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Dear Neighbor,

The 2024 legislative session convenes in eight weeks. This will be a short, 60-day sprint during which the Legislature will make adjustments and additions to the previously adopted two-year budget.  

With the brevity of the session, I’ll do my best to provide everyone with the most up-to-date information as we work to make Washington safer and more affordable.  

Don’t forget to take my fall legislative survey

I greatly appreciate the more than 300 constituents who’ve filled out my fall legislative survey (you can view the results here). I am here to represent your voice – that’s why it’s so important that I hear from you about your legislative priorities.

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to fill it out by clicking here. I will keep it open until December 1st and then share the final results with everyone in a future update.

Veterans deserve our help

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month when we recognize veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice to our nation. The freedoms we so often take for granted are secure because brave men and women are willing to put on the uniform and defend them. Please don’t forget to thank a veteran – it’s the least we can do. 

This year, I sponsored House Bill 1005 to extend and double the existing tax credits for employers who hire veterans and veteran spouses. Sadly, House Democrats allowed the credit to expire by failing to bring the bill up for a vote.

Helping veterans and local businesses should have been a top priority during the 2023 session. Veterans and their families have already given so much to our community – this policy helps them with financial security and helps business fill much needed positions with highly qualified individuals.

In the upcoming session, we should bring this effort to the forefront and do the right thing for our veterans and military families. This is not a partisan issue and should not be treated as such. We have so many talented and experienced military families and small businesses that can benefit from the incentives in this program. Active military, reservists, veterans, and their families should be recognized for their sacrifices made both domestic and abroad.

Applications are open for the Washington State House Page Program

Applications for the Washington State House of Representatives Page Program opened on November 1st.

I was thrilled with the turnout we saw from our local students in 2023, and I look forward to that same level of enthusiasm in 2024. Serving as a page can be an important part of a student’s education and life experience.  

Pages work for one 40-hour work week assisting House members with a variety of duties, including serving on the chamber floor, making deliveries throughout campus, supporting member offices, and attending Page School.  

Eight different weekly opportunities are available for the 60-day legislative session, which begins Jan. 8 and ends March 7. When applying, potential pages can select which weeks they are available to work.

Eligible students must be at least 14 years of age and have not reached their 17th birthday. Pages earn a stipend of $65 per day and can also earn up to 20 hours of community service.

Students interested in participating next year can find more information about the program at Leg.Wa.Gov/House/Pages/HousePageProgram.aspx.

Applicants who need financial assistance for the expense of traveling and staying in Olympia may also apply for the Gina Grant Bull Memorial Legislative Page Scholarship, which helps to offset expenses. Applications for the scholarship can be found at: https://leg.wa.gov/PageSchool/pages/ginagrantbullscholarship.aspx

Please contact my office if you have any questions.

Washington State among big winners of $7 billion federal clean hydrogen hub program

Hydrogen projects in the 20th Legislative District could soon see federal funding after the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement today that the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association’s (PNWH2) Hub was selected for award negotiations as one of the nation’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs.

I am thrilled for our local project leaders and the State of Washington on successfully securing these investments and I look forward to seeing these federal dollars investing in clean hydrogen projects right here in the 20th District. Washington State produces hydrogen with fossil fuels. These projects will boost that capacity through a cleaner process.

I have the privilege of serving as the co-chair of the Hydrogen Caucus, ranking member on the Capital Budget Committee, and as a member on the House Environment and Energy Committee – all three positions allow me opportunities to advance hydrogen technology in Washington State.  

USA Fortescue Future Industries, Inc. plans to build a green hydrogen production facility in Centralia near the TransAlta coal-fired power plant and Twin Transit wants Washington’s first hydrogen fueling station to be built in Chehalis.

Both projects are included under the PNWH2 Hub.

These federal dollars will create jobs, offer priority hiring programs for former coal industry workers, and invest more than $4 million in the Centralia College training center for worker training.  

Linking Washington’s carbon market to California and Quebec

On November 2nd, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) announced it would seek an agreement to link the state’s cap-and-trade program with the California-Quebec market. I have major concerns that this could mean even higher energy prices for Washington consumers.

Washington should not be trying to emulate California. California has the highest gas prices in the nation, with Washington close on their heels. I recently visited California and experienced firsthand their sky-high gasoline prices. That’s what will continue to happen to Washington under this linkage plan.

California has some of the highest energy prices, the highest housing prices, and some of the most regressive taxes and regulations in the nation. Other states, including Washington, have been the recipient of the mass exodus of California residents moving to escape the disastrous policies of that state. It makes no sense that we would link up with California and replicate their outrageous costs of food, energy, and daily living. This also sends us further down a rabbit hole in which we lose control of our own policies by tying ourselves to other states. Do we really want California dictating policy for Washington state?

We should be focusing on policies that make it easier for people to afford their bills, feed their families, and purchase gasoline to get to work. The Department of Ecology wildly understated the cost of carbon auctions, which are more than three times higher than the DOE predicted. Now this state agency wants us to trust them and their predictions of linking up with the highest-cost state in the nation? This will only cost Washington working families more in the long run.

District school tours

On Wednesday, I met with superintendents, facility directors, and other officials during a tour of schools in the Woodland and Ridgefield school districts.

Our first stop was Woodland Middle School, which hasn’t received state funding since the early 1990s. Officials told me the district needs a fourth elementary as well as significant upgrades to all or part of these schools.

Next, we toured Columbia Elementary School. Officials here would have a plan to move grade 5 back to the elementary school level and the district expects in the next five years to have more than 670 new housing units.

We capped off the tour with a visit to Ridgefield High School. This school has both new and old construction. With a lack of bond funding, the district has taken a phased approach to upgrades.

From left to right: Phil Partington, Southwest regional coordinator, OSPI school facilities and organization; Mitch Denning, WAMOA consultant; Tyler Muench, director, advocacy and external affairs/governmental relations, OSPI; Steve Williams, PSC Structural, Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) representative; Don Luthardt, Johannson Wing Architects, American Institute of Architects, Washington Council (AIAWA) representative; Chris Griffith, interim superintendent, Ridgefield School District; Rep. Peter Abbarno; and Tiffany Gould, director College/Career and Technical Education and federal programs.

Career and technical educational tour

On October 25th, I – along with Reps.Stephanie McClintockGreg Cheney, and Joel McEntire – visited Lower Columbia CollegeCascadia Tech Academy (operated by nine local school districts and located in the Evergreen School District) and Prairie High School (Battle Ground School District), as part of a House Capital Budget Committee tour to evaluate the regional coordination of the development of facilities for career and technical education.

Workforce development is one of my top priorities. The State of Washington must help prepare our students for the workforce of today, tomorrow, and into the future. Touring three different styles of career and technical education helps our committee develop policies unique to their industry, community, and student needs.”

From left to right: Rep. Greg Cheney; Rep. Joel McEntire; Rep. Peter Abbarno; and Rep. Stephanie McClintock

In the news

I work for you year-round

Whether we’re in regular session, special session, or during the interim, I work for you year-round. Please call, write, or email me if you have questions, comments or suggestions about government. I am here to serve and represent you!

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to be your voice during the 2023 legislative session.


Peter Abbarno

State Representative Peter Abbarno, 20th Legislative District
411 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(564) 888-2492 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000