Welcome to the 2024 legislative session and learn about how you can participate. 

Friends and neighbors,  

We kicked off the 2024 legislative session on Monday, January 8th. This is a “short” session which only spans 60 days. After two weeks, we’re more than 25% done and already have a townhall scheduled! Read on to learn about some of the bills I’ve introduced, a new way in which I serve our Democratic House caucus, and how we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   

Election into caucus leadership 

One year into my first term, part of me is still in disbelief that I have the honor of representing our historic district. I’m grateful to hear that many of you appreciate my service and I have been further humbled when, in the first week of this session, the House Democratic caucus elected me to the leadership team as Vice Caucus Chair. I look forward to building comradery between our members and bringing our district’s progressive values to the leadership table.  

Martin Luther King Jr. celebration 

Spending MLK Day with many of you at the Garfield rally and march is a tradition that I looked forward to every year. Unfortunately, we don’t take this day off in the legislature. This allows us to get more Democratic priorities passed, especially in a short session! 

While my attendance at Garfield is temporarily on hold, that doesn’t mean MLK day is business as usual. This year I had the privilege of giving a speech on the House floor honoring Dr. King. While he’s viewed as a hero today, I think it’s important to recognize that his work has not always been universally revered and remains unfinished to this day. You can view my full speech here by clicking the image below.

Incentivizing more affordable housing. 

We see the impact of our housing crisis every day as we walk past community members who have no other option than finding shelter on our streets and in our parks. We must use every means possible to expand our supply of housing, especially affordable housing that serves those most in need. House Bill 2012 makes sure that affordable housing developments, using only city or county funds, get the preferential tax treatment that many other affordable housing developments get today. 

(Credit: LSS Photography)

Affordable housing complexes are usually built with multiple funding streams, one of which qualifies them for preferential tax treatment. Currently, funding from cities and counties do not qualify a development for tax credits are cities and counties. This becomes a problem when cities or counties, like Seattle and King County, are large enough to provide the sole funding for projects. It results in these projects failing to qualify for preferential tax status, even though the infrastructure it provides is equivalent to other nonprofit affordable housing projects. 

House Bill 2012 adds state and county funds to the list of qualifying sources that qualify a nonprofit housing complex for preferential tax treatment. This is one way to help us build more affordable housing in Seattle and King County. 

Helping Harborview, our regional safety net. 

(Credit: LSS Photography)

Some of the services our unhoused population needs is healthcare and mental health services. Harborview is a premiere provider of these services for our community. 70% of the people who receive care at Harborview are on some kind of government medical assistance. It also houses the only psychiatric ER, outside of the State’s psychiatric hospitals. With 40% of the people receiving care at Harborview being from outside of King County, this hospital is truly a safety net for our region. 

Right now, Harborview is short $1 billion to complete its renovations. I introduced House Bill 2348 to ensure that Harborview’s renovations can be fully funded, preserving this life-saving safety net. 

Dreaming of a future without fossil fuels. 

We must work towards a green future. I have introduced a joint resolution urging our federal delegation to sign on to the Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Act. We shouldn’t be continuing to explore new fossil fuels when we’ve already discovered enough to push us over the 1.5 degree threshold. Furthermore, the transition away from fossil fuels in our energy systems must be done in a just, orderly, and equitable manner. 

Traffic safety for all. 

I introduced the Traffic Safety for All Act last session after Washington recorded the highest number of traffic deaths in our state’s history. House Bill 1513 re-prioritizes police time from low-risk traffic stops to safety related stops. This act would make most non-moving violations, like expired tabs or a broken taillight, a secondary violation that would no longer be a reason for officers to pull people over. A jurisdiction in Connecticut saw DUI arrests go up 250% after similar legislation was implemented. This is exactly the type of outcomes we want to see from enforcement of our traffic laws. I will continue to push this bill and build our coalition of people who wants to see traffic fatalities decline.  

Statehood for Washington, D.C. 

Finally, I believe it is long past time for Washington, D.C. to become a state. District residents pay the highest per capita federal taxes, yet don’t have voting members in the Senate or the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, their well-being is largely determined by the whims of the federal government since it controls much of D.C.’s authority and budget. 

DC statehood is not only an issue of democracy, it’s also an issue of racial equity. Washington, D.C. is a historically Black city, and Black people still make 47% of the population (41% White, 4% Asian and 11% are of Hispanic origins). Not only are we currently disenfranchising American citizens, 62% of them are people of color. To this end, I have introduced a resolution to request that our federal delegation support D.C. statehood.  

How to Participate in the 2024 Session 

I believe having robust dialogue that includes people with lived experiences is vital along and join the journey with us. Here are some ways to do so:   

  • Watch — TVW.org broadcasts all debates and votes that happen in the House or Senate, as well as all committee meetings in both chambers.   
  • Testify — Go here for an overview of the process, here for instructions on how to testify remotely, and here to sign in for hearings in the House or Senate.   
  • Research —Look up any bill by number, lawmaker, or topic here. To learn about the entire legislative process, click here.   
  • Stay Informed — Visit my website and official social media pages:    
  • Get in Touch — You can always reach my office by email or phone; all our contact information is listed at the bottom of this newsletter.  

Having your input is central to crafting successful legislation. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Thank you,  

Chipalo Street signature

Rep. Chipalo Street