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2024 Legislative Kickoff

Coalition Team Member
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What do you get when you put 11 chambers of commerce, 12 state electeds, and a whole bunch of former politicians in the same room?  A surprisingly productive guided discussion on the state of the state of Washington!

We started the Legislative Kick Off event with WA’s Secretary of State, Steve Hobbs, who dove into election security and the impact of malware on county auditor servers, and then moved onto our panels.

First up was Health, Housing, & Public Safety, with moderator and former Representative, Eric Pettigrew. Here’s the gist:

  • Providing services to help those currently unhoused — as well creating programs that can keep folks from falling into homelessness — were the main points made by the legislators when asked how we can best address the homelessness crisis in our region. Concerns were expressed about recent disruption at KCRHA, but the organization is a necessary partner and legislators are prepared to support it moving forward.
  • On the topic of the middle housing bill (HB 1110), Sen. Patty Kuderer recognized that implementation will be the most important part of the bill’s success, and said the legislature is working with cities across the state to find middle — read as: reasonable — ground.
  • The “Let’s Go Washington” initiatives were frequently touched on during both panels, with legislators discussing the likelihood of picking these topics up during session (not so likely) and the importance of the different issues being addressed (very important.) Climate Commitment Act funding, vehicle pursuit standards, and the oversight of parents in public school curriculum were deliberated.
  • Rep. Amy Walen is a small business owner on the Eastside, and gave an emotional testimony about the uptick in property crime and vandalism at her car dealerships. She said her employees have expressed feeling unsafe — particularly at her North Seattle store — and that something needs to be done for their sake.

Former State Senator Rodney Tom then took the reins, and welcomed up the next batch of legislators for the Budget & Business Climate panel. Again, here’s the rundown: 

  • When asked about our ballooning state budget, Sen. Bob Hasegawa explained that performance and growth — especially when looking at the stock market — are actually pretty similar between 2010 and now, with Rep. Drew Stokesbary chiming in to criticize the legislature for not lowering taxes during the pandemic as states like New York and California did.
  • The capital gains tax also made its way into conversation, with legislators like Rep. Stokesbary pointing out the incompatibility of our state’s interpretation versus that of every other state … and the federal government. Specifically, there was concern expressed over the fact that many large, taxable events and individuals have started moving out of state as a result.
  • Rep. Larry Springer broke down the highly-contentious long-term care tax, which he says was never properly created — or perhaps even intended — to provide holistic support and services for the individuals who qualify, and warned that if we do allow a permanent opt-out, the program will likely collapse. (Think Social Security, if it were optional.)
  • To close out the panel, moderator and former Sen. Tom encouraged all in attendance to regularly reach out to their legislators when important issues come up, even going as far to highlight Sen. Kuderer’s thoughtful and prompt responses when he contacts her.