Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we wrap up the fourth week of the 2024 legislative session, it’s clear things are moving swiftly! Wednesday marked a significant milestone with the House of Origin Policy Committee Cutoff. From here on, deadlines and votes will intensify as we move forward in the legislative session.
This week saw several important public hearings and committee votes. If you want to stay informed about upcoming committee hearings, make sure to subscribe to The Week Ahead. This weekly publication provides a curated list of bills slated for public hearings and committee work sessions, identified by staff as potentially noteworthy.
Legislative update, progress on my proposed bills
I’m excited to provide news regarding my bills making their way through the legislative pipeline.
First up is House Bill 1955. My bill, which targets the elimination of a particular reporting requirement for electric utilities under the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), recently received unanimous approval from the House of Representatives. This practical measure eliminates redundant requirements, making compliance for utilities more efficient. HB 1955 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
- Read more here or watch my House floor speech below.
Next, House Bill 2120, which targets the acceleration of clean nuclear energy development and the promotion of economic growth in the Tri-Cities and nearby counties, recently achieved a significant milestone. With overwhelming approval from the House Finance Committee, it is advancing.
My bill broadens the support framework for manufacturers of clean, nuclear energy technologies. HB 2120 specifically addresses challenges stemming from prolonged reviews by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It grants additional time for nuclear manufacturing facilities to meet the criteria necessary for tax preferences. The bill now proceeds to the House Rules Committee for scheduling its deliberation on the House floor.
- Read more here.
Finally, I want to highlight House Bill 2117 which prioritizes the safety of communities, businesses, and properties in our region. My proposal would change the permitting process for utility-scale wind turbines, focusing specifically on addressing their impact on aerial firefighting capabilities in wildfire-prone areas — an issue of utmost urgency.
Aerial firefighters play a vital role in combating wildfires, but their effectiveness is compromised when wind turbines exceed 496 feet in height, obstructing crucial flight paths. With commercial wind turbines now surpassing 500 feet, pilots encounter significant challenges in efficiently managing fire outbreaks.
An important amendment I proposed during the committee hearing would require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide written comments before permitting decisions are finalized. Under this amendment, siting authorities are now obligated to request an updated assessment from the DNR concerning the facility’s effect on wildfire response capabilities using helicopters and airplanes. This input may lead siting authorities to reject proposals or introduce additional mitigation measures.
HB 2117 now advances to the House Rules Committee for scheduling its deliberation on the House floor.
- Read more here.
Keep an eye out for further details on these bills and others in my next email update. You can also learn more about my bills by watching my latest legislative update video.
Six initiatives introduced to the Legislature
One of the important stories unfolding in Olympia revolves around the six citizen-driven initiatives that have been certified and forwarded to the Legislature for review. The initiative process in Washington state grants voters the ability to shape or amend laws. According to our Secretary of State, it has been half a century since the Legislature received more than two initiatives in a single year.
I support all these initiatives. However, despite efforts by myself and my colleagues to advocate for public hearings on them, it seems that the majority party is not inclined to do so. I firmly believe the people who took the time to sign these initiatives deserve a platform to be heard in Olympia.
Regardless of personal opinions on the proposals, they deserve fair consideration. These initiatives are supported by the people and demand a just and timely evaluation as mandated by our state Constitution (Article II, Section 1). Along with my legislative colleagues, we will continue to push for this to happen.
- Initiative 2113 would restore important vehicular pursuit options for law enforcement.
- Initiative 2117 would repeal the state’s Climate Commitment Act and its cap-and-trade program. Or, as many of us call it, the carbon tax.
- Initiative 2111 would prohibit state and local personal income taxes.
- Initiative 2081 would establish a Parents’ Bill of Rights for their children’s public school education.
- Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s capital gains tax.
- Initiative 2124 would allow workers in our state to opt out of the WA Cares program and payroll tax.
You might be curious about the next steps or these initiatives. State lawmakers have three choices for each initiative: 1. Pass it; 2. Take no action, allowing it to appear on the ballot in the next general election; 3. Propose an alternative measure concerning the same topic, leading to both measures appearing on the ballot in the next general election.
Mark Your Calendars: 8th District Virtual Town Hall
Just a friendly reminder to save the date for the upcoming 8th District Virtual Town Hall! Join me, Sen. Matt Boehnke, and Rep. April Connors as we co-host this event on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. The virtual town hall will take place on Zoom, so be sure to register early. Don’t forget to submit your questions regarding bills and discussions happening in Olympia when you sign up. I’m looking forward to engaging with you all!
Whether you’re in Olympia or at home, there are several ways to get involved in the legislative process. If you’re in the area, feel free to reach out, and we can schedule a meeting. Don’t hesitate to call, email, or send a letter whenever you have questions or concerns. There are also remote participation options for your convenience, outlined here.
Your input matters, and I’m here to listen and assist in any way possible.
In your service,