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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session is now in the history books. We adjourned sine die last night, March 7, around 5:30 p.m. after passing supplemental operating and transportation budgets earlier in the day. It was an intense 60-day session. Short sessions usually are, because lawmakers try to pack as many things as they can in the two months, as opposed to odd-year sessions when the Legislature meets for 105 days. For example, there were a total of 201 House bills (52 of them were House Republican-sponsored) and 180 Senate bills that passed the Legislature and have been signed into law or delivered to the governor. That’s remarkable for a short session!

Grateful to you, and honored to serve!

In this update, I’d like to provide a brief recap of the successes and disappointments of the 2024 session. However, before I do, I just want to say thank you! Thank you to all of you who contacted my office with your questions, comments, concerns, and advice. Thank you to all of you who made the long trip over here to visit with me and to testify in our committees. Thank you to all of you who participated in our virtual town hall, subscribed to this e-newsletter, watched the proceedings live on TVW, testified remotely on my bills, and submitted your written testimony. Your involvement and participation made a difference. And I am so honored to be representing you and the people of the 9th District — quite candidly in my view, the best district in the state!

This week’s photo guest is Stacey Zimmerman, a member of AgForestry Leadership’s Class 45. Stacey is a wheat farmer from Harrington. It was wonderful to visit with her between voting on bills.

2024 session review – The highlights

Three supplemental budgets were passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor this week that make mid-course corrections to the two-year spending plans we originally adopted last year.

Operating budget: The 2024 supplemental operating budget increases spending to nearly $72 billion. There are some good things in this new spending plan. It increases spending for special education, childcare, and behavioral health statewide. It also includes $30 million in one-time payments to support farm fuel users and transporters who have purchased fuel for agricultural purposes that are exempt from the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). That’s at least some help to our farmers who were promised they would not have to pay the fuel increases resulting from the CCA.

I was disappointed that with an influx of nearly $3 billion coming to the state from taxpayers, majority lawmakers did not provide tax relief. We didn’t raise taxes, but certainly some of that money could have been returned to taxpayers who are struggling with high gas, grocery, and power bills.

Unfortunately, because this budget continues to grow the government without regard to struggling taxpayers, I could not support it.

Transportation budget: The 2024 supplemental transportation budget provides an additional $1.1 billion for a total of $14.6 billion for statewide transportation projects. This bipartisan budget adds nearly $100 million to maintenance and preservation to fix crumbling roads, bridges, and highways. It also increases funding for the Washington State Patrol, including longevity bonuses for troopers who have worked for 26 years or more, as an incentive to keep them on a little longer. Locally, we were able to secure $2.575 million for the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport terminal and runway realignment project. I voted for this budget.

Capital budget: The 2024 supplemental capital budget spends $1.33 billion on schools, public buildings, behavioral and mental health facilities, parks, low-income housing, water infrastructure, and habitat. It also provides just over $30 million for projects in the 9th District, including improvements to the Davenport Senior Center, rehabilitation of the Latah Water System, preservation of the RTOP Theatre in Pullman, money for the Knott Dairy Center digester at WSU, improvements to eight schools in our district, funding for the Odessa pipeline, improvements to Tekoa Parks and Recreation and the Tristate Health Hospital in Clarkston.

Big news this week: Three citizens’ initiatives to the Legislature passed on Monday

We fought for public hearings on all six initiatives, but the majority party decided to send the other three to the November ballot for Washington voters to decide. These include:

Bad bills prevented from becoming law

We were able to stop several bad bills from passing the Legislature. They include:

  • Senate Bill 5770: This bill would have tripled the growth rate of state and local property taxes by increasing the cap from 1% to 3%.
  • Senate Bill 5241: We stopped a hospital/health care consolidation bill that would have hurt rural health care.
  • House Bill 2114: Rent control.

Unfortunately, a few bad bills got through

  • House Bill 1589: This Puget Sound Energy natural gas bill will make utility bills more expensive and lead to the elimination of natural gas services.
  • Senate Bill 6058: Linking Washington’s carbon market to California and Quebec. This could lead to even higher energy prices.
  • House Bill 2118: Establishes additional requirements for the business operations of licensed firearms dealers.

More work to be done

At the beginning of the session, House Republicans outlined several issues that we wanted to address to fix Washington. Those included: Affordability, public safety, K-12 education, housing and homelessness, drugs, and childcare. While we were able to make in-roads on several of these issues, there are still many challenges remaining. You can view our plan to fix Washington here.

I work for you throughout the year  

I am excited to return home to Eastern Washington and be with friends, family, and neighbors. However, I work for you throughout the year, not just when the Legislature is in session. Please reach out to my office if you have questions, comments, or ideas about state government. You’ll find my contact information below. And maybe I’ll see you soon in one of our local parades! Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!

Sincerely,


Joe Schmick

State Representative Joe Schmick, 9th Legislative District
RepresentativeJoeSchmick.com
426B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7844 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000