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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are almost two weeks into the 2024 legislative session, which is scheduled to last 60 days. Before I get into some of the top issues, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your sincere interest and concern for your neighborhoods and communities. I hope you will continue reaching out to me throughout this session. Your input is helpful as I work to represent you in Olympia.

Affordability Crisis – Why is Washington So Expensive?

We face numerous difficult issues and I know many people in our district and throughout Washington are struggling. High taxes and burdensome regulations have driven up costs for working families. We have the third highest gas prices in the nation (Forbes), the fourth highest combined sales tax rate in the country (Tax Foundation), and we are the fourth most expensive state to buy a home (Forbes).

I understand life can be hard and many of you are suffering from this affordability crisis. It is easy to point fingers, but the reality is, we need to find real solutions to help lower the cost of living and provide significant relief to those who are struggling financially. House Republicans are offering several bills to address affordability. Click here to learn more about these solutions.

Public Safety and Police Pursuit Initiative

Resolving the public safety crisis is one of our top priorities this session. We are the #1 state most impacted by retail theft(Forbes), #2 for all property crime (Statista), and #3 for auto thefts (KIRO). However, Washington is #51 in police officers per capita behind all states and D.C. (WASPC Report).

We need more officers, and we need to give them the proper tools to protect our communities. Law enforcement’s ability to pursue has been a major issue since the Legislature passed House Bill 1054 in 2021. This law requires police to have probable cause instead of reasonable suspicion to pursue bad actors. I opposed this bill.

Since then, criminals have felt emboldened and law enforcement has felt abandoned. Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5352, which restored the standard of reasonable suspicion – but only in a handful of limited circumstances for the most serious crimes. It did not go far enough.

This year, more than 430,000 Washingtonians signed Initiative 2113, which would restore vehicular pursuit based on reasonable suspicion. It has been certified by the Secretary of State.

On Monday, House Republicans made a motion on the floor for I-2113 to receive a prompt public hearing in committee. House Democrats unanimously voted it down. These are the possible outcomes moving forward:

  1. The Legislature may adopt the initiative as proposed, making it law without a vote of the people.
  2. The Legislature may reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, which would put the initiative on the ballot at the next general election.
  3. The Legislature may propose a different measure dealing with the same subject and both measures must be placed on the next general election ballot.

Keep checking my website and reading my email updates for the latest on this issue.

Update on My 2024 Legislation

I have filed a few bills this session, which align with House Republican priorities. Here’s a summary:

House Bill 1881 would establish a uniform standard for creating an established relationship for the purposes of coverage of audio only telemedicine services by expanding the time in which a healthcare provider has seen the patient. It would also remove the expiration of provisions allowing for the use of real-time interactive appointments using both audio and video technology.

House Bill 1884 would make it easier for individuals with metastatic cancer to receive the prescription medication they need by removing unnecessary barriers. Anyone suffering from any type of cancer faces enough difficulties and uncertainties, without having to worry about whether they can get the right medication as quickly as possible. By allowing them to skip the cumbersome step therapy process, we can give them some peace of mind and perhaps extend their lives a little longer.

House Bill 2172 would require state agencies that own vacant properties within a qualifying city to lease those properties to the city for use during a declared emergency related to homelessness.

House Bill 2208 would provide flexibility in calculating nursing rates for the purposes of implementing new centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

House Bill 2340 would reduce Department of Licensing fees for Washington residents who have served in the military.

House Bill 1113 would require the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) to adopt rules for reviewing and vacating reprimands issued to certificated professional educators that did not involve a student. I introduced this legislation last year, but it stalled in the Senate. I’m happy to report it has unanimously passed the House again this year and is waiting to be heard in the Senate. Some teachers with reprimands are outstanding educators and will likely never repeat the offense. I believe in redemption and educators with minor infractions should be given an opportunity to clear their record.

I will continue updating you on all these bills as the session progresses.

Please Stay in Touch!

Your feedback is extremely important as we work on the many issues impacting our communities and state. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me. Just reference the contact info below to speak with me or schedule an appointment. I’m always here to listen. Together, we can make a difference.

It’s an honor to serve you!

Sincerely,


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
RepresentativePaulHarris.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
paul.harris@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7976 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000