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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session ended as scheduled, on Thursday, March 7. This 60-day session was packed full of state business covering numerous issues. As with any session, we had some wins and losses, but overall House Republicans made a real difference for Washingtonians, despite being in the minority.

As your state legislator, I represent people from the entire political spectrum. I strive to listen to everyone in our district on both sides of the aisle to pass good policy that helps Washington. We won’t always agree on every issue, but we can work together to make Washington a safer and better place to live for everyone.

Before I recap some of the biggest stories from this session, I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories, concerns, and priorities with me during the last two months. I truly appreciate hearing from you, and I look forward to meeting with you in-person during the interim.

Update on the Initiatives to the Legislature

Perhaps the biggest win this year was the Legislature passing three of the six statewide initiatives certified by the Secretary of State in January. I supported each of these measures, which you can learn more about by clicking on the links below.

Initiative2113 will allow law enforcement to use the “reasonable suspicion” standard to pursue criminals rather than “probable cause,” which became the standard in 2021. Click here to view the public hearing.

Initiative2111 will prohibit state and local personal income taxes at any level. Too many people are struggling with the current affordability crisis, and this will protect everyone from future attempts by the majority party to impose taxes on our personal income. Click here to view the public hearing.

Initiative2081 will create a Parents’ Bill of Rights that will increase transparency and ensure that public schools share with parents any records relating to their children, including instructional materials and health-related issues. Click here to view the public hearing.

Democratic leaders chose not to hold public hearings on I-2117, a repeal of the Climate Commitment Act; I-2109, a repeal of the capital gains tax; and I-2124, an opt-out of Washington’s long-term care retirement program – meaning they will go directly to the November ballot for voters to decide their fate.

To learn more about each initiative and the initiative process in general, please click here.

State Supplemental Budgets

As with any session, we had to pass the three state government spending plans: the operating, transportation, and capital budgets. This year’s budgets are considered supplemental budgets, which are adjusted based on the states emerging issues and needs that have come to light since the original budgets passed last year. Here’s a brief recap of each.

Supplemental Operating Budget: Unfortunately, this budget does not represent a bipartisan effort, and without having any real voice in the process, I joined with all other House Republicans and voted “no.” This budget does some good things, but it fails to offer any tax relief for Washingtonians and continues to spend money at a record level. This spending is fiscally irresponsible, unsustainable, and leaves very little in reserve. The budget has more than doubled over the last decade, while there continues to be no relief for middle-class families. When times get tough, state government should tighten its belt just like Washingtonians are being asked to do.

Supplemental Transportation Budget: This budget did have bipartisan input, and I voted “yes.” The supplemental transportation budget allocates an additional $1.1 billion on top of last year’s $13.5 billion. It prioritizes maintenance and preservation investments, focuses on enhancing highway safety, and addresses the recruitment and retention of Washington State Patrol officers.

The budget discussions were subject to significant pressures, including revenue constraints, project demands, and other challenges. As a result, it required several hard choices and bipartisan agreements. In addition to the $12.4 million in funding for transportation projects in the 17th District we secured last year, we added more than a $1 million this year for important transportation projects, including $800,000 for Lasher Street renovations and another $250,000 for an update to the Camas Slough.

The budget also includes $600 million for the I-5 bridge replacement project which reflects the additional funding received from the federal government grant. Lastly, there is another $10 million for the Hood River Bridge replacement.

Supplemental Capital Budget: This is a bipartisan effort to fund projects throughout the state. The final 2024-25 supplemental capital budget will spend $1.33 billion, including more than $21 million of funding for 17th District projects, on top of the $19.3 million allocated last year. For a complete list of our local projects, click here and select the 17th Legislative District in the drop down window and then hit the “view report” button.

We also helped secure funding for a new youth recovery center in the neighboring 18th Legislative District that will impact people in the 17th as well. The Madrona Recovery Center, which received $16.2 million in funding, will feature 54 new beds for youth with behavioral health and substance abuse disorders.

Update on My Legislation

I was fortunate to get a bill through to the governor’s desk this session, which is extremely important for our district and all Southwest Washington. House Bill 2482, which is waiting for the governor’s signature, will extend two tax preferences for semiconductor manufacturing until Jan. 1, 2034, and reinstate six tax preferences that expired on Jan. 1, 2024, until Jan. 1, 2034.

We have two semiconductor manufacturers in Southwest Washington that together provide more than 3,000 jobs to our communities. They both operate in a global economy and need to stay competitive in a world market. This bill will help them do that and keep these important jobs in our area. Because it contains an emergency clause, the bill takes effect immediately. Click here to learn more and click on the image below to watch my floor speech on final passage.

Thank You and Please Stay in Touch

Thank you again for allowing me to represent you in the Legislature. I’m here to listen, and I hope you will continue reaching out to me throughout the interim. I want to represent you the best I can, so please stay in touch by using the contact info below.

It’s an honor to serve.

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