Rep. Mark Klicker: Government should not write legislation that kills jobs

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How would you feel if the government told you your entire industry was now obsolete, and your job had been terminated?

That's exactly what a new bill from House Democrats would do if it becomes law. House Bill 1084, which has already passed out of the House Environment and Energy Committee, would wipe out the natural gas industry in our state, eliminate thousands of jobs, and hurt Washington families.

On the surface, House Bill 1084 looks like another effort to reduce fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emissions and improve our environment. However, when you dig a little deeper, you'll see that proponents of this bill knew it would kill jobs.

To offset that, in its original form, House Bill 1084 would have also created a new tax on your energy bill to fund retraining programs for workers in the natural gas industry whose jobs it would eliminate.

So, to sum things up, the original bill wanted to eliminate jobs at a time when we need more jobs, and it would've added an additional tax to people who are already struggling to pay their bills. That's bad policy, no matter how you spin it. Thankfully, a committee amendment removed the tax.

The original bill would've also prohibited the use of natural gas in newly constructed homes and buildings, including for space heating, furnaces, water heaters, interior gas fireplaces and even back deck grills. An amendment removed that prohibition, as well. However, the bill still takes major steps to accelerate the removal of natural gas from homes and buildings and would undermine the continued economic viability of natural gas utilities.

This legislation is a bad idea, period. Given our current economic circumstances, it couldn't come at a worse time. We're trying to rebuild our economy and get Washingtonians back on their feet. The government should be working to create jobs, not take jobs.

Prohibiting the use of natural gas in homes and buildings would have devastating consequences not just for workers, but also for the one million natural gas customers in Washington who would see an average increase of $700 in their annual energy bill.

House Bill 1084 is costly, not just for employers and employees, but for families who are struggling every month to make ends meet. And this bill goes beyond the natural gas industry.

Homebuilders, Realtors, the trucking association, heating and air conditioning contractors, plumbers and pipefitters, heavy equipment operators, and trade workers are among those who oppose the bill.

In addition, the impact on the electrical grid and power supply cannot be ignored. This legislation would negatively affect the energy stability and reliability in our region and the diversity of our energy portfolio across the state.

This is not well-thought out legislation. The government should not be putting people out of work and at risk when natural gas can be used as an alternative fuel source.

I believe this is an obvious abuse of government power that will hurt thousands of people in the natural gas industry, as well as upwards of a million Washingtonians who rely on this energy resource every day.

I strongly oppose House Bill 1084. It takes away choice from people, it takes away money, and it takes away jobs. We need to stop to any bill that would kill jobs and wipe out an entire industry. Let's create jobs, not take jobs.

As printed in the Dayton Chronicle and the Prosser Record-Bulletin

State Representative Mark Klicker, 16th Legislative District
representativemarkklicker.com
410 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mark.klicker@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000