Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2024 legislative session is underway. I urge you to stay engaged and follow what is happening in Olympia this year. There are many critical issues facing our communities and state that need to be addressed.
KIT Radio interview
The first couple of weeks have been very busy. On Tuesday, I participated in a short interview with KIT Radio. We discussed a variety of issues. To listen to the interview click on the photo below.
You can help influence policies being considered by the Legislature that impact the 15th District and Washington state by sharing your thoughts, questions and concerns with your legislators and their colleagues. I appreciate hearing your input and feedback on the legislation before us. Below are helpful links for following the session.
- Sign-up for The Week Ahead | A weekly compilation from House Republicans featuring crucial committee hearings, with links and other details for your reference.
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz | A weekday summary of online news stories from across the state.
- Bookmark the Washington State Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
- Get involved
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, opinion pieces, bills, and other information. You can also access it by clicking the QR code below.
Sen. Nikki Torres ‘State of the State’ response
The 60-day legislative session started Monday, Jan. 8, with opening ceremonies. House Republican Leader Rep. Drew Stokesbary’s floor speech highlighted the increasing number of crises facing our state including – the cost of living, public safety, drugs, K-12 education, child care, housing and homelessness. More details on those issues are below.
On Tuesday, the two chambers came together for a joint session and to listen to Gov. Inslee’s State of the State address. That speech was followed by the Republican perspective, given by my seatmate, Sen. Nikki Torres. She did a phenomenal job and painted a good contrast between what the governor’s speech included and the real challenges facing many of the people of Washington state.
Police pursuit initiative certified
On Friday, Initiative 2113 (Concerning vehicular pursuits by peace officers) was officially certified. The bill is now in the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee.
Earlier this week, House Republicans made a motion to instruct the committee to promptly hold a public hearing on Initiative 2113. House Democrats unanimously voted against it, with all Republicans supporting the motion.
House Republicans believe the Legislature should take quick action on I-2113 this session as the state’s constitution reads initiatives to the Legislature ‘shall take precedence over all other measures.’ We want to give a voice to the more than 430,000 who signed the initiative and the many more who believe we need this passed into law.
We have an opportunity to send a message to criminals who have taken advantage of the change in law. The majority party’s legislation that was passed in 2021 has limited vehicular pursuits of police officers and had a devastating impact on our communities. Crime statistics in Washington state are staggering. See below.
- #51 in police officers per capita behind all states and D.C. (WASPC Report)
- #1 state most impacted by retail theft (Forbes)
- #2 for all property crime (Statista)
- #3 for automobile thefts (KIRO)
Quick action would align us with the public who want to see this initiative passed.
Initiative repealing the Climate Committee Act also certified
On Wednesday, another initiative was certified, Initiative 2117. This would repeal the Climate Commitment Act. This is the legislation passed in 2021 which set up a carbon-pricing system for greenhouse gas emissions. It has raised about $1.8 billion, about three times more than expected. The increase in gas prices in Washington state directly correlates with the implementation of the cap-and-trade program last January. Washington continues to have the third highest gas prices in the country, and folks at the pump are paying an average of about $4.01, while the national average is around $3.07.
Let’s Fix Washington
House Republican priorities this session address the many crises in Washington state. Below is a breakdown of some of the crises we need to address. The statistics speak for themselves. I have included links to some of the legislation we have introduced to help fix Washington so we have a better state to live, work and raise our families.
I shared some public safety statistics above and shared a couple of graphics. Below are some more crime stats and a link to our public safety solutions.
- Homicide is up 96% since 2019 culminating in a new state record (WASPC Report)
- 61% of violent crimes go unsolved (WA Criminal Justice Snapshot)
- #3 highest gas prices in the nation (Forbes)
- #4 most expensive state to buy a home (Forbes)
- #4 highest combined sales tax rate in the country (Tax Foundation)
- #35 for business climate, down from #15 in 2022 prior to the capital gains tax
- (State Business Tax Climate Index)
- Seattle has the #9 highest cost of living (Axios)
- The amount of fentanyl seized by the federal DEA has increased by 1670%
- since 2019 (DEA)
- #1 largest increase in drug overdose deaths over the past year (CDC Data)
- Opioid deaths have more than doubled since 2019 (UW)
- First responders called to 2,000 opioid overdoses per month in 2023 (DOH)
Housing and homelessness crisis
- #4 most expensive state to buy a home (Forbes)
- #50 in housing units per household (Lt. Gov. Report)
- #4 highest homelessness rate (US News & World Reports)
- #6 largest number of homeless students (Building Changes)
- 60% of students are failing math and 50% are failing reading (OSPI)
- #25 for overall public school system (WalletHub)
- #48 in college enrollment after high school (NCES)
- #31 for Pre-K (U.S. News & World Report)
Child care crisis
- 63% of children under age five do not have access to a nearby childcare provider, which reduces the state workforce by 133,000 (Commerce Report)
- #9 for most expensive infant childcare (Economic Policy Institute)
- The average family spends over 35% of their income to send two children to childcare (Economic Policy Institute)
I am working hard to support legislation in the legislative process that would benefit the 15th District and our state while playing defense against bills that could be detrimental to our communities and negatively impact Washington. I have prime-sponsored a couple of bills this session.
- House Bill 2193 would establish a new environmental restoration accelerator for salmon recovery. It would cut out some of the red tape and get salmon restoration projects done more timely. It has bipartisan support and had a public hearing on Wednesday. However, some of the agencies have some concerns. I will keep working on it.
- House Concurrent Resolution 4405 – Under this resolution the building being constructed on campus would be named the Irving R. Newhouse Building. The building previously in its location was named after Sen. Newhouse after his retirement in 1998. However, it was demolished in 2023. The Legislature approves names for new buildings on the capitol grounds. Many in the Legislature would like to see the new building remain the Irving R. Newhouse Building to honor his great service to the 15th District and Washington state. He represented the 15th District for 34 years (1965 -1980 in the House and 1980 – 1998 in the Senate).
If you have any questions, concerns or comments on issues we are facing this legislative session, or related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me.
It is an honor to serve the great 15th District!