2024 State Legislative Report for final week of session

By Diana Carlen
Lobbyist, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

The Legislature adjourned on the 60th day of the 2024 Legislative session on Thursday, March 7, at 5:50 p.m. In the final week of the legislative session, the Legislature adopted the supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets. The Legislature also continued to pass bills. In total, the legislature passed 381 bills during this short, but intense session.

Legislature Passes Three out of Six Initiatives

When the session began in January, the big question was how the Legislature would react to the six initiatives filed with the Legislature. This was the first time this many initiatives had been filed with the Legislature at the same time. In the final week of session, the Legislature passed three of the initiatives and let the other three be decided by voters during the November general election.

Specifically, the legislature passed the following initiatives:

  • Initiative 2111 – prohibits the state or local jurisdictions from enacting a personal income tax.
  • Initiative 2081 – provides parents with a right to review educational materials, receive certain notifications, and opt out of sexual health education.
  • Initiative 2113 – changes the state’s vehicular pursuit law to allow an officer to engage in a pursuit if there is reasonable suspicion to believe the person has violated the law.

The initiatives above do not require the governor’s signature and will take effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

The Legislature did not take action on the following initiatives, which never even received public hearings during session and will automatically be on the general ballot in November for the voters to decide their fate:

  • Initiative 2117 – repeals the Climate Commit Act (state’s cap and trade program).
  • Initiative 2124 – allows employees to opt out of the state long-term care program/payroll tax).
  • Initiative 2109 – repeals the capital gains tax.

Additional Legislative Retirement Announced

Following the conclusion of the 2024 Legislative Session, legislators will transition to focusing on election season. All members of the House of Representatives and roughly half the members of the Senate will seek re-election.

The end of the 2024 session brought about several announcements of legislators that do not plan to seek re-election including the following:

  • Andy Billig (D-Spokane) has served in the Legislature since 2010 and currently is the Senate majority leader. Rep. Marcus Riccelli has announced that he will run for the Senate seat, creating an open House seat in the 3rdLegislative District.
  • Karen Keiser (D-SeaTac) has served in the Legislature since 1995 and currently serves as the chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. She will serve out the remainder of the year. Her term is not up until 2026 so it is likely the King County Council will appoint her replacement (required to be a Democrat) from a list provided by Democrat precinct committee officers.
  • Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) has served in the Legislature since 2015 and is currently the ranking member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Paul Harris has announced that he will run for the Senate seat, creating an open House seat in the 17thLegislative District.
  • Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) has served in the Legislature since 2000. Rep. Jessica Bateman has announced that she will run for the Senate seat, creating an open House seat in the 22ndLegislative District.
  • JT Wilcox (R-Yelm) has served in the Legislature since 2011 and is the former House minority leader.
  • Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) has served in the Legislature since 2005 and is the former House deputy minority leader.
  • Spencer Hutchins (R-Gig Harbor) has served in the Legislature since 2023.

There are also several legislators who have announced they plan to run for higher office, and as a result, will not be seeking re-election to their current positions:

  • Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) is running for governor and is currently the chair of the Senate Capital Budget. Rep. Bill Ramos (D) is running for Sen. Mullet’s seat.
  • Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) is running for commissioner for public lands and is currently the xhair of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee. Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) plans to run for the position, leaving an open House seat in the 24thLegislative District. Rep. Chapman is currently the chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, so there will be new chairs next session for both the Senate and House agriculture and natural resource committees.
  • Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (R-Republic) is running for the 5th congressional seat. Rep. Maycumber is currently the House minority floor leader.

Additionally, there are legislators who are running for a statewide position, but if they are unsuccessful in winning those races, will be able to return to the Senate to continue out the remainder of their term (two more years):

  • Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) is running for attorney general.
  • Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) is running for the Office of Insurance commissioner.
  • Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) is running for the 6thcongressional seat.
  • Drew MacEwen (R-Shelton) is running for the 6thcongressional seat.

Final Budgets Adopted

The Legislature adopted 2024 supplemental budgets, which make mid-biennial budget adjustments to the 2023-25 budgets that were adopted in April 2023.

The 2024 Supplemental Operating Budget spends $1.1 billion to maintain existing programs and an additional $1 billion to fund new policy expenditures. The supplemental operating budget does into increase any taxes. The supplemental operating budget can be found here.

The 2024 Supplemental Capital Budget allocates $1.3 billion in total funds, with $130.6 million from debt limit bonds and $1.2 billion from other resources including $688.4 million in Climate Commitment Act accounts and $307.5 million from the Common School Construction Fund. Several of the appropriations are contingent on voters rejecting Initiative 2117 (repeal of the Climate Commitment Act). The budget also does not appropriate revenue generated from the capital gains tax beyond November 2024. The supplemental capital budget can be found here.

