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Friends and Neighbors,

The 60-day legislative session ended on Thursday evening. Unlike last year, state lawmakers completed all their work on time and no special session is expected. Barring something extraordinary, the Legislature won’t convene again until January 2025.

Like every legislative session, there were some great bills and budgets that passed that will benefit our communities and state. Most measures passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. However, there were also some bad policies that got pushed through and some missed opportunities from the perspective of Republicans.

Supplemental state budgets

In my last email update, I provided brief descriptions of the state budgets and where I stood on initial House supplemental operating, transportation and capital budget proposals. Below is an update on my votes and views on the final versions of these state spending plans that passed at the end of the legislative session.

Operating budget

I voted “no” on the House Democrats’ proposed supplemental operating budget on February 24 and voted against the final supplemental operating budget yesterday. While I am glad the final version spends less taxpayer money, I still have concerns about overall state spending which has more than doubled over the last decade.

While there are no new taxes in this plan — which is a good thing — there also isn’t any tax relief for struggling Washingtonians. I think that’s a missed opportunity — and a big disappointment. State lawmakers have had chances to pass meaningful tax relief over the last few budget cycles but have failed do to so. I and my colleagues in the House Republican Caucus have introduced measures that would reduce costs for families, including my legislation — House Bill 1704 — which would provide sales tax relief.

I am also disappointed that House Republicans weren’t allowed to help negotiate the supplemental operating budget. We represent large portions of the state and our communities deserve a seat at the table.

Transportation budget

I voted for the supplemental transportation budget. Unlike the operating budget, this budget has been under tremendous pressure in terms of revenue, projects and other challenges. This has required a lot of difficult decisions and bipartisan collaboration.

The supplemental transportation budget will add $1.1 billion to the $13.5 billion allocated last year. It adds maintenance and preservation investments, prioritizes highway safety, focuses on recruiting and retaining Washington State Patrol troopers, and includes funding to prevent and remove graffiti.

I am also happy to report this budget includes $3,585,000 for the Port of Kalama as a Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board reappropriation. It also restores the prior timeline for the North Lewis County Industrial Access. These are important wins for the 20th District.

Capital budget

I voted for the $1.33 billion supplemental capital budget. It represents a lot of bipartisan work that will benefit communities around our state. In this news release from Rep. Peter Abbarno, my fellow legislator from the 20th District and the ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, he talks about the important investments the supplemental capital budget makes in K-12 school construction, mental health facilities, housing, and early learning facilities. He also shares details on the projects that got funded in the 20th District (see below):

  • $5.446 million to replace and upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning units in living units and workspaces at Green Hill School, which are at the end of their useful life.
  • $4.9 million for a Cowlitz PUD landfill methane capture project.
  • $1.950 million for the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County’s United Learning Center.
  • $1.154 million for the Cascadia Tech Natural Resources Learning Center in Kalama in partnership with Kalama High School.
  • $250,000 for remodeling the La Center Wheel Club Community Center.
  • $206,000 for the Southwest Washington Fair and Equestrian Center to design a new covered equestrian center and barns with a future goal of holding equestrian, 4-H and rodeo events year-round.
  • $62,000 for a Kalama Community Building architectural survey to understand the scope and scale of preservation and renovation required to ensure its longevity.

Update on six initiatives

The people of Washington state sent the Legislature six initiatives for consideration. I supported all six of them.

The Legislature responded by passing three of the initiatives during this legislative session: I-2111 (Prohibiting state and local personal income taxes)I-2081 (Establishing a Parents’ Bill of Rights); and I-2113 (Restoring vehicular pursuits for law enforcement). I voted for all three. You can find the statement I sent to the media on I-2111 here. So, these three measures are now set to become law.

The Legislature did not hold public hearings and did not take action on the other three initiatives: I-2117 (Repealing the carbon tax/cap-and-trade program); I-2124 (Opting out of the state long-term care program and payroll tax); and I-2109 (Repealing the capital gains tax). These measures will now advance to the November ballot.

Reminder: I am your full-time state representative

I look forward to returning home to Kalama and visiting with citizens and local leaders in our communities throughout this interim (time between legislative sessions). Even though the legislative session is over, please remember I am your state representative all year long. I am here to listen and help wherever I can. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me (but e-mail is best).

I am allowed to send you email updates for a couple more months until certain restrictions begin in early May. I will touch base again in early April, with information on other bills that passed and died in the legislative session.

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