2023 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

Dear friends and neighbors,

After 105 days, the 2023 legislative session has concluded. This year brought us back to Olympia, in person, where each day provided new opportunities to help our communities.

Whether it was helping overburdened communities have a pathway to economic stability and prosperity or strengthening protections for consumers, our neighborhoods and cities are better positioned to tackle the future than ever before. In this issue, as your 48th district legislators, we wanted to reach out with an update on our work and highlight great investments made in our community and state.

Important Funding in the Budget

During the last week of session, we focused on reconciling differences in the House and Senate versions of budgets through concurrences and conferences. As a result, we’ve once again passed the two-year operating, capital, and transportation budgets on time. The budgets maintain critical investments made over the last few years and increase support for K-12 and special education, workforce development, and affordable housing.

Preparing students for the future with a high-quality public education and a post-secondary credential was a top priority for us this year – as always. Historic investments, particularly in special education, were sent to our school districts.

Providing access to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for all qualifying families by 2027 is critical in helping non-traditional students and those with families succeed. Whether you want to attend an apprenticeship program or a university, experience financial instability, are the first in your family to go to college, or a parent returning to school, each Washingtonian deserves the opportunity to succeed.

Washington’s housing crisis is driving up costs for families across the state. We’re between 140,000-250,000 homes short of where we need to be right now, and we’ll need a million more over the next 20 years. This year, housing was one of our largest priorities, if not the largest. We passed vital legislation to help build up our housing supply and help some of our most vulnerable neighbors keep the homes they have.

Capital Budget Investments

Washington state made historic investments under the construction budget. The $8.3 billion budget sets a new state record for construction funding and will create family-wage construction jobs around the state while building a better future.

Notable investments in our community also include $1.28 million for the Kirkland Performance Center, $6.9 million for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail, $243 thousand in community home renovations, and $6 million for an energy efficiency project at the Meydenbauer Center.

A Note from Amy:

As chair of the Consumer Protection & Business Committee, I am beyond proud of the work accomplished this year by my colleagues. Banning the practice of scam robocalls, providing credit repair services, protecting consumers from puppy mills, and protecting private consumer healthcare data – a historic accomplishment for my seatmate Rep. Slatter, will improve our communities for years to come.

When it comes to bills, I’ve championed this year, I am happy to share some of the following bills that passed the legislature:

House Bill 1042 will help rapidly convert unused or underused existing buildings into new housing. This legislation streamlines the conversion of vacant buildings into residential housing by removing certain barriers.

House Bill 1046 finances affordable housing by increasing the benchmark for area median income, opening resources to low-income households. This legislation also significantly improves opportunities for partnerships between public housing authorities and private developers.

House Bill 1088 adopts the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act which provide parties with an avenue to resolve nonfinancial matters without having to go to court. This increased flexibility helps better meet the needs of all parties and provides a quicker and less formal process to find resolution. House Bill 1088 may also ease the burden on family courts.

A Note from Vandana:

This year, we’ve taken meaningful steps to address workforce development and post-secondary educational credential achievement. As Chair of this committee, I am leaving this session confident that we’ve made education more attainable for all Washingtonians and improved access to financial security through good paying jobs. Providing a path out of poverty, supporting student basic needs and financial aid, and directing students toward in demand careers is a formula for success. Ultimately, we’re on our way to building a stronger economy and workforce that uplifts all communities.

I am also excited about other bills in response to the needs of our communities, including the housing bill by my seatmate Rep. Walen to use underutilized buildings, and the property tax exemption bill by Rep. Wylie that provides tax relief to seniors, veterans and those with a disability so they can remain in their homes and community.  And on a personal note, I am thankful for the support of my colleagues this year in moving bills I have sponsored. Some bills I am exceptionally proud of and know will help working families and people in our community include:

House Bill 1155, the My Health, My Data Act, will protect the privacy of our healthcare decisions. It addresses vulnerabilities in the technological era that are being used to target and exploit consumers who may not be aware of the vast amount of data from apps, searches, and websites that our watches and phones collect.  We heard from many of you that our healthcare decisions should remain private especially at a time when the right to bodily autonomy and access to reproductive healthcare has been restricted around the country.

House Bill 1176 establishes a Climate Corp Network to turn the tide on climate change and develops the framework for a clean energy workforce through service opportunities for veterans, youth, and vulnerable populations. In communities most impacted by climate change, this will create opportunities for working families, specifically uplifting those disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate pollution. This will engage communities of color and low-income communities in an inclusive green economy.

House Bill 1684 provides tribes with additional flexibility in classifying job titles with the Employment Security Department. We need a better statewide map of occupations for students, families, and taxpayers to better understand where they can land jobs for careers they’ve trained for. The benefits of collecting this data are significant for career planning, economic development, and workforce needs, as well as research and public policy.

Recognizing State Champions in Our Community

Congratulations to Bellevue Christian & Interlake High Schools! Educationally based athletics improve student grades, mental health, and leadership skills. Teams demonstrating commitment, perseverance, excellence, and teamwork achieve the highest levels of success.

All teams begin their season with the goal of earning a championship and these in our community have achieved this historic milestone:

  • Cheer: 3A – Interlake High School
  • Boys Swimming & Diving: 3A – Interlake High School
  • Orchestra: 3A – Interlake High School
  • Choir: 1A – Bellevue Christian High School
  • Orchestra: 1A – Bellevue Christian High School

Stay In Touch During Interim

In the next eight months, we look forward to traveling to our communities, visiting your neighborhoods, and hearing directly from you. As we move forward, we encourage you to stay involved, stay informed, and continue advocating for the issues that matter to you.

In Service,

State Representative Vandana Slatter

State Representative Amy Walen

48th Legislative District