April 1, 2024
This Issues Topics:
2024 • April • Business Connections • legislative update • Peter Abbarno

By Peter Abbarno
20th District Rep. R-Centralia

The legislative session adjourned, sine die, on March 7th – the constitutional 60-day deadline. Traditionally a “clean-up” session following the longer odd-year sessions, there were almost 25% more bills introduced this year than the past short-sessions.

The results included some good, bad, and ugly policies. The “good” included, the passage of Initiative 2113, restoring police pursuit; Initiative 2081 establishing a parental bill of rights; and Initiative 2111, banning personal state and local income taxes, passed the House and Senate and will become law in June. Over 800,00 Washingtonians signed at least one of the six Initiatives to the Legislature.

Another “good” was the passage of the Capital Budget. As the ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee, I had the privilege of serving as the lead Republican House negotiator and help author the capital budget. The $1.33 billion spending plan passed unanimously and invests heavily in K-12 school construction, mental health and substance abuse recovery, facilities, housing, homeownership and early learning facilities.

Some local investments in the 20th Legislative District included $1.950 million for the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County’s United Learning Center and $206,000 for the pre-design of the Southwest Washington Fair and Equestrian Center. In all, approximately $20 million was invested throughout the 20th district in this year’s capital budget.

Another “good” was our success was including and accelerating $52 million from the Transportation Budget for projects in Lewis County that will help both residential and commercial traffic.

Unfortunately, the session was not all “good”. Sadly, the “bad” included the majority party in both chambers failing to give the other three initiatives any public hearings. Initiative 2124 would allow people to opt out of the new state-run, long-term-care program. Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, the state’s new carbon tax program. Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains tax.

These initiatives should have received hearings and a vote of the Legislature. The silver lining is that the voters will decide the fate of these three initiatives because they will appear at the top of your November ballot.

Also, a “bad” was the lack of any broad-base tax relief. Unlike the capital budget process, the operating budget remains highly partisan. The final operating budget appropriates $72 billion, a $2.2 billion increase over current 2023-25 spending. There was nothing in the operating budget to help provide economic security for families and fixed-income neighbors.

There was also some “ugly” policies. At 2 a.m. on March 5th, House Democrats narrowly passed a bill to phase out natural gas for Puget Sound Energy customers in Washington state by a vote of 50-45, while Washingtonians slept. House Bill 1589 is one of the worst policies to pass the Legislature in recent years. When families are struggling to make ends meet, this will make energy more expensive and less reliable.

Another really “ugly” policy was linking Washington’s Carbon Credit market to the markets in California and Quebec. SB 6058 passed the House and Senate along party lines. The CCA has resulted in an estimated 50 cents/gallon increase to the cost of retail gas in Washington; and California gas prices are even higher. This is a very regressive tax that hurts the community members least able to afford this bad policy.

I work for you year-round. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to be your voice in Olympia. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about government, please email me at [email protected], visit RepresentativePeterAbbarno.com, or call me at (360) 786-7896. Don’t forget: I work for you all year.


Rep. Peter Abbarno represents the 20th Legislative District and is an attorney with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, LLP.

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