Rep. Joel McEntire issues statement on House Democrats ‘ghost’ or title-only transportation package bill

On March 28, House Democrats introduced the first “ghost” or title-only bill of the 2021 legislative session. It appears the legislation, House Bill 1564: Concerning transportation spending, will be the vehicle of their transportation package featuring an increase in gas tax and other fees.

Title-only bills are introduced with no content, amended later with the bill text and rushed through the legislative process, giving the public little opportunity to review or comment on the legislation.

Rep. Joel McEntire, R-Cathlamet, issued the following statement:

“I introduced House Bill 1324 at the beginning of the legislative session hoping the Legislature would eliminate the practice of legislators using title-only bills.

“As I worked to gain support from colleagues on my legislation to end ghost bills, I was greeted with the response that 'ghost bills aren't a big deal' and that 'the people of Washington don't care about ghost bills.' This was very disappointing, but now, the people have an opportunity to make their disapproval known. It is morally wrong for lawmakers to debate and pass bills without allowing the public adequate time to review and provide input on the issue.

“I am discouraged this practice is still being used, especially what I expect to be a massive transportation package in which the citizens of Washington will be asked to open their wallets. It is about transparency and accountability. This package is expected to include a substantial gas tax increase, a tax that would hurt our low-income and rural areas the hardest. Why are we hiding details?

“This bill was introduced on Sunday. We won't see the language until Wednesday afternoon, with a public hearing scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. Why the delay in seeing the actual bill language? We need to ensure our citizens have access and opportunity to provide input on legislation ahead of time. That also goes for the legislators who will be debating and voting on it.”

In 2019, a new tax on certain banks, House Bill 2167, was passed into law using title-only legislation and was ruled unconstitutional by a King County Superior Court judge. The state Supreme Court is scheduled for oral arguments on the case on May 25, 2021.

Current and entire text of House Bill 1564:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. Additive transportation funding is hereby adopted and, subject to the provisions set forth, the several amounts specified, or as much thereof as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes designated, are hereby appropriated from the several accounts and funds named to the designated state agencies and offices for employee compensation and other expenses, for capital projects, and for other specified purposes for the period ending June 30, 2023.
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Washington State House Republican Communications