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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here at the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session, all six initiatives – signed by over 400,000 Washingtonians – have been certified by the Secretary of State’s office and are in the possession of the Legislature:

  • Initiative 2113 would fully restore the ability of law enforcement officers to engage in vehicular pursuit.
  • Initiative 2117 would repeal the Climate Commitment Act, the state’s new carbon tax program.
  • Initiative 2081 would establish a parental bill of rights, so that parents would have authority over their child’s school and medical records.
  • Initiative 2109 would repeal the state’s new capital gains tax. 
  • Initiative 2111 would prohibit state and local personal income taxes in Washington state.
  • Initiative 2124 would allow people to opt out of the new state-run, long-term-care program.

While I support passing all six initiatives this session into law, I want to hear what you think the Legislature should do. Please take my initiative survey by clicking here.

Feb. 17 virtual town hall meeting

On Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:00 p.m., you’re invited to join Senator Matt Boehnke, Representative Stephanie Barnard, and me for a virtual town hall meeting via Zoom. Please register for the event by clicking here.

I look forward to answering your questions and hearing your thoughts about the 2024 legislative session.

Policy cut-off

Last Wednesday, Jan. 31, was policy cutoff. Any policy bill that did not move out of committee in its chamber of origin by that deadline is now considered dead.

House Democrats, sadly, rejected four of my proposals:

House Bill 1633, also known as the “Home for Heroes” program would have provided home down payment and closing cost assistance for critical workers like nurses, firefighters, law enforcement, military members, veterans, childcare providers, mental health professionals, and other first responders.

We should be increasing housing affordability and helping people live where they work. Rejecting this bill is a step backwards on both fronts.  

House Bill 2040, also known as the Carbon Auction Rebate (CAR), would have sent registered vehicle owners in Washington a one-time payment of $214 – or up to $428 per family – beginning in July.

Despite the grassroots support for this proposal and the national media attention, House Democrats didn’t even bother to give the CAR bill a public hearing.

Regardless of whether the Climate Commitment Act survives Initiative 2117, we need to answer the question of what to do with the $1.3 billion in extra revenue the state has collected from the carbon tax. It seems the majority intends to spend the money on new or existing government programs instead of giving it back to you, the taxpayers.

House Bill 2158 would have amended the Growth Management Act (GMA) to require local governments to expand urban growth area boundaries, so that any parcel near a residential parcel with access to urban services can be developed for residential purposes.

Washington state is dead last in the nation for housing supply. This simple reform would have significantly improved our state’s ability to close the housing supply deficit. If we’re going to make home ownership a reality for working families, we need to aggressively pursue pro-housing policies. We can and must do better.

House Bill 2406 would have formed a taskforce to investigate the causes of youth unemployment.

Many young people in Washington – even those with technical skills and certifications – are finding it difficult to find part-time employment. This taskforce would have investigated why students can’t move forward and get jobs right now.

If you have 16 or 17-year-olds at home like I do, you know how challenging it is nowadays. Jobs can provide young people with valuable skills, experiences, and opportunities that they can use later in their careers. I am disappointed that this bill was not given a public hearing.

Despite these setbacks, I am going to continue fighting to give you back your hard-earned cash, make housing more affordable, and help create employment opportunities for young people.

Increasing our housing supply

Two of my housing bills are still alive.

House Bill 2003 would provide a new tax exemption to help build affordable housing units on public lands.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources owns more than 7,000 acres of “transition land” that it can’t use for timber harvests because of its close proximity to existing development. It can also be challenging for the state to sell or use the land.

My proposal aims to encourage lessees of these public lands to build affordable housing units. It would exempt them from the state’s 12.84% leasehold excise tax for 12 years when they commit to renting or leasing at least 20% of their housing units to low- and moderate-income households.

The exemption would last as long as 20 years if a lessee commits to 25% affordable housing.

Washington has the fewest housing units per household in the nation and nearly half of renters spend a third of their income on rent. House Bill 2033 would help solve a real problem for DNR while, at the same time, make housing more accessible and affordable for everyday Washington families. It’s a win-win.

House Bill 2464 would amend the Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow counties to establish new manufactured and mobile home communities in areas outside of urban growth areas (UGAs).

House Bill 2464 – by encouraging more development – would lower rents and increase housing accessibility. Many residents of manufactured and mobile home communities are low-income and senior citizens. When rents go up, or these communities shut down, it can have devastating effects on these vulnerable residents. House Bill 2464 would get cut unnecessary government red tape and provide relief for those suffering from high housing costs and instability.

Contacting me

Please contact me with your questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions. Working together, we can make a meaningful difference here in the Mighty 8th and for our entire state.

It is an honor to serve you!

Sincerely,


April Connors

State Representative April Connors, 8th Legislative District
representativeaprilconnors.com
434 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
april.connors@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7882 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000