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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you well! On Thursday, March 7th, at approximately 5:30 p.m., the 2024 legislative session came to a close after a marathon 60 days. In the final stretch, legislators concentrated on ironing out budget details and reconciling disparities between bills from both chambers. Throughout the session, over 1,600 bills were collectively introduced between the House and Senate.

In this email, I aim to highlight some key takeaways from the 2024 legislative session.

Town hall invitation

Before we begin, I wanted to remind you that I, Sen. Perry Dozier, and Rep. Mark Klicker invite you to attend an informative and engaging series of in-person town halls throughout the 16th District. Here’s the schedule.

  • Tuesday, April 2
    5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
    Prosser Community Center
    1231 Dudley Ave. (Prosser)
  • Wednesday, April 3
    6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Columbia Basin College (room to be determined)
    2600 N. 20th Ave. (Pasco)
  • Thursday, April 4
    6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Walla Walla Community College
    Performing Arts Auditorium
    500 Tausick Way (Walla Walla)

Our town halls aren’t just about relaying information. They’re about fostering meaningful dialogue with our community. We want to hear from you! Your questions, thoughts, and perspectives are invaluable to us. We encourage you to join us in this interactive exchange. I hope to see you there!

Highlights of the 2024 legislative session

The 2024 legislative session witnessed numerous successes, yet there were also areas where the Legislature did not fully meet expectations. Here are the primary highlights.

Legislative accomplishments

Supplemental bipartisan capital budget and funding for 16th District projects

The capital budget, responsible for funding numerous construction projects and capital acquisitions statewide, is usually crafted with solid bipartisan collaboration. This collaborative effort extends to the adjustments made via the supplemental capital budget. These updates effectively address diverse needs, including investments in K-12 school construction, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment facilities, housing, early learning facilities, infrastructure, and various projects in local communities across the state.

Together, Sen. Perry Dozier, Rep. Mark Kicker, and I successfully obtained funding for the following capital projects.

  • $1.5 million for the Columbia Valley Center for Recovery, on top of the $5 million allocated for it in 2023.
  • $2.55 million for the Lions Park Community Center.
  • $175,000 for the YWCA Walla Walla Childcare Center.
  • $105,000 for the new Prosser Clubhouse.
  • $98,000 for resurfacing and revitalizing the Prescott public pool.
  • $100,000 for the new Waitsburg Childcare Center.
  • $1.13 million for College Place Fire Department energy-efficiency upgrades.
  • $4.6 million for fire protection and smoke dampers at the Washington State Penitentiary’s Intensive Management Unit.
  • $196,000 for designing the Mill Creek fish passage from Colville Street to Third Avenue in Walla Walla.

Supplemental bipartisan transportation budget

The supplemental transportation budget provides an additional $1.1 billion on top of last year’s $13.5 billion allocation. It prioritizes investments in maintenance and preservation, emphasizes enhancing highway safety, and addresses challenges around the recruitment and retention of Washington State Patrol troopers. I supported the supplemental transportation budget.

We successfully obtained an additional $2.2 million for the SR 224/Red Mountain vicinity improvement project. This extra funding is of immense importance to our district. Why? WSDOT rejected the $5 million we secured in the 2024 transportation budget (in 2023), stating it was insufficient. With this supplemental transportation budget contribution, we anticipate cutting the ribbon and beginning the work.

Initiatives

In recent years, Washingtonians have experienced the adverse effects of several public policies implemented by the Legislature. In January, the people presented six initiatives to the Legislature aimed at addressing some of these concerns. A significant victory was achieved as three of these initiatives passed and will become law.

  • I-2113 restores police authority to pursue fleeing suspects.
  • I-2111 prohibits further efforts to impose a state or local personal income tax.
  • I-2081 establishes a “Parents Bill of Rights” in K-12 education to increase transparency and ensure public schools share with parents any records relating to their children and the instructional materials used in the classroom.

The three initiatives that did not pass the Legislature will advance to the November ballot, and Washington voters will decide whether to pass them.

  • I-2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act.
  • I-2124 would allow employees to opt out of the long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
  • I-2109 would repeal the excise tax on capital gains incomes over $250,000.

Legislative shortfalls

Supplemental operating budget

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am disappointed that, once again, House Republicans were excluded from the negotiations of this budget. Our representation spans significant portions of the state, and our communities merit inclusion in these critical discussions.

My decision to vote against the supplemental operating budget primarily stems from concerns regarding misplaced budget priorities and excessive state spending. It is deeply troubling that overall state spending has more than doubled over the past decade.

Solutions to improve student success in K-12

A major focus of mine in this session was formulating solutions to enhance our K-12 education system and ensure our students are adequately prepared for success in life. I sponsored two bills aimed at advancing these objectives. Regrettably, neither of these bills made it through the legislative process this session.

Empowering students to make sound financial decisions is one of the best ways we can enhance their opportunities in life. While some school districts have already prioritized financial education as a graduation requirement, but many students across the state aren’t receiving any financial instruction before graduation. House Bill 1915 would have ensured all students receive a half credit of financial education before graduating from high school.

House Bill 2387 would improve student outcomes by funding additional paraeducators. Paraeducators provide vital instructional support to students. It would also address COVID-related learning loss by funding a new temporary tutoring program that provides high-dosage tutoring to students who have fallen furthest behind.

Stay in touch

Although the Legislature has adjourned, please remember that I continue to serve as your state representative throughout the year. If you have questions or thoughts about anything in the update or about your state government in general, please reach out to my office.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve!

Sincerely,


Skyler Rude

State Representative Skyler Rude, 16th Legislative District
RepresentativeSkylerRude.com
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
skyler.rude@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7828 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000