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The Impact – Big Legislative Stories of 2023, Issues to Watch in 2024

Mike McClanahan profile by Mike McClanahan

This year a number of new laws hit the books and some slightly older laws took effect.

  • Payroll deductions started in July for the WA Cares Fund as part of the state’s mandatory long term care coverage requirements which passed back in 2019.
  • The new restrictions on industrial and muffler related greenhouse gas emissions which took effect in January were signed into law back in 2021. 
  • The first payments were due in April for the capital gains tax which was also enacted in 2021.
  • This spring lawmakers partially rolled back the vehicle pursuit restrictions for police that took effect in July of 2021. 

Meanwhile, there are ongoing campaigns to repeal or significantly change all of those laws. Organizers are in the process of gathering signatures for multiple initiatives that, if certified, would put the issues back in front of lawmakers and then potentially on the ballot in 2024.

  • I-2124 would allow anyone to opt-out of the state’s long-term care program and end the requirement to carry private long-term care coverage if you do opt-out.
  • I-2109 would abolish the state capital gains tax, 
  • I-2117 would bar state agencies from implementing cap and trade or any other type of carbon tax credit trading programs. It would also repeal the emissions reduction deadlines established by the Climate Commitment Act.
  • I-2113 would give police more leeway when deciding whether to initiate a vehicle pursuit.  

Those are just four of the six initiatives that organizers are trying to qualify this before the end of the year. Each initiative to the legislature requires a minimum of 324,500 signatures from registered voters due no later than December 29, 2023.

“I’ve seen signature gatherers and they’re sitting there with six clipboards, so they’re working to get six signatures at a time,” said Jerry Cornfield (Washington State Standard). “This year, there’s money. There’s close to $5 million depending on who you ask.”

“We could be missing out on potentially thousands of records that are just getting deleted every seven…seven days,” said Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy: Tacoma News-Tribune, The Olympian, Bellingham Herald, Tri-City Herald). “They’re talking about changing entire policies in some of these messages.“