OLYMPIA – After arson fires destroyed two local institutions, Rep. Marko Liias wanted to do something to help these victims recover and rebuild. In November 2009, Mukilteo resident Emory Cole’s Everett-area restaurant was totally destroyed by an arsonist and less than a year later in October 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mukilteo was also ravaged by arson.
“It’s heartbreaking to see our neighbors go through the shock of arson, then have to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward,” said Liias, Edmonds. “The cost of repairing arson damage is staggering, and as a state, we can do something to support them.”
Liias has introduced a proposal that would rebate some of the sales tax paid for building materials used to repair arson damage. In many cases, insurance policies pay for the costs of rebuilding, but where insurance does not repay the full cost of rebuilding, the sales tax on these extra costs would be rebated back to the building owner.
“Arson is an attack on our whole community, and I don’t believe we should allow these attacks to cause permanent damage,” Liias said. “Exempting repairs from sales tax won’t fix everything, but I do think it would be a gesture by our community that victims of arson need help to rebuild.”
With a $4.6 billion shortfall in the coming two-year budget, most new legislation that will add to that shortfall is being stopped early in the process. Liias will continue working to see if members are open to the idea, and at the least, get state lawmakers to think about victims of arson and other ways they can be assisted.
The sales tax rebate bill is in the House Ways and Means committee awaiting a public hearing. Lawmakers are aiming to wrap up on April 24, the last scheduled day of the 2011 legislative session.