Three initiatives are passed by the Legislature – three more come in November

A victory for the people as lawmakers vote to restore police pursuits, ban an income tax, enact a ‘parents’ bill of rights’

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Jeff Wilson’s subscribers March 5, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Wilson’s updates from Olympia, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

When our 2024 legislative session started, I called this the ‘Year of the Initiative.’ A few days from adjournment, I was proven right. The people submitted six initiatives to the Legislature this year, along with 2.6 million signatures demonstrating their support. On Monday, legislators of both parties voted to pass three of these measures.

These measures ban a state income tax (Initiative 2111), restore the ability of police to chase fleeing suspects (I-2113), and affirm parental rights in their children’s education in our public schools (I-2081).

These initiatives repudiate central elements of the ‘progressive’ agenda passed by legislative Democrats over the last several years. I am sure many of my colleagues found it painful to vote for them. I think they may have recognized which way the wind was blowing. Whatever the motivation for this change of heart, I want to credit them for bowing at last to public pressure and doing the right thing.

When the story of this session is written, I think these votes will be counted as the most important thing this Legislature accomplished. But I want to remind everyone that the job isn’t finished. The people presented three other initiatives to the Legislature that our friends were unwilling to consider. These measures will advance to the ballot in November, and the people of Washington will have a chance to vote on them.

The three remaining initiatives are every bit as significant as the ones we passed, if not more so. They repeal enormous new taxes that reflect the spirit of government overreach so many of us find troubling.

  • I-2109 repeals the state’s new income tax on capital gains.
  • I-2117 repeals the cap-and-trade program that has driven up the price of gas 50 cents a gallon.
  • I-2124 allows workers to opt out of a mandatory tax for a poorly designed long-term care program.

I think we should have respected the people’s voice on these as well and passed them into law. But I see nothing wrong in allowing voters to make these decisions. One way or another, in November, the people will show the Legislature who is really in charge of their government. Thank goodness for that.



Senate budget contains $1.5 million appropriation to combat sea lions

Sea lion on Columbia. Credit/ Army Corps of Engineers.

We’re set to adjourn our 2024 legislative session Thursday, and here’s one of the big questions. Will we finally give the state Department of Fish and Wildlife the resources it needs to do something about Herschel and his friends?

The Senate version of the budget contains a $1.5 million appropriation I obtained to protect our struggling fisheries on the Lower Columbia River and its tributaries. Predator populations have doubled since 2006. Last spring, sea lions were seen 70 miles up the Cowlitz, farther upriver than ever before, chowing down on the salmon runs we have done so much to nurture back to health.

This money would help pay for predator control efforts under a license granted by the federal government. Among other things, it would give DFW the money it needs to purchase shallow-draft equipment needed on Columbia tributaries. We’ll see what the final budget contains in a day or two, and I am working hard to see this is included.



Housing costs would skyrocket under bill allowing utility to shut off the gas

Bill affects Puget Sound Energy customers — will bad idea spread?

Now for some bad news. The Senate on Friday passed a bill that would allow the state’s largest utility to dramatically increase the cost of natural gas, force customers to convert to electricity. and eventually shut down gas service to as many as 900,000 households and businesses.

How this would affect the 19th District is uncertain. Puget Sound Energy serves gas customers in Lewis County, but not electricity. If HB 1589 survives a final vote in the House, PSE would present plans to state regulators in 2027. But the gist of this proposal is disturbing — and bad ideas like these have a way of spreading.

Essentially, Puget Sound Energy hopes to meet arbitrary state goals for emissions reductions by phasing out gas service, and consumers would pick up the tab. To convert to electricity, customers would have to replace furnaces, water heaters, stoves and other appliances. In older homes, they would need to replace wiring and electrical equipment that isn’t up to the load. This can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 or more.

The largely-partisan 27-22 vote in the Senate demonstrated the emptiness of our colleagues’ talk these last two years about promoting affordable housing. The cost of housing in Washington state is headed for outer space, and policies like this one are the reason.


Thanks for reading — it is an honor serving you.






Sen. Jeff Wilson

19th Legislative District


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