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Dear Friends,

The historic 2024 legislative session adjourned sine die on March 7. The short, 60-day session was very fast-paced. Lawmakers seemed to try to pack the same amount of work into the short sessions as they do the long, 105-day sessions.

That said, we were able to accomplish some good things this year. However, like any session there were also some disappointments. In this update I will review what happened with the initiatives, provide an overview of the budgets, and breakdown the legislation I sponsored this session.

Three initiatives passed into law

How historic was it that the Legislature passed three initiatives? Since Washington adopted the initiative and referendum process in 1912, citizens have attempted 1,728 initiatives to the Legislature, with only 38 getting certified and sent to the Legislature. And only six times has the Legislature adopted an initiative. For us to get three of six initiatives passed this session is a great win for the citizens of Washington.

Initiatives passed by the Legislature:

  • I-2113 will restore police authority to pursue fleeing suspects. Since 2021, when the majority party passed HB 1054, crime has skyrocketed. This misguided policy has directly contributed to our state’s public safety crisis.
  • I-2081 establishes parental rights in K-12 education. The Parents’ Bill of Rights will increase transparency and ensure that public schools share with parents any records relating to their child as well as instructional materials used in the classroom. 
  • I-2111 prohibits further efforts to impose an income tax. With our state’s affordability crisis, this will protect people from any future plans for the majority party to impose personal income taxes at any level. 

We fought for public hearings on the other three initiatives. However, the majority party never scheduled any hearings, and no action was taken on them. Those three initiatives advance to the November ballot, and Washington voters will decide if they pass or not. Initiatives headed to the ballot:

  • I-2117: Repealing the Climate Commitment Act, or carbon tax.
  • I-2124: Opting out of the state long-term care insurance program/payroll tax. 
  • I-2109: Repealing the capital gains tax.

Operating budget

The operating budget passed on party lines in the House. Very little changed from the first spending plan we passed out of the House a few weeks ago. House Republicans voted “no” for several reasons:

  • The budget has more than doubled over the last 10 years.
  • It increased spending by about $2 billion in a “supplemental” budget year. The 2014 supplemental budget increased spending by $200 million.
  • It provides no tax relief for middle-class families despite being one of the least affordable states in the country. (#3 for gas prices, #4 for grocery prices, #4 for housing crisis.)
  • It spreads spending over 1,000 separate line items instead of focusing on key priorities.

Capital budget

Sen. Jeff Wilson, Rep. Jim Walsh and I secured more than $26.3 million in 19th District projects in the 2024 supplemental capital budget. Click here to read our news release. Or, check out the project list below:

19th District projects include:

  • Chehalis Wellness Center renovation: $3 million
  • Quinault Indian Nation Wellness Center expansion: $7.8 million
  • Raymond Manor low-income senior housing: $1.5 million
  • Coastal CAP fire remodel: $515,000
  • Commercial platform lift: $17,000
  • Kelso Rotary Park: $72,000
  • Lake Sacajawea irrigation pump: $200,000
  • Lincoln Creek Grange #407: $81,000
  • Wahkiakum PUD – Puget Island water source project: $309,000
  • Lower Columbia College softball facilities: $700,00
  • Julia Butler Hansen property analysis: $30,000
  • Cowlitz County PUD landfill methane capture: $4.9 million
  • Berwick Creek at Labree Fish Passage: $1.102 million
  • Erick Creek Fish Passage Project: $1.748 million
  • Scammon Creek at Graf Fish Passage: $908,000
  • Middle Nemah River Phase 1 restoration: $1.021 million
  • Willapa Estuary Juv. Habitat assess restoration: $1.8 million

Public Schools

  • PG Evaline: $16,000
  • PG Naselle Grays River Valley: $24,000

For a complete list of 19th District projects in the capital budget, click here.
To review budget documents, click here.

Bills to be signed by the governor

Last week, the governor signed my House Bill 2004, which requires higher education institutions to provide early course registration for eligible military members and dependents. The new law will allow early course registration for students who are eligible veterans, National Guard members, active duty military members, and their spouses, domestic partners, and dependents.

The policy was previously in state law but expired in 2022. House Bill 2004 will make it permanent and add dependents. Providing early registration for our military and their dependents is the least we can do for those who serve their country and put their lives on the line to keep us safe.

House Bill 2381 is on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. I expect it to be signed at any time. The bill would authorize the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to increase the number of schools with fewer than 1,000 students that could be eligible for a flexible school calendar. This has worked well with other schools, so the legislation would expand the amount of waivers available.

Youngest legislator in Washington history

As I mentioned earlier, it was a historic legislative session. Not only did the Legislature pass three initiatives, but we also witnessed the youngest-serving legislator in Washington state history, possibly U.S. history.

You may be aware that I missed the last few days of the legislative session because I was called away for military service.

My stepdaughter, Lilian Hale, served as a temporary proxy for me. Washington state allows a temporary successor to be appointed for legislators on leave for military service or military training. Family members have served in this role for other lawmakers who have been called away for military service.

However, Lilian turned 18 on Thursday, March 7, the day she was sworn in, making her the youngest serving legislator in Washington state history and, as far as we could tell, she is also the youngest serving legislator in U. S. history. I appreciate her filling in for me and making history while doing it.

Rep. Lilian Hale, takes the oath of office from Chief Justice Steven C. Gonzalez.

Stay in touch

While the Legislature has adjourned, please keep in mind I am your legislator year-round. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments you may have about the legislative session or our state government. Your input and feedback are important to me.

It is an honor to serve the great people of the 19th District!

Your Humble Servant,

Joel McEntire

State Representative Joel McEntire, 19th Legislative District
409 John L. O’Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7870 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000