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Friends and Neighbors,

Week three of the 2024 legislative session is coming to a close. As I mentioned in my last email update, things are moving quickly in this short, 60-day session. I discuss the Legislature’s fast pace, processes and deadlines in this video. I also highlight my legislative priorities, including reducing tax burdens on Washingtonians.

State lawmakers will reach their first self-imposed deadline on Wednesday: policy committee cutoff – house of origin. This means bills will need to make it out of their respective policy committees, or they are likely “dead.” You can find the 2024 Session Cutoff Calendar here.

Banning natural gas in new residential and commercial buildings

On Monday, the House passed a controversial bill that would essentially ban natural gas in new residential and commercial buildings. I voted against House Bill 1589 because it would make life even more expensive in our state, including more costs for housing, goods and services. Our state’s residents and businesses need affordable, reliable energy options – especially when our region experiences cold weather as it did recently.

You can watch my House floor speech on this legislation here. In my remarks, I also share other concerns about this bill – including the far-reaching, negative impacts on businesses and their employees, such as the pulp and paper industry and the forestland owners who depend on these log markets. This bill passed the House and died in the Senate last year. Let’s hope it fails in the Senate again this year.

Initiatives

What has made this legislative session unique is the five initiatives to the Legislature, which have been certified and have now been referred to House committees. In my time as a state representative, we have never had a legislative session in which this many initiatives have been submitted to the Legislature for consideration. It’s quite remarkable and sends a clear message that Washingtonians want state lawmakers to do more on the issues of public safety and affordability. I want us to do more on these issues, too.

Here is a recap of the initiatives that have been certified and are before the Legislature, to date, including which House committee they have been referred to:

Initiative 2113 | Concerning vehicular pursuits by peace officers. | Secretary of State news release
Referred to the House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee.
This would restore vehicular pursuit options for law enforcement and allow them to pursue suspected criminals. I support this initiative because our state is in a public safety crisis and this measure would allow our police officers do their jobs and keep our communities safe.

Initiative 2117 | Concerning carbon tax credit trading. | Secretary of State news release
Referred to the House Environment and Energy Committee.
This would repeal the state’s new cap-and-trade program, or carbon tax. I support this initiative because the carbon tax has driven up the costs of gas and energy for Washingtonians – making our state even less affordable than before.

Initiative 2109 | Concerning taxes on long-term capital assets. | Secretary of State news release
Referred to the House Finance Committee, where I am the ranking member.
This would repeal the state’s new capital gains income tax. I voted against this tax in 2021 because it is unstable, unpopular and unnecessary. I also continue to believe it is unconstitutional, but our state Supreme Court disagreed. It is also a step toward a new state income tax. Our state has plenty of tax collections to pay for its priorities without this new tax. You can find the statement I released on Wednesday on the certification of I-2109 here.

Initiative 2081 | Concerning parental rights relating to their children’s public school education. | Secretary of State news release
Referred to the House Education Committee.
This would establish a Parents’ Bill of Rights relating to their children’s public school education. With so many parents taking their children out of public schools following the pandemic, I think this initiative would help build trust through more transparency. It is really important for our state to have a strong public education system. Unfortunately, many of our students suffered learning loss due to the pandemic. We have to get them back on track. Learn more here.

Initiative 2111 | Concerning taxes on personal income. | Secretary of State news release
Also referred to the House Finance Committee.
This would prohibit state and local personal income taxes. Washingtonians have told us several times they do not want a state income tax. It has always been a bad idea, but especially when our state has an affordability crisis. Not having state or local income taxes is good for individuals, families and our economy.

For each initiative that has been introduced in the House, my caucus has made a House floor motion to request that each one receive a prompt public hearing in their respective committees. Each motion has been voted down by the majority on a party-line vote. This is disappointing. More than 400,000 Washingtonians signed each one of these initiatives. They deserve for their voices to be heard in Olympia.

Making initiatives a priority in the Legislature is not just a Republican talking point. Article II, Section 1(a) of our state constitution reads, in part: “Such initiative measures, whether certified or provisionally certified, shall take precedence over all other measures in the legislature except appropriation bills and shall be either enacted or rejected without change or amendment by the legislature before the end of such regular session.” This is clear to me. These initiatives not only deserve attention, including public hearings where Washingtonians can weigh in, but the state constitution requires the Legislature to do so.

Scenarios for initiatives in the Legislature

Many are wondering: What happens next with these initiatives? Great question! Here’s the answer:

  1. If the Legislature adopts the initiative as proposed, it becomes law without a vote of the people.
  2. If the Legislature rejects or refuses to act on the proposed initiative, then the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next general election.
  3. If the Legislature proposes a different measure dealing with the same subject, then both measures must be placed on the next general election ballot.

The majority party’s refusal to give these initiatives a public hearing in their respective committees suggests that option 1 above is highly unlikely. We will see how the other two scenarios play out.

Stay connected

We are approaching a time when I and other state lawmakers will be voting on several bills in committees and on the floor. It is critical that I hear from constituents as I decide how to vote on amendments and bills. I welcome your input, whether it be an email, call, letter, or in-person visit. But there are several other ways for you to weigh in on what’s happening in the Legislature. I’ll again share the link below with important resources.

How you can be involved in the legislative process

Sincerely,


Ed Orcutt

State Representative Ed Orcutt, 20th Legislative District
RepresentativeEdOrcutt.com
408 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
ed.orcutt@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7990 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000