Living Up to Earth Day, Expanding Affordable Housing, & Keeping in Touch

Dear friends and neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session adjourned in March. We successfully enacted 373 bills, with an impressive 297 of those bills receiving significant bipartisan support. These efforts emphasized the critical need for advancement in confronting issues like climate change, housing security, education funding parity, and the fentanyl epidemic.

Our district will also receive critical funding from the supplemental budgets passed this session, including almost $200K for the Lopez Island Food Hub, $125K for granary upgrades at the Port of Skagit, $103K for infrastructure upgrades at the Samish Nation, $500K for a Geothermal feasibility study with the Nooksack Tribe (in partnership with Whatcom PUD ), nearly $15 million to complete the Crisis Stabilization Center in Skagit County, and $14 million for the Guemes Island ferry replacement.

In the coming weeks, keep an eye out for a full legislative review from Senator Lovelett, Rep. Lekanoff, and I in your mailbox. You can also view it online!

Earth Day

As we celebrated Earth Day’s 54th anniversary a couple of weeks ago, we were reminded that our state has already experienced record-breaking temperatures this year.

Despite decades of awareness-raising efforts, the reduction of greenhouse gas and transition to a green economy remains a pressing issue. Washington has taken significant steps, implementing nation-leading legislation aimed at combating climate change. Recent milestones, like the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) and Clean Fuel Standard, signify a proactive approach to curbing emissions.

The CCA, was passed in 2021 and went into effect in 2023. It both establishes limits on the state’s largest polluters, but also channels funds towards environmental justice including community health improvement and addressing past environmental harms.  We are starting to see these changes make a difference as clean energy is deployed more and more. But there is also a lot of misinformation.

I am proud to have voted in support of the Climate Commitment Act as the single largest effort by our state to turn the tide on climate change. Investments and efforts in clean energy, transportation, and environmental justice that benefit our community and state include:

  • Clean energy development and energy efficiency projects.
  • Natural resource conservation and carbon sequestration.
  • Decarbonization efforts at public colleges and universities.
  • Clean air projects at K-12 schools.
  • Rebates for electric heat pumps that go directly to Washington families.
  • Electric school buses safeguarding children’s health from diesel engine pollution.
  • Enhancing public transit and providing free transit for kids.
  • Expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure to provide safe routes for multi-modal transit.
  • Rebates for weatherization of homes.
  • Transitioning the nation’s largest ferry to sustainable hybrid electric ferries.
  • Providing funds to private landowners for conservation efforts.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions originating from building, promoting healthier indoor spaces, and creating living wage jobs in the building industry.
  • Saving salmon habitat.
  • Electrification of rail and ports creating quieter and cleaner coastal areas and communities.
  • Geothermal and offshore energy generation research.
  • Food waste reduction grants.
  • Forest protection and fire prevention efforts.

With each passing year, the cap on emissions tightens for our state’s largest polluters, signaling a commitment to a sustainable future. As Earth Day reminds us of our collective responsibility, it’s essential to utilize tools like the CCA to ensured that our communities are not left to suffer with the harmful impacts of environmental degradation and climate change. Looking ahead, let’s remember that the spirit of Earth Day is one that asks us to realize a greener, more resilient planet.

Affordable Housing

Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce awarded $19.8 million to preserve 873 affordable housing units in 14 counties, aiming to assist vulnerable populations. These projects, crucial for Washington’s most in-need communities, address repair and maintenance needs, ensuring extended service for generations. Communities in Mount Vernon and Bellingham will receive funds specifically supporting existing Housing Trust Fund properties, emphasizing major repairs or system replacements to sustain affordable housing availability.

This investment builds on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program that allocated $17.6 million for housing projects in Washington last month. This funding supports 205 projects statewide, addressing homelessness through temporary or permanent housing assistance and supportive services. By continuing to invest in affordable housing, especially in rural areas, we can work with federal and community partners to facilitate partnerships that advance equity and connect vulnerable households with housing opportunities.

When combined with investments made by the legislature in the Housing trust Fund for affordable housing and legislation to expand housing supply and stabilize costs, we begin to address the affordable housing crisis through a comprehensive approach. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue and more work remains ahead of us. Next session, I look forward to continuing to advocate for statewide rent stabilization (HB 2114), transit oriented developments that address the unique challenges of their communities (HB 2160), and the Affordable Homes Act (HB 2276).

Staying In Touch

As we navigate through the 2024 legislative interim, I wanted to inform you about some changes regarding my communication channels. Between May 6th and the certification of the 2024 election results, there will be a temporary freeze on most communication through my legislative website and Facebook page. This means that I won’t be posting any new content with state resources, including email updates. However, please rest assured that I am still fully committed to serving you and our community.

My office remains open and available to assist you with any legislative inquiries, connecting you with state agencies and services, or scheduling meetings with me. We also have great information on state resources such as competitive capital grant and loan programs, so please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Despite the restrictions on public communication during this time, I am dedicated to continuing our dialogue and improving our community by addressing the issues that matter most to you. For more information on election year restrictions, please click here or watch the video above. Thank you for your understanding and continued partnership in improving the 40th legislative district.

In Service,

Rep. Alex Ramel

WA State Representative | 40th Legislative District
House Majority Whip
Pronouns: he/him/his