Friends and neighbors,
We are more than two-thirds of the way through the 2023 legislative session and I am so pleased to have connected with many of you at our recent community townhall. My seatmates, Reps Lekanoff and Ramel, and I talked about our shared and individual priorities and heard from many of you with questions, comments, and ideas.
If you weren’t able to make it, you can still share your feedback. It is an important part of the democratic process. Stay in touch with us here, and follow along on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
I also encourage you to get involved by testifying in committee – which you can do remotely from the comfort of your home!
Rinse and Repeat: House bills now in the Senate
After bills pass off the floor of the Senate, they repeat the process in the House. In return, we consider House bills. Two pieces of legislation that I sponsored ‘companion bills’ for are on the move in my chamber:
HB 1181 makes critical updates to the Growth Management Act, requiring jurisdictions to incorporate the impacts of climate change as a component of comprehensive planning undertaken by our largest and fastest-growing cities and counties. We heard this bill in the committee I chair, the Senate Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs Committee, and we have passed it along to the Ways & Means Committee for a hearing on its fiscal impact. I have been proud to work on the team with Representative Davina Duerr (LD 5, Bothell) over the last few years to ensure we are planning for the communities of the future by lowering the footprint of our built environment, increasing housing and transit options for all, and ensuring we have resilient infrastructure able to withstand a changing climate.
HB 1789 enables the Department of Natural Resources to tap into a new source of revenue by accessing the state’s newly created carbon market enacted by the Climate Commitment Act. Selling credits for the carbon stored in our working forests, farms and waters can bring in more revenue for beneficiaries and increase the value of our state trust lands. In turn, it will provide funding to reforest areas impacted by wildfire, plant much-needed trees in urban areas, and builds on my work from last year to remediate our marine areas by planting kelp and sea grasses. I’ve been working closely with the bill’s prime sponsor, Representative Kristine Reeves (LD 30, Federal Way) on a bipartisan approach that will help us act on climate while supporting and enhancing our state lands.
Boldly Balancing Budgets
With just a few weeks of the 2023 legislative session to go, we are working up until the finish line on bills and budgets that align with our values and put the people and environment of Washington first. We recently passed the capital, operating, and transportation budgets for the next two years off the Senate floor and sent them over to the House for their consideration.
The capital budget had some exciting investments for the 40th, including:
- $800,000 for commercial and recreational pump-outs to serve boaters in the Puget Sound
- $824,000 for the Ejidos Community Farm in Whatcom County
- $2,244,000 for the North Shore Conservation Easement on Orcas Island
- $210,000 for Marine Spills Response Enhancement on Friday Harbor
- $206,000 for the Skagit PUD Headquarters Public Meeting Room
The operating budget funded several priorities we outlined this year, including:
- $2.9 billion in new money for our schools and an emphasis on special education services
- $424 million to transform behavioral and mental health care and for drug treatment
- $298 million towards housing and immediate shelter needs
- $457 million for enhancements to the Working Connections Child Care program
- $123 million for wildfire suppression and forest health activities
- $20 million for community and technical colleges
The transportation budget invested in:
- Critical WSF ferry improvements, like funding for Anacortes and San Juan terminals and sustaining capital for vessel construction
- Full funding for the Guemes Island Ferry
- Skagit Transit Maintenance Operations and Administration Facility
These steps in the budget process show what we’re hoping to prioritize this year in state investments. We’ll be negotiating over the coming weeks, and I hope and expect a number of important local projects for our communities will make it into the final budget.
I look forward to continuing to work with you this year.
All the best,