OLYMPIA—Bipartisan legislation to encourage investments in rural Washington passed an important hurdle in the House of Representatives.
“This is about creating opportunity and jobs in timber and farm country,” said Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) about House Bill 1324, which creates state incentives for investment in newly created federal opportunity zones.
Chapman praised the work of Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic), a co-sponsor of the legislation, which recently was approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
It has now passed out of three committees, all with unanimous votes.
“This bill is very important as it allows investment into our rural communities and economies,” said Maycumber. “This is an innovative approach to investing in jobs and entrepreneurs. We’re giving our rural communities new tools and options to be successful.”
The legislation does three key things. First, it starts a program to develop rural and opportunity zone areas. Second, it creates a tax preference for taxpayers making capital contributions to a Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Fund. And lastly, it extends a reduced Business and Occupation Tax rate on certain timber-related activity.
According to witnesses testifying in favor of the legislation, rural and distressed parts of Washington state are struggling to get needed capital investments despite the state’s booming economy. No one testified against the measure.
“Rural economic development is a passion for me and something I’ve prioritized during my legislative career,” continued Maycumber. “I’m grateful Rep. Chapman agreed to work together on this issue. Rural economic development doesn’t have to be partisan, and I think we’ve shown that with this bill.”
The next step in the process is a vote by the full House of Representatives.
“This legislation is an important new tool in our toolbox to create jobs in small towns and counties in every corner of the state,” Chapman said. “I’m thrilled that we’ve worked together, as Democrats and Republicans, to craft this legislation and do what’s right, and smart, for all the families we represent.”