Legislative Update: The 2024 Legislative Session Starts Next Week!

Dear friends and neighbors, 

I’m heading back to Olympia already, as Monday, Jan. 8, marks the start of the 2024 Legislative Session. This is a short session year lasting just 60 days, with our work here wrapping up on March 7. 

Since my last newsletter to you in the spring, I’ve enjoyed being home and meeting with so many of you and working collaboratively on issues that are vital to our communities here in Whatcom County. Yet I’m eager for another session to start and to work side by side with my legislative colleagues again. I send out regular newsletters during session, which is a good way for you to stay connected to my work.

Today, let me give you an update on some bills that are still active from last year, introduce you to my legislative assistant, and describe how you can get involved in the lawmaking process this year.

Six Bills Still Alive

A year ago, I introduced the following six bills. Because the Legislature works on a two-year cycle, these bills are still alive and will continue to cycle through the process this year. I wrote about these bills in my e-newsletters last session, but to remind you of what they’re about, read the brief synopses below. 

  • House Bill 1386: A bill for youth development grants, this piece of legislation supports mentoring, expanded learning opportunities, after-school or summer programs, school-aged childcare, and other child supports. These expanded learning opportunities are intended to be in areas such as the arts, civic engagement technology, engineering, and math. 
  • House Bill 1605: This piece of legislation enables small, rural school districts in our state (those with less than 2,750 students) to participate in skill centers. The primary purpose of skill centers is to give students the academic and work skills to successfully enter the job market or advanced education and training. They provide cost-effective, quality job training in programs that would be too expensive to offer at every high school. 
  • House Bill 1685: Concerning resource and assessment centers (RACS), this bill will increase the ages where kids can receive care (currently birth to age 12, but if passed, from birth to age 17, or up to 17 if a child already has a sibling at the RAC), extends care for seven to 14 days (instead of the current 72 hours), and will be used to provide emergency initial care for children. The inspiration for this bill comes from Bellingham’s own Skookum Kids, whose mission is to repair the foster care system by eliminating the pain points that make life unnecessarily difficult for foster parents and social workers. The nonprofit does this by involving the whole community in the important work of child welfare. 
Used with permission from Skookum Kids
  • House Bill 1716 If passed, this piece of legislation will support employers providing childcare assistance to employees by establishing a B&O tax credit for businesses and require the Department of Revenue to provide a report to the Legislature. 
  • House Bill 1717: This bill will support innovation at associate development organizations (ADOs). What’s great about this bill is it will bring state money back into our local communities to support our local economies and small businesses. 
  • House Bill 1806: Otherwise known as the “Point Roberts bill,” this bill will require the Department of Commerce to implement an exclave community small business relief program to provide resources to this small community located beneath the 49th parallel and separated from the rest of Washington by British Columbia, Canada. Point Roberts was especially hit hard economically as the U.S.-Canada border was closed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Courtesy of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce

I promise to keep you updated throughout session once there is more news to share on these six bills.

Meet My Legislative Assistant

I’d like to introduce you to Britt Youngblood, who is my partner in my Olympia office. It is her friendly voice you hear when you call, and usually your first point of contact when you reach me by email. She keeps our office running and ensures that if you need a response to anything, it’ll get done.

How to Get Involved

I encourage you to get involved in the upcoming session and consider testifying on bills that are important to you. The graphic below depicts just how you can be a part of the lawmaking process. 

Happy New Year!

I wish you all a wonderful start to 2024! I am excited to be back in Olympia for the legislative session and I’d love to hear from you on issues that are important to you. Please reach out to my office anytime, and you can stay up to date with my activities during session through my e-newsletter updates and my legislative Facebook page. 

Best wishes,