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Dear Neighbor,

The 2024 legislative session adjourned, sine die, on Thursday – the constitutional 60-day deadline. Remarkably, Initiative 2113, restoring police pursuit; Initiative 2081 establishing a parental bill of rights; and Initiative 2111, banning personal state and local income taxes, passed the House and Senate and will become law in June.

Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who signed the initiatives, participated in public testimony, and got involved. You changed the course of history in our state. Passing these initiatives was a historic victory for the people of Washington.

Sadly, the Democratic majorities chose not to give the other three initiatives any public hearings.

  • Initiative 2124 would allow people to opt out of the new state-run, long-term-care program.
  • Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, the state’s new carbon tax program.
  • Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains tax.  

The fate of these three initiatives will be decided by the people in November.

Big investments in the 20th District

As the ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee, I had the privilege of serving as the lead Republican negotiator and author of the capital budget.  

The $1.33 billion spending plan invests heavily in K-12 school construction, mental health facilities, housing, and early learning facilities.

Thanks to the hard work and compromise of legislators in the House and Senate, this community-up, not Olympia-down, budget will make smart investments in communities across Washington state on bipartisan priorities like behavioral healthcare, substance abuse treatment facilities, K-12 education, and home ownership.

The high vote hurdle for borrowing money in the state’s constitution encourages Democrats and Republicans to work together. When we’re actively engaged in the decision-making process, the outcome serves the best interests of the entire state.

Investments to the 20th Legislative District include:

  • $5.446 million to replace and upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units in living units and workspaces at Green Hill School, which are at the end of their useful life.
  • $4.9 million for a Cowlitz PUD landfill methane capture project.
  • $1.950 million for the Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County’s United Learning Center.
  • These funds will help build a childcare center at the Boys & Girls Club to provide a safe and educational place for kids to learn and play.
  • $1.154 million for the Cascadia Tech Natural Resources Learning Center in Kalama in partnership with Kalama High School.
  • Once built, students will experience hands-on learning and workforce education.
  • $250,000 for remodeling the La Center Wheel Club Community Center, making needed improvements to allow the facility to hold more community events and classes.
  • $206,000 for the Southwest Washington Fair and Equestrian Center to design a new covered equestrian center and barns with a future goal of holding equestrian, 4-H, and rodeo events year-round.
  • $62,000 for a Kalama Community Building architectural survey to understand the scope and scale of preservation and renovation required to ensure its longevity.
  • This will measure the building’s mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems and conduct an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) feasibility survey.

For statewide highlights, read my press release here.

You can also find a full list of specific projects on the state’s budget website here.  

Another year without tax relief

Unlike the capital budget process, the operating budget remains highly partisan. The final operating budget appropriates $72 billion, a $2.2 billion increase over current 2023-25 spending.

I voted no because operating budget spending has more than doubled over the past 10 years and we have yet to see any meaningful tax relief for working families.

Transportation budget

I voted for this year’s supplemental transportation budget because it represented another bipartisan win that focuses on key statewide priorities. It adds $1.1 billion to the $13.5 billion allocated last year, with a focus on maintenance and preservation.

Other spending highlights include:

  • $600 million federal grant funding for the I-5 Interstate Replacement Bridge
  • $5.9 million for training and arming a third Washington State Trooper class;
  • $2 million additional funding for clean-up of encampments in highway rights-of-ways, which makes a total of $13.5 million for the biennium.
  • $1 million to implement HB 1989 for graffiti abatement to help fund a drone to paint walls.

Phasing out natural gas for Washington households

At 2 a.m. on March 5th, House Democrats narrowly passed a bill to phase out natural gas for Puget Sound Energy customers in Washington state by a vote of 50-45, while Washingtonians slept.

House Bill 1589 is one of the worst policies to pass the Legislature in recent years.

When families are struggling to make ends meet, this will make energy more expensive and less reliable.

Protecting your rights

Two anti-Second Amendment bills were passed by the majority party: Senate Bill 5444 (further restricting where you can legally carry) and House Bill 2118 (onerous new regulations on firearm businesses)

I stood up against these measures and spoke against them on the House floor.

Following a pattern we’ve seen for years, the majority stripped law-abiding citizens of their ability to protect themselves while, at the same time, introduced measures to reduce penalties for criminal activity:

  • House Bill 1268 would have reduced the sentences for gang, drug, and gun related crimes around schools and bus-stops;
  • House Bill 2030 would have allowed convicted murderers spending life in prison to vote, serve on a jury and hold public office;
  • House Bill 2177 would have required sex offenders to serve on a state sex offender policy board; and
  • House Bill 1396 would have reduced the sentences for aggravated first degree murder.

Disposing of human remains

Today, the governor signed House Bill 1974 into law. This is my legislation to add counties to the list of entities given that authority and would reduce the wait time from 90 to 30 days.

This is a simple good government bill that solves a serious problem in our state: mortuaries are running out of cooler space because current law requires them to keep human remains refrigerated for at least 90 days when no one claims responsibility for the body. This is particularly a problem in rural areas where resources are limited.

Many funeral homes have fewer than five employees, and the limited manpower and storage space make storage of the bodies a tremendous difficulty.  With improvements to technology and current operating systems, 30 days is plenty of time to notify families and provide authorization for disposition.

Emergency Help

I teamed up with Rep. Joe Timmons this year to sponsor House Bill 2020. This bipartisan legislation will create a public infrastructure assistance program within the state’s emergency management division. This change will help the state become better prepared to support local communities when natural disasters occur. 

As someone who lives in the City of Centralia in the Chehalis Basin, I’ve seen, first-hand, the financial, physical, and emotional damage catastrophic flooding and natural disaster events can cause. House Bill 2020 will provide significant resources to countless families throughout our region during these tragic events, as well as renewed hope and support.

The emergency medical reserve corps will operate within the state’s Department of Health and utilize a variety of experts that can assist during public health emergencies, including doctors, veterinarians, and behavioral health counselors. 

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.

Sincerely,


Peter Abbarno

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