11.06.17

Pumpkins and House Plans

If you’re like my family, you might just be coming out of your Halloween-induced candy coma. The Kilmer pumpkins this year even changed themes.

As you can see, my kids’ obsession with Hamilton has been cemented (even if it is in the form of a giant, rotting fruit). Personally, I’m relieved that Star Wars jack-o-lanterns are still part of our tradition.

Halloween wasn’t the only exciting event in the past two weeks. Read on for the news!

Pushing for a Fairer Tax System

Here’s the good news: Democrats and Republicans agree that there are problems with our current tax code. In my view, the tax code is too complicated. More needs to be done to encourage investment in America rather than someplace else. Middle class families need a break. Personally, I’d love to see Congress move forward with a plan for reform that helps our local businesses grow and that provides a fairer approach for the folks I represent.

Late last week in the U.S. House, the majority introduced their tax plan. Unfortunately, in its current form, it represents a massive missed opportunity.

Rather than making hard choices, it’s a plan that will explode the national debt by trillions of dollars, pushing the burden onto our kids and grandkids.

Rather than focusing on middle-class families, the vast majority of the bill’s tax cuts goes to the very wealthiest Americans who need it least. The bill eliminates the state and local tax deduction, medical and student loan expense deductions, and tax credits that help families adopting kids. As a consequence, according to nonpartisan analyses, a lot of middle-class families will face highertaxes under this proposal.

Rather than helping small businesses in our neck of the woods, it’s a plan that, according to small business groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses “leaves too many small businesses behind.”

Sadly, rather than pursuing a bipartisan approach, it was a plan cooked up behind closed doors with little input. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be pushing for a smarter, more responsible, more bipartisan approach. Stay tuned...

Advancing Our Region’s Priorities

We talk a lot about how Congress needs to get working again. I’m committed to making that happen, and I’ve tried to find opportunities to work with my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans. I’m excited to share some news on a few of my bills that are moving through the legislative process.

  • Fixing problems at the Veterans Administration

I recently wrote about a bill that I worked on with my colleague Dan Newhouse from Eastern Washington. Our bill pushes the VA to fix management issues that were identified in a report from the Government Accountability Office. Our bill is scheduled to be voted out of the House later today! 

  • Ensuring military veterans get the services they need

Earlier this year, I joined with my Republican colleague, Mike Coffman of Colorado, in authoring a bill to help military veterans get access to mental health services. Our bill would direct the VA to provide initial mental health assessments and urgent mental healthcare services to veterans at risk of suicide or harming others -- even if they have an “other-than-honorable” discharge. The idea for the bill first came up at a roundtable I held with local veterans in Tacoma, and is an amazing testament to the ability of folks in our community to help our government solve problems. The bill has been endorsed by multiple veterans’ groups, and I’m excited to report that it’s scheduled to be voted out of the House later this week. 

Beyond those bills, two of my bills were recently passed out of committee.

One is related to making government more accountable and a better partner in encouraging innovation. The OPEN Government Data Act is a bipartisan bill that would increase transparency and mandate the government provide specific data it collects on a publicly available, downloadable website. It would keep private the stuff that’s meant to be private, but would push government agencies to make public data public. The goal is to enable government agencies to use data to be more efficient and to empower small businesses to use data to develop new products and services. A little while back, the Seattle Times wrote about why this is a good idea. Check it out here. Key pieces of this legislation were included in a bill that just passed out of committee last week.

Another bill would expand hate crimes legislation to prevent religious community centers from being the target of violence and intimidation. I’m glad it got unanimous support out of the Judiciary Committee and is one key step closer to becoming a law. In recent years, too many religious community centers have locked down their facilities or had to call in bomb squads. No American should be fearful of being targeted because of the faith they follow. America should remain a beacon of tolerance.

You can read more about this process on my blog here.

A Better Plan for Our National Parks

Ken Burns rightly called our national parks “America’s best idea.” Growing up in Port Angeles, there wasn’t a summer where I didn’t have picnics up on Hurricane Ridge, hike in the Hoh Rainforest, or explore other gems of the Olympic National Park. The parks are an important part of who we are in this region – and they’re vitally important to our local economy. Our communities do better when visitors can visit the park and then spend a few bucks at a local restaurant, shop, or B&B.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration recently released a proposal that would nearly triple entrance fees—driving a car into the park would cost $70. 

Let me be clear: I don’t support that.

Our national parks have a maintenance problem. The influx of visitors has strained park resources. But we can fix these problems without jacking up prices on families that want to spend time in the park.  

Instead of this giant fee increase, I’m pushing for Congress to take action on a bipartisan bill I introduced earlier this year to help the Park Service address its maintenance backlog. The Seattle Times has backed my bipartisan proposal. Read more in their review here.

Online Ads: A Quick Update

In my last newsletter, I did a deep dive into my bipartisan legislation to provide more transparency into online political ads. Last week, executives from major tech companies came to Capitol Hill to testify about the problem. Not only that, but a local activist and founding member of one of my favorite bands, Krist Novoselic, wrote an op-ed for Rolling Stone about why my legislation should become a law. You can read it here. I also went on CNN with my colleague Rep. Mike Coffman to talk about how this bill could boost transparency in our democracy. Watch our conversation here.

Another Opportunity to Hear Your Priorities

We are grappling with a lot of big issues. It’s during these times that I most appreciate hearing from you. So I’m holding another telephone town hall on November 14 at 6pm Pacific. I look forward to answering your questions—and talking about what I’ve been up to since our previous telephone town hall. You can sign up by sending an email to kilmer.teletownhall@mail.house.gov with your name and phone number.

Working for You

On Saturday, I visited with Safe Streets in Tacoma. They are doing great work to build safe, healthy, thriving communities.

Last week, I had another great “Kilmer at Your Company” visit. This time, I visited Columbia Bank and had a terrific discussion regarding the important role community banks play in supporting our local economies. Thanks to new CEO Hadley Robbins for taking the time to visit!

I met with Tenzing Gyatso, the new Director of The Evergreen State College - Tacoma. I was honored to welcome her to Tacoma and chat about the college’s future here in our community.

Okay, that’s it for this time. Thanks for tuning in!