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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

And that’s a wrap! The 2024 legislative session adjourned on Thursday, March 7th, around 5:30 p.m. It was a short, fast-paced 60-day session, concluding shortly after the passage of the supplemental operating and transportation budgets earlier in the day.

During the last few days, lawmakers focused on finalizing and approving budgets while reconciling differences between bills passed in each chamber. Throughout the session, combined, both the House and Senate introduced more than 1600 bills.

Voices heard, impact made

Before we dive into recapping the wins and losses of the session, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who reached out to me or made the journey over the mountains to visit. A special thank you goes out to those who testified on bills or topics important to our communities.

Additionally, I want to extend my appreciation to all those who joined our 8th District virtual town hall, subscribed to and read my e-newsletters, tuned in to watch proceedings on TVW, or submitted written testimony.

Your voices truly matter, and your active involvement makes a real difference. It’s your engagement that helps the mighty 8th District have an impact in Olympia. Thank you for taking the time to participate and influence your state government.

Legislative wins


I’m delighted to announce the successful passage of two bills I sponsored, both approved with strong bipartisan support. Additionally, I worked behind the scenes to secure $25 million in funding for Small Modular Reactor (SMR) development in our region.

Here’s a brief overview of each accomplishment:

First, I’m particularly excited to be a part of securing $25 million in the state’s 2023-25 supplemental capital budget for SMR development, a milestone for our district and the state’s energy landscape.

This allocation serves as a non-federal match for Energy Northwest’s involvement in the United States Department of Energy’s loan program’s office application, advancing SMR development near the Columbia Generating Station. With strong bipartisan support, its inclusion in the final budget underscores our shared commitment to clean, safe, and efficient energy solutions.

  • Read more about this funding.

Additionally, my energy bill, House Bill 1955, received unanimous approval in both chambers. This bill streamlines utility reporting requirements, enhancing the efficiency of Washington’s energy sector. By eliminating redundant utility mandates, specifically rescinding a greenhouse gas content disclosure provision outlined in the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), my bill eases regulatory burdens without compromising public benefits. Its successful passage underscores my determination to enact pragmatic solutions that reduce unnecessary regulations, benefiting both the economy and the environment.

  • Learn more about HB 1955.

And finally, Substitute House Bill 1870 garnered overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill addresses barriers communities face in securing matching funds at the local level, despite increased federal grant opportunities.

My bill empowers communities with the resources necessary to access federal grants, offering a resource guide, technical support, assistance in crafting competitive grant applications, and other criteria for prioritizing applications.

Taking advantage of these opportunities now matters! Available federal grants cover various areas, such as broadband, clean energy, building infrastructure, and transportation. SHB 1870 serves as the key to advancing community development efforts statewide.

  • Learn more about SHB 1870.

Initiatives

Washingtonians have felt the negative impacts of various public policies enacted by the majority party in recent years. In January, six initiatives were brought before the Legislature by the people, aiming to address these issues. The people won a significant victory with the approval of three of those initiatives, which are:

  • I-2113: Restoring vehicular police pursuits
  • I-2111: Prohibiting state and local personal income taxes
  • I-2081: Establishing a Parents’ Bill of Rights

Under Washington state statute, when a voter initiative is approved by the Legislature, it is enacted without requiring approval from the governor. The remaining three will go before voters in November:

  • I-2117: Repealing the carbon tax
  • I-2124: Opting out of the state LTC program/payroll tax 
  • I-2109: Repealing the capital gains tax

Learn more about all six initiatives.

Supplemental state budgets

Below is an update on my votes and views on the final versions of the state’s three main spending plans (operating, transportation, and capital) that passed at the end of the legislative session.

Regarding the supplemental operating budget, I’m disappointed that House Republicans weren’t included in the negotiations. We represent significant portions of the state, and our communities deserve representation in these discussions. However, my decision to vote against it was primarily driven by concerns about taxpayer spending. Over the past decade, overall state spending has more than doubled, which is troubling.


While the absence of new taxes in this plan is positive, it’s disappointing that there’s no tax relief for struggling Washingtonians. Lawmakers have had multiple opportunities to enact meaningful tax relief in recent budget cycles but have failed to do so.

Moving on to the transportation budget, I voted in favor. The supplemental transportation budget 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.

Unlike the operating budget, this plan included considerable bipartisan collaboration. The budget discussions were subject to significant pressures, including revenue constraints, project demands, and other challenges. As a result, it required several hard choices and bipartisan agreements.

And finally, the $1.33 billion supplemental capital budget highlights bipartisan collaboration, set to benefit communities across our state. I’m excited to announce that several projects for the 8th District were included.

8th District secures $49 Million in capital budget for local projects

Thanks to the collective effort of Sen. Matt Boehnke, Rep. April Connors, and myself, we secured over $49 million for projects within our district as part of the statewide plan.

In addition to our focus on the 8th District, we contributed significantly to projects in the neighboring 15th and 16th districts, securing an additional $53.6 million in regional allocations. These projects demonstrate our commitment to shared community efforts.

  • Find more information about these projects in this recent news release.

More to come!

Keep an eye out for my next update. I’ll be sharing more about the good and not-so-good bills passed this session, along with some highlights and snapshots of visitors who dropped by Olympia.

While I’m excited to be back home in the Tri-Cities, I want to remind you that even though the legislative session has ended, I’m your state representative year-round. Don’t hesitate to get in touch via phone or email (though email is easiest for me) anytime you have questions or need assistance. I’m here to help and always happy to hear from you.

Thank you for the honor of serving and representing the mighty 8th District!

Sincerely,


Stephanie Barnard

State Representative Stephanie Barnard, 8th Legislative District
representativestephaniebarnard.com
469 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
stephanie.barnard@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7986 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000