OLYMPIA, Wash. — Promoting solar power isn’t usually at the top of state Republicans’ legislative agenda, but Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, wants to ensure the industry keeps one of its competitive advantages in the state.

Warnick is sponsoring House Bill 1912, which would extend a reduced business and occupation tax rate for solar panel manufacturing through 2016. The lower tax rate on manufacturers and wholesalers of solar energy systems, currently at 0.275 percent, is set to increase to the regular manufacturing rate of 0.484 percent on July 1, 2014.

In a news release, Warnick said the bill would benefit a major employer in her hometown of Moses Lake. She said REC Silicon, a solar panel company that recently announced it would eliminate 46 jobs at its facility, needs the lower rate to stay competitive globally.

“While I believe in free market competition, I do think global competitors have an edge with a less rigorous regulatory environment and reduced taxes,” Warnick said.

Warnick mentions several times that the bill is one which should “pique” the interest of Gov. Jay Inslee, a longtime advocate for green and renewable energy products.

A spokeswoman for Inslee’s office said Warnick hasn’t approached the governor about the bill but that he is interested in strengthening opportunities for the clean energy industry.

A companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, received a committee hearing Tuesday but is yet to be slated for executive action.

Contact Mike Faulk at 509-577-7675 or mfaulk@yakimaherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mike_faulk.