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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session has ended, and what a whirlwind it was. During these 60-days, we introduced and considered more than 1600 bills in the House and Senate. By the time we wrapped up on March 7, we sent nearly 400 bills to the governor’s desk to become law, including one of my pieces of legislation. Here’s a recap of some of the major news from Olympia this year.

State Housing Crisis Continues

As the ranking Republican in the Housing Committee, I have a front-row seat to the damaging effects of Washington’s affordable housing crisis. We passed a few good policies during session, but unfortunately, the Legislature still hasn’t done enough to help struggling families and individuals. While the majority party pushed another rent control bill, House Republicans offered real solutions that would fix the housing crisis and help renters now and in the future. Ultimately, none of these bills passed, leaving Washingtonians with more uncertainty going forward.

Additionally, my legislation, House Bill 2008, would’ve created a legislative task force to analyze housing cost drivers to get to the root of the housing crisis problem by determining what factors truly drive housing costs in Washington. We must understand the causes before we can resolve them. HB-2008 had full bipartisan support in the Housing Committee but was never heard in the Appropriations Committee and didn’t receive a vote.

Update on My Legislation

I introduced a few other bills this session and one of them made it to the governor, which he signed into law last Thursday. House Bill 2428 allows cities and towns to voluntarily enter interlocal agreements to share a portion of general-purpose local government sales and use tax revenue. This is a simple bill on paper, but it will be a big deal for our cities, towns, and communities.

Currently, cities rely heavily on sales tax, and neighboring cities and towns often compete for the same revenue. This bill removes that competition and allows for a joint pursuit of goals through voluntary interlocal agreements. This will help promote the combining of projects and the use of existing infrastructure and give a boost to smaller cities and towns throughout Washington.

I also introduced House Bill 2252, which would have required cities and towns to allow business establishments, such as cafes and small grocers that meet certain requirements, to be permitted in residential zones. This legislation would foster community engagement, create public gatherings places, and make our neighborhoods and communities feel safer and more connected.

The House unanimously passed HB 2252, but unfortunately, the Senate gutted the bill with an amendment, and ultimately, both chambers could not come to an agreement, so the bill died. However, I plan to bring it back next session to get it over the hump. Use the links below to read some of the media coverage about this bill:

The Seattle Times: WA won’t legalize cafes in residential neighborhoods, lawmakers decide
KNKX/NPR: Popular bill to expand neighborhood businesses in WA appears dead
The Urbanist: Washington Senate Committee Guts Popular Neighborhood Cafe Bill
Fox 28: Bill relaxing zoning requirements for small businesses before Washington Senate

Three of the Six Statewide Initiatives to Become Law

Now to the six statewide initiatives certified by the Secretary of State in January. The Legislature held public hearings for and ultimately passed three of the six initiatives. This is a huge win for Washingtonians. I supported these measures and am pleased the Legislature listened to the people of Washington. These will become law later this year.

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.

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.

Initiative2111 will prohibit state and local personal income taxes at any level. Many people are struggling with the current affordability crisis. 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.

Unfortunately, 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. The voters will determine the fate of these three initiatives when they vote in November.

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

State Supplemental Budgets

As you may already know, the state operates with three primary budgets: operating, transportation, and capital. In even-numbered years, lawmakers implement changes to the existing spending plans, known as “supplemental budgets.” These adjustments allocate funding for the latter part of the state’s two-year budget cycle, essentially serving as corrections or modifications to the originally enacted budgets.

Let’s start with the supplemental capital budget, the biennial construction, repair, and infrastructure funding plan, which appropriates $1.33 billion in additional funding. Together with my seatmates, Sen. Perry Dozier and Rep. Skyler Rude, we helped secure nearly $11 million in funding for the 16th Legislative District for several projects, including:

  • $1.5 million for the Columbia Valley Center for Recovery, on top of the $5 million allocated for it in 2023.
  • $2.55 million for the Lions Park Community Center.
  • $175,000 for the YWCA Walla Walla Childcare Center.
  • $105,000 for the new Prosser Clubhouse.
  • $98,000 for resurfacing and revitalizing the Prescott public pool.
  • $100,000 for the new Waitsburg Childcare Center.
  • $1.13 million for College Place Fire Department energy-efficiency upgrades.
  • $4.6 million for fire protection and smoke dampers at the Washington State Penitentiary’s Intensive Management Unit.
  • $196,000 million for designing the Mill Creek fish passage from Colville Street to Third Avenue in Walla Walla.

As a member of the Transportation Committee, I worked closely with both sides of the aisle to create a bipartisan supplemental transportation budget. The final version of this 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.

In addition to last year’s money, we secured another $2.2 million for the SR 224/Red Mountain vicinity improvement project in this year’s budget. This is important for our district, so I’m happy to see this project included in the transportation package.

Lastly, we passed the supplemental operating budget, but unfortunately, I couldn’t support this spending package. For starters, I’m disappointed that House Republicans weren’t included more in the negotiations. We represent significant portions of the state, and our communities deserve representation in these discussions.

Additionally, while the absence of new taxes in this budget is positive, there is still no tax relief for struggling Washingtonians. Lawmakers have had multiple opportunities to enact meaningful tax relief in recent budget cycles but have chosen not to.

Thank You for Your Support!

Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Olympia. Remember, I represent you throughout the entire year, not just during the legislative session. So, if you have any input, questions, or concerns, please reach out to me by using the contact info below.

It’s an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,


Mark Klicker

State Representative Mark Klicker, 16th Legislative District
representativemarkklicker.com
410 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mark.klicker@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000