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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Hold on to your hat! The 2024 legislative session started on Monday, Jan. 8. We’re in for an eventful journey. The 60-day session, set to conclude on Thursday, March 7, will influence the destiny of Washington state. It’s not just politics; it’s the unfolding of our future.

My responsibility is to keep you informed. Throughout the session, consider me your guide through the intricacies of Olympia. I’ll break down the discussions, analyze policy debates, and highlight the bills that hold significance for our region and state. Stay ahead of the curve by checking my legislative website — your go-to source for the latest news and information directly from the state Capitol. Or visit my legislative Facebook page to stay in the loop about my efforts on behalf of our district and the state.

Revving Up for 2024: Governor’s address sparks call for real solutions

The 2024 session kicked off last week, highlighted by the governor’s State of the State address. The speech was disappointing, to say the least — marked by a noticeable absence of acknowledgment on several issues that have escalated to crisis levels in our state. We need real solutions, not platitudes.

The crime problem in Washington demands immediate action. Our state government must reinstate the effective “reasonable suspicion” standard for police pursuits instead of the current approach supported by the governor. The surge in crime rates across Washington requires tangible solutions, not empty rhetoric that does nothing to enhance the safety of our neighborhoods.

Moreover, we must create a more supportive environment for law enforcement. We need to dispel Washington’s “anti-cop” reputation by introducing reason into our state laws regarding police officers. Above all, Washington must repeal the governor’s disastrous cap-and-trade tax scheme. This misguided policy adversely affects working people and families in the state.

Despite the governor’s promises of reducing pollution in his farewell speech, carbon pollution has worsened during his term. Failed initiatives like the “Climate Commitment Act” (CCA) fall short of making any real impact on pollution reduction. The people of Washington deserve more effective policies.

You can delve more into my response to the governor’s State of the State address here.

Initiative 2113 and Initiative 2117 introduced to the Legislature

In the aftermath of the governor’s disappointing address last week, two significant new proposals have emerged into the spotlight. Secretary of State Steve Hobbs has announced the completion of signature verification for I-2113, a proposal to amend the state’s contentious police pursuit law. Additionally, Initiative 2117, which aims to repeal the CCA and the cap-and-trade program, has also successfully completed signature verification.

These common-sense measures have received widespread support across the state and should be given the due attention they deserve. This isn’t about politics; it’s about doing what’s right. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be rallying Olympia’s lawmakers to get behind these initiatives.

The state Constitution is crystal clear — initiatives of the people take top priority. This isn’t a suggestion; it’s a constitutional imperative. And I-2113 and I-2117 aren’t just any proposals; they are an opportunity for Olympia to make tangible, positive changes at the request of the people of Washington. Plus, with no need to seek the outgoing governor’s approval, lawmakers can establish these initiatives as the law of the land without his signature.

More on how cap-and-trade fails Washington consumers

The cap-and-trade program, promised by our current governor and his policy team to cost Washingtonian motorists mere pennies at the gas pump, has instead led to a staggering increase in gas prices across our state. Contrary to expectations, fuel costs have risen by 50 cents per gallon or more, tripling the expense for consumers compared to what the Legislature was initially informed.

Over the past few months, revenue from cap-and-trade has significantly surpassed expectations, accumulating more than $1.5 billion in state revenue so far. Projections suggest an excess of over a billion dollars by the next fiscal year. Unfortunately, these costs are being transferred to consumers, impacting us directly.

Compounding the issue, the cap-and-trade program lacks coverage under the 18th Amendment to the state Constitution, which governs the state’s gas tax. Unlike gas tax revenue, which is restricted to “highway purposes,” cap-and-trade funds can be diverted to other various uses. Consequently, Washington motorists are not witnessing the construction of replacement roads and bridges with this money, and the impact on our roads and highways remains minimal.

Adding to the concern, the cap-and-trade program, in a technical sense, doesn’t ensure a pollution reduction; it simply assigns a price to emissions and sets a limit on the total allowable amount. The ability for companies to trade emission allowances may shift pollution around but doesn’t necessarily lead to a decrease in overall pollution levels.

