Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are in week four of the 60-day 2024 legislative session. Six initiatives are now certified by the Secretary of State’s Office and officially before the Legislature for consideration.
- Initiative 2113 would restore the ability of law enforcement officers to engage in vehicular pursuit.
- Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, or the state’s new carbon tax program.
- Initiative 2081 would establish a parental bill of rights, so parents would have authority over their child’s school and medical records.
- Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains income tax.
- Initiative 2111 would prohibit personal income taxes in Washington state.
- Initiative 2124 would allow workers to opt-out of the Washington Cares program and payroll tax.
After each initiative has been certified, House Republican leadership has made a motion on the House floor that would allow a public hearing to be held promptly in the respective committee. Unfortunately, House Democrats unanimously voted each motion down on a party-line vote. Click here to watch my comments after the majority defeated our motion on I-2117.
The Washington State Constitution defines the priority given to initiatives in the legislative process. It states that initiative measures “shall take precedence over all other measures in the legislature, except appropriation bills.”
A hearing would give the more than 400,000 people who signed each initiative a voice in the public process. At this point, it does not appear the majority party is interested in scheduling any of the initiatives for a public hearing.
Backcountry search and rescue account
My legislation that would support backcountry search and rescue organizations and volunteers through the creation of a grant program is moving through the legislative process. House Bill 2257 had a public hearing in the Innovation, Community and Economic Development, and Veterans Committee and was voted out of committee by a 12-1 vote. The Appropriations Committee is now considering the legislation.
As recreational opportunities in our state continue to grow, we are seeing more back country search and rescue missions. The Washington State Military Department estimates about 1,000 search and rescue missions per year. Depending on terrain, rescue personnel needed and specialty equipment such as helicopters, the missions can be very costly.
Having a mechanism in place would allow local agencies and dedicated volunteer groups to mitigate some of the costs associated with the backcountry search and rescues.
Easing the tax burden for Washington state senior citizens
I have sponsored legislation that would add “detached” accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to property that qualifies for the senior citizen and disabled persons property tax exemption. The measure, House Bill 2375, recently had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee. It is scheduled for a committee vote later this week. It does not impact property taxes and increases housing options by allowing more ADUs.
House Republicans priorities for the session include public safety, affordability, housing and homelessness, the drug crisis, education and the child care crisis. Click the graphic below for detailed information.
Unfortunately, many issues or bills that we feel are priorities have not been scheduled for hearings, including the initiatives.
In fact, legislation that seems to be going in the opposite direction has received public hearings, including bills that would grant special privileges to incarcerated or convicted individuals. Those types of bills do not reflect public safety being a top priority as it should. Click here for crime numbers in Washington.
Some of the measures you may find interesting include:
- House Bill 2030 would allow inmates to vote, seek public office or sit on juries while still in prison. The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, would qualify for those privileges under this legislation.
- House Bill 2177 would require a convicted sex offender to be among the members of the State Sex Offender Policy Board. Can you imagine being a victim of a sex offense and having a sex offender on the board making policy? It would change the name of the Sex Offender Policy Board to the Sex Offense Policy Board.
- Last week, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 1589, which would ban natural gas by a vote of 52-45. This was not long after the cold snap maxed out Washington’s energy grid. The bill is now in the Senate for consideration.
- House Bill 2262 would establish and enforce energy-efficient standards for replacement tires on cars and trucks. This would dictate what types of tires you have to put on your vehicles. The increase in price could be as much as $50 per tire. The tires would also wear out quicker and need to be replaced more often. This impacts those who can least afford it. People struggling with inflation and affordability issues are already trying to find the best tires at a reasonable price.
Virtual Town Hall
My seatmate, Rep. Mike Steele and I are having Virtual Town Hall on Monday, Feb. 19, 6 – 7 p.m. We want to give you the opportunity to discuss any legislative issues you may have this session. You can register by clicking here.
River Academy student pages in the state House of Representatives
Keanan Koempel, a student at The River Academy in Wenatchee, served as a legislative page the week of Jan. 21 to Jan. 26. She is the daughter of Josh and Ashley Koempel. Keanan delivered messages and documents to legislators during committee meetings, to their offices, and in the House chamber. She also attended page school during the week. Pages are paid $65 a day and can also earn up to 20 hours of community service.
Stay connected this session
I urge you to continue following the Legislature this session. There are many important issues to be debated and voted on as we move forward. Below are some helpful links.
- Sign-up for The Week Ahead | A weekly compilation from House Republicans featuring important committee hearings, with links and other details for your reference.
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A weekday summary of online news stories from across the state.
- Bookmark the Washington State Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns about the legislative session or state government.
It is an honor to serve the 12th District in the state House of Representatives.