Notable Operating & Capital Budget Items of Interest:

  • $30 million to pay farmers and haulers who bought fuel for agricultural purposes but had to pay a surcharge due to the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). Under the CCA, fuel used for agricultural purposes is supposed to be exempt from these kinds of added fees. The rebates would begin being issued by Sept. 1 by the Department of Licensing based on a tiered system. The $30 million is well below the $150 million that the Farm Bureau estimates is needed to cover the carbon surcharges paid by farmers since the CCA went into effect.
  • $824,000 to the governor’s office for the riparian work group facilitators to provide the task force with background information regarding recommendations submitted to the 2024 Legislature, and to support the development of implementation proposals. The report will be due Nov. 15, 2024.
  • $2 million for the Department of Ecology to meet the increased demand for administrative orders authorized under chapter 90.48 RCW (the water pollution control act) for projects impacting state waters.
  • $250,000 is provided solely for the department to administer a grant program to farmers to promote hiring local workers, providing locally grown food, reducing transportation pollution, and strengthening food sovereignty and climate and disaster resiliency. To qualify for the grant program, the farm must grow handpicked specialty crop vegetables that are provided to local markets or schools, hire only domestic agricultural workers, and be owned and operated by a state resident. Under the grant program, each farm submitting proof of eligibility for the grant program to the department may be offered grant funding in an amount up to the equivalent of four weeks of their paid overtime hours during peak harvest for their specialty crop vegetable, up to $20,000.
  • $131,000 is provided to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) for a climate lead position (funding cannot be expended or obligated prior to January 2025).
  • $3.6 million is provided solely for monitoring and response efforts for invasive quagga mussels, which were discovered on the Snake River in Idaho in July 2023.
  • $600,000 is provided to match federal funds to identify the offsets to the loss of recreation opportunities associated with the potential draw down of reservoirs on the lower Snake River.
  • $206,000 is provided solely to initiate the development of a statewide web map tool to integrate the Department of Ecology’s water resources management databases.
  • $500,000 is provided for a grant to a Washington nonprofit organization that supports farmworkers to help develop and share farmworker ideas to improve production.
  • $250,000 is provided in both budgets for a comprehensive report with recommendations on a grant program to support farmers purchasing green fertilizer (funding lapses if initiative to repeal CCA is successful).
  • $300,000 for an analysis of the contribution of waste tires, as defined in RCW 70A.205.440, to 6PPD pollution.
  • $250,000 is provided for the Department of Commerce to provide a grant for a study on how other states regulate and permit agritourism and bring the advocates of interested groups together to resolve outstanding issues about permitting in agricultural areas; the sale of beer, wine, and cider; and the use of agricultural buildings for agritourism purposes. A report of the findings and recommendations must be submitted to the legislature in accordance with RCW 43.01.036 by June 30, 2025.
  • $183,000 is provided solely for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to collaborate with WSDA and the Department of Labor and Industries on a study that, at a minimum, examines factors that impact children of seasonal farmworkers in comparison to migrant students.
  • $3,307,000 is provided to update surface water maps across the state, develop geospatial integration tools, and support the use, accuracy, and adoption of the state’s hydrography dataset (funding lapses if initiative to repeal CCA is successful).
  • $795,000 is provided to WSDA to partner with 10 organizations to promote diversity and develop agricultural leadership and educational opportunities.
  • $400,000 is provided to WSDA for grants to farmers to help offset the costs of gaining organic certification and the associated inspection fees.
  • $250,000 is provided to WSDA to convene and staff a work group to provide recommendations on mental health and suicide prevention for agricultural producers, farm workers, and their families, including whether an agricultural mental health hotline should be established.
  • $2,000,000 is provided solely to communicate with the public in multiple languages on the use and benefits of climate commitment act funding, as well as the ways in which communities can access climate commitment act grant funding. Funds provided in this subsection may not be expended or obligated prior to Jan. 1, 2025 (funding lapses if initiative to repeal CCA is successful).
  • $25 million to help Energy Northwest develop carbon free clean energy, i.e. small modular nuclear (funding lapses if initiative to repeal CCA is successful).
  • $22,000,000 is provided to the Conservation Commission for grants to dairy farm owners for cost share agreements regarding anaerobic digester development.
  • $10 million for a digester at the Washington State University Knott Dairy — the creamery that produces Cougar Gold cheese — to help turn manure into clean energy.
  • $5.5 million for the Odessa pipeline turnouts project.
  • $2.5 million for grants to improve carbon storage and sequestration on agricultural lands.