Ideally, I prefer eliminating the cap-and-trade program entirely, saving working Washingtonians hundreds of dollars each year. Another proposal would provide a modest rebate to motorists, which is a positive step, but it falls short. In case the CCA is not repealed, I’ve introduced legislation, HB 1904, which proposes redirecting revenue from the CCA to support high-cost hybrid ferries. This strategy aims to use gas tax dollars more efficiently by prioritizing highway, road preservation, and maintenance projects.

My bill aims to alter AG’s authority to send checks in his name

You may have recently received a check in the mail courtesy of Washington’s State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson. The cash comes from the settlement of a chicken and tuna fish price-fixing lawsuit, with over 440,000 Washingtonians slated to receive their share. The total settlement amounts to a whopping $40.6 million, Washingtonians can qualify if their income is at or below 175% of the federal poverty level, which is $52,000 for a family of four.

However, the attorney general’s approach to dispersing checks has raised significant concerns. Shockingly, many of these checks have been sent to deceased residents. It’s also worth noting that every single check bears Ferguson’s name — a move that seems highly questionable, especially considering he is currently a candidate for governor.

Enter HB 2183, my proposed solution to this mess. This bill aims to amend state statutes, explicitly prohibiting elected officials from attaching their name to remittances resulting from a lawsuit. Let’s ensure a fair and transparent distribution of funds without unnecessary controversies. It’s time for a change, and HB 2183 is the way forward.

Here are a handful of other bills I’ve introduced this session:

  • HB 2399 aims to establish a system for receiving, considering, and addressing written complaints about library materials.
  • HB 2398 seeks to include parental representation on instructional materials committees.
  • HB 1827 addresses the prevention of vaccination status discrimination.
  • HB 1871 proposes that the Washington state ferries may not require any person hired on or after the effective date, or any prospective employee, to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.
  • For a complete list of my bills, click here.

Bill to end child marriage in Washington state

In a recent floor debate, I strongly advocated for House Bill 1455, which would eliminate child marriage in Washington state. The primary objective of this bill is to stop the possibility of court-sanctioned marriages under the age of 18 in specific cases. In my address, I underscored the bill’s recognition that certain decisions, like choosing to marry, are beyond the capacity of children. The legislation is designed to safeguard their childhood by preventing such marriages.

However, it’s important to note that lawmakers should maintain consistency in protecting childhood across all state statutes. Public policy needs to exhibit coherence. While we aim to restrict marriage for children, it’s inconsistent to permit them to make decisions regarding medical procedures that can cause irreversible harm. This lack of philosophical and intellectual consistency needs addressing in our approach to safeguarding the well-being of children.

Five gun restriction measures face scrutiny in Olympia

This week at the state Capitol, the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee addressed five gun restriction measures: HB 1902, HB 1903, HB 2021, HB 2054, and HB 2118. To hear my response to these constitutionally questionable proposals, check out the attached video below.

You are invited: 19th District Virtual Town Hall

Join me, along with Sen. Jeff Wilson and Rep. Joel McEntire, as we co-host the 19th District Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. This virtual event will be hosted on Zoom. I encourage you to register today as space is limited. And finally, don’t miss the opportunity to pre-submit your questions on bills and debates happening in Olympia when you register. I’m eager to hear from you!

Influencing legislation for our region’s values

Our region’s values resonate most powerfully in Olympia when we stand united. Joining forces amplifies our impact in championing good policies and preventing the approval of bad ones. Whether you’re providing input on bills, delivering remote or in-person testimony, or simply sharing your thoughts, every action makes a difference. Check out the variety of resources and links below to help you actively participate in the legislative process. Together, let’s make our voices heard!

Here are some resources to get you started:

Thank you!

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks as we join forces to ignite change during this legislative session. Your ongoing support is deeply appreciated. Together, we are shaping a brighter future for the 19th District and building a stronger Washington state!


Jim Walsh

State Representative Jim Walsh, 19th Legislative District
428 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7806 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000