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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session is now in the rearview mirror, after the final gavel dropped on Thursday, March 7. Here’s a recap of what happened in Olympia over that last 60 days.

Update on Initiatives to the Legislature

Perhaps the biggest win this year was the Legislature passing three of the six statewide initiatives certified by the Secretary of State in January. I supported each of these measures, which you can learn more about by clicking on the links below.

Initiative 2113 will allow law enforcement to use the “reasonable suspicion” standard to pursue criminals rather than “probable cause,” which became law after the 2021 session. Click here to view the public hearing.

Initiative 2111 will prohibit state and local personal income taxes at any level. With so many people struggling with the current affordability crisis, this will protect everyone from future attempts by the majority party to impose taxes on our personal income. Click here to view the public hearing.

Initiative 2081 will create a Parents’ Bill of Rights that will increase transparency and ensure that public schools share with parents any records relating to their children, including instructional materials and health-related issues. Click here to view the public hearing, and click on the image below to hear why I support this policy.

Democratic leaders chose not to 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 opt-out of Washington’s long-term care retirement program – meaning they will now go to the November ballot for voters to decide their fate.

To learn more about each initiative and the process in general, please click here.

Update on Good and Bad Bills From the 2024 Session

There were some successes this session, which include:

  • House Bill 1862 creates a sales tax and B&O tax exemption for non-profit organizations that operate on military reservations and serve disabled veterans and members of the armed forces.
  • House Bill 1943 allows the National Guard Postsecondary Education Grant to be extended to a soldier’s spouse and dependent, thereby extending the length of time the grant can be received.
  • House Bill 2153 establishes new felony and gross misdemeanor crimes for trafficking in, possessing, selling, or offering to sell catalytic converters.
  • House Bill 2357 establishes a longevity bonus for Washington State Patrol troopers with 26 years or more of service. This will help provide an incentive to keep our most experienced officers on the highways.
  • House Bill 1987 allows rural public facilities sales and use tax to be used for affordable workforce housing.
  • House Bill 2375 extends the senior property tax exemption and deferral programs to detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
  • House Bill 2003 creates a leasehold excise tax exemption when public lands are used for affordable housing.

There were also some disappointments or bad bills the majority party passed, including:

  • House Bill 1589 requires Puget Sound Energy to stop connecting new customers to gas and direct them to blend the gas and electric lines into one rate base. This will drive up energy costs for many people.
  • Senate Bill 6058 amends the Climate Commitment Act to facilitate a linkage of carbon markets with California and Quebec. 
  • House Bill 1903 requires a person who suffers a loss or theft of a firearm to report the loss or theft to local law enforcement within 24 hours.
  • House Bill 2331 restricts local control of school board authority regarding instructional materials and school library materials.
  • Senate Bill 5462 requires the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into all new or revised state learning standards in every subject for every grade level. It also requires school districts to adopt inclusive curricula that study various groups.
  • House Bill 1282 requires contractors on covered projects to provide certain environmental, health, labor, and human resource data about construction materials used. 

State Spending Budgets

We also passed the three state government spending plans: the supplemental operating, transportation, and capital budgets. Here’s a brief recap of each.

Supplemental Capital Budget: The final 2024-25 supplemental capital budget will spend a total of $1.33 billion, with more than $4 million of that for projects in the 6th District, including:

  • $300,000 for the engineering and surveying of essential fire recovery.
  • $515,000 for airport improvement for the Transloading Containment Sewer Area.
  • $2.1 million for the Washington State Veterans Cemetery burial and columbarium expansion grant.

Like every district, we have many needs in our area. There simply isn’t enough funding to fulfill all the requests. Still, we are grateful to the Capital Budget Committee for helping us secure this money for the people of the 6th District, especially the funding for wildfire recovery. We tried to do more, but the money we did get will make a difference.

For a complete list of our local projects, click here and select the 6th Legislative District in the drop down window and then hit the “view report” button.

Supplemental Transportation Budget: As a member of the Transportation Committee, I saw firsthand the tremendous effort that went into writing and finalizing this final 2024-25 supplemental budget, which allocates an additional $1.1 billion on top of last year’s $13.5 billion. It prioritizes maintenance and preservation investments, focuses on enhancing highway safety, and addresses the recruitment and retention of Washington State Patrol officers.

Me and my 6th District seatmates secured more than $3 million in additional funding this year, including $419,000 for the safe routes to school project for Snowdon Elementary School. The additional money for transportation projects in this supplemental budget will positively impact the transportation system in our communities.

Supplemental Operating Budget: This budget does some good things, but it has more than doubled over the last decade. This kind of spending is unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible. Additionally, it fails to offer any tax relief for Washingtonians and continues to spend money at a record level. We need to control our spending, keep more in reserve, and help people struggling with the state’s affordability crisis. This budget does not reflect those priorities, which is why I voted “no.”

Update on My Other Legislation

House Bill 1899, which the governor signed into law on Monday, will make assistance available to local governments, businesses, and individuals to repair or replace damaged or destroyed buildings, but in a more prescribed climate “friendly” way. The amended version of the bill is better than nothing, but we missed an opportunity to help people right now. It could take more than a year, or even longer to receive assistance. That won’t be soon enough for many people. Click here to learn more, and click on the image below to watch my floor speech.

House Bill 2014, also signed into law on Monday, will standardize the requirements relating to qualifying discharges for the purpose of establishing eligibility for various benefit programs for veterans. It will also provide a definition of “qualifying discharge.” Click here to learn more and here to watch my floor speech.

House Bill 2481, which the governor signed on Tuesday, will waive the payment of health benefit premiums during the month of death for retired participants in the Public Employees’ Benefits Board health coverage programs. Click here to learn more, and here to watch my floor speech.

I’m grateful these bills will become law and I look forward to seeing their impact.

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.

It’s an honor to serve you.

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