petition with the Secretary of State regarding a carbon tax and expenditures of the tax/fee. It took the Alliance about fifteen minutes to file the document after Democrat State Senators announced the carbon tax bill was dead for this session.

(By the way, lobbying rule number three, nothing is ever dead.)

Are these brothers of the different father?

Both proposals levy a carbon tax/fee on “emitters” and both proposals distribute the tax/fee money to natural resource programs, “healthy communities” programs, and qualifying utilities. The money will go toward various allowed programs to reduce carbon production or bring some “justice” to the implications of carbon taxes and fees.

Both proposals have oversight boards and panels concentrated with transparent actions (their words) to assure the money is spent for codified purposes.

Yes, they are very similar.

The question is why the Senate R bill? Senator Ericksen wrote in a response to questions that the bill is very similar to the initiative. When asked his intent or purpose he simply replied, “I think this concept needs a full and honest conversation.” Of course this implies the historic path and product of laws drafted on coffee tables and tavern counters where well intended folks craft a statute void of hearings, inclusive input, and of, our favorite word these days, “transparency.”

I have not done a detailed comparison. On first run through there are some differences about spending the fees/taxes, and the oversight body but they are very similar in intent and structure.