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Dear Neighbor,

Here at the beginning of week five of the 2024 session, the Legislature has been debating bills around the clock ahead of House of origin cutoff on Tuesday, Feb. 13. That’s the deadline to pass policy bills out of their chamber of origin.

The House will be passing House bills to the Senate and the Senate will be passing their bills to the House. After cutoff, both chambers will be back to hearing policy bills in committee.

We need public hearings on the initiatives

We’re more than halfway through the 60-day session, and yet the Democratic majority has not held any public hearings on the six initiatives signed by over 800,000 Washingtonians.

I want to hear what you think. Please take a few moments to fill out my six question survey on what you believe the Legislature should do with the initiatives.

  1. Initiative 2113 would fully restore the ability of law enforcement officers to engage in vehicular pursuit. 
  2. Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, the state’s new carbon tax program.
  3. Initiative 2081 would establish a parental bill of rights, so that parents would have authority over their child’s school and medical records.
  4. Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains tax.  
  5. Initiative 2111 would prohibit state and local personal income taxes in Washington state.
  6. Initiative 2124 would allow people to opt out of the new state-run, long-term-care program.

The Legislature has three choices:

  • Approve the initiatives;
  • Offer alternative measures that would appear on the ballot in November alongside the initiatives; or
  • Do nothing, in which case voters would decide whether to approve or reject the initiatives in November.

Article II, Section I of the Washington State Constitution states clear:

“Initiative measures, whether certified or provisionally certified, shall take precedence over all other measures in the legislature except appropriation bills…”

Call to action to help our Veterans

Last session, the majority party missed a major missed opportunity to help our veterans by failing to pass House Bill 1005. This measure would have extended and doubled the veteran-hire tax credits that were allowed to expire last July 1.

The bill has been stuck in the House Rules Committee since Feb. 17, 2023. You can email members of the Rules Committee or submit a comment in support of the bill by clicking here.

My legislation would have provided tax credits for employers who hire a veteran, spouse of a veteran, or spouse of an active-duty military member for a full-time position for at least two consecutive full-calendar quarters.

Veterans and their families have already given so much to our community – let’s give them a hand up.

Streamline financing of SW Washington Fairgrounds Park

On Friday, the House unanimously passed House Bill 2433. This bill, sponsored by my seatmate Rep. Ed Orcutt, would help streamline the financing of the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds Park.

The Southwest Washington Fair has its roots back to the late 1800s and was formed for the purpose of advancing agriculture. This year’s theme is “red, white, and moo,’ and I look forward to seeing folks there Aug. 13-18.

There are so many other events throughout the year at the fairgrounds; it truly embodies the history and tradition of our community.    

The bill would be a small change with a big impact: it would allow Lewis County to maintain upkeep of the fairgrounds throughout the year.

Radical pro-criminal proposals

During the 2023 and 2024 sessions, we saw more pro-criminal policies from the majority party. I highlighted three egregious examples in a recent video:

  • House Bill 1268 would reduce penalties for gang and drug related crimes in protected zones like schools and bus stops.
  • House Bill 2030 would allow convicted criminals to serve as jurors, vote, and run for elected office while in prison.
  • House Bill 2177 would require a convicted sex offender to serve on the state sex offender policy board.

The proposals are so radical that I’ve received skeptical feedback from some folks in complete disbelief. Sadly, I can assure you that these are real proposals and represent a concerning shift in favor of criminals over victims.

Two legislative pages from the 20th District

Page Gracie Elam. Jan. 26, 2024.
Page Yesenia Carbajal Mendez. Feb. 1, 2024

Gracie Elam, a W.F. West High School student, and Yesenia Carbajal Mendez, a Rochester Middle School student, recently paged in the Washington State House of Representatives. As their proud sponsor, I can report they both did wonderful job assisting legislators and staff during their weeks at the Capitol.

Pages complete a 40-hour work week, which involved serving House members on the chamber floor, making deliveries throughout campus, supporting member offices, and attending Page School.

Page School supplements their hands-on learning experience with a classroom component geared toward understanding the legislative process.

During the 60-day session, there are eight different weekly opportunities to be a page between Jan. 8 and 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: leg.wa.gov/pageschool/pages/ginagrantbullscholarship.aspx

For more information, contact my Olympia office at (360) 786-7896.

I work for you year-round

If you have questions, comments or suggestions about government, please call, write, or email me. Don’t forget: I work for you all year.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to be your voice in Olympia.


Peter Abbarno

State Representative Peter Abbarno, 20th Legislative District
411 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7896 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000