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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session is almost over, with the final gavel scheduled to drop on March 7. We have been busy voting on numerous bills from the Senate this week on many issues, including the Climate Commitment Act (cap-and-trade program) and new energy bills that are going to hurt Washington.

With Energy and Gas Prices Soaring, Majority Party Passes More Harmful Legislation

No real relief for fire victims and higher costs to rebuild: First, let’s start with House Bill 1899, which has good intentions but misses the mark. The majority party amended the bill in committee and both chambers have passed it. The new version of the bill calls for financial assistance to be available for local governments, businesses, and individuals to repair or replace damaged or destroyed buildings, but in a proscribed climate “friendly” way.

This version is better than nothing, but it really doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. Click here to read an opinion piece from Sue Lani Madsen in the Spokesman-Review to better understand the differences between my original version of the bill and what the Legislature passed. The revised version is another example of the majority party putting questionable environmental policies over affordability and the livelihood of the people of Washington, with no regard for the consequences.

Carbon market linkage policy will increase gas prices further: Senate Bill 6058 would make changes to Washington’s Climate Commitment Act that are designed to make the state’s program more compatible with California and Quebec’s linked cap-and-invest carbon market. The bill intends to facilitate the negotiation of a “linkage agreement” that would be entered into by the Director of Ecology on behalf of Washington. This is another bad energy policy that will have negative consequences for working families, for several reasons.

  • Washington already has an affordability crisis, and linking to high-cost California will make matters worse.
  • With too many variables to estimate the impact to revenue, linkage creates uncertainty for Washington’s budgets.
  • There is too little protection for Washington consumers and a linked market would limit the state Legislature’s autonomy.

Click on the image below to watch my floor speech strongly opposing this bill and click here to watch the entire debate.

Legislation to Ban Natural Gas: Additionally, you might recall the House previously passed a bill that would negatively affect our entire state if it becomes law, including many of you who live in the 6th District. House Bill 1589 would prohibit any large gas company that serves more than 500,000 retail natural gas customers in Washington from providing natural gas service to any new commercial or residential location starting this year. This bill, which the Senate passed on Friday, would have a huge impact on energy prices with little or no positive impact on pollution. Click on the image below to watch my speech on the House floor opposing this legislation.

Update on the Initiatives to the Legislature

Turning to the statewide initiatives, I’m happy to report the Legislature held public hearings on three of these initiatives last week, and on Friday, the House and Senate voted them out of their respective committees. Use the links below to watch each of these hearings.

I-2111 Concerning Taxes on Personal Revenue

I-2081 Concerning Parental Rights Relating to Public Schools Education

I-2113 Concerning Vehicular Pursuits by Peace Officers

Both chambers are voting on these initiatives today and they are all expected to pass and become law. I will update you with more details and links to the debates likely later this week.

As for the other three initiatives, Democratic leaders said they would not hold public hearings on I-2117, a repeal of the Climate Commitment Act, I-2109, a repeal of the capital gains tax, and I-2124, an optout of Washington’s long-term care retirement program – meaning they will go directly to the November ballot. To learn more about each initiative and the process in general, please click here.

Update on My Other Legislation

In addition to HB 1899 passing the Senate, House Bill 2014 and House Bill 2481 have also been approved by the Senate and sent to the governor. HB 2014 would standardize requirements relating to qualifying discharges for the purpose of establishing eligibility for various benefit programs for veterans and provide a definition of “qualifying discharge.” This bill is a big deal for the service members who need veteran benefits. It will not change anyone’s level of service who has already received an honorable discharge. But any service member with a discharge other than dishonorable, should have access to all veteran benefits and programs.

HB 2481 would waive the payment of health benefit premiums during the month of death for retired participants in the Public Employees’ Benefits Board health coverage programs. We all know going through the death of a family member is a difficult process. This piece of legislation would be significant for surviving family members when a loved one dies. The last thing they should have to worry about is their health insurance. This bill would allow them to focus on healing.

Thank You for Your Support!

Thank you for your trust and for allowing me to serve you in Olympia. If you have any input, please reach out to me by using the contact info below.

Sincerely,


Mike Volz

State Representative Mike Volz, 6th Legislative District
RepresentativeMikeVolz.com
427 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mike.volz@leg.wa.gov
(509) 456-2750 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000