Citizens rise up, force lawmakers to listen in historic session

Citizens rise up, force lawmakers to listen in historic session

The 2024 Washington state legislative session, which concluded last Thursday, marked a pivotal shift in the balance of power between the people and their elected officials. Emboldened by rising costs of living and concerns for public safety, Washingtonians rose up like never before to serve as a formidable check on lawmakers. They made it abundantly clear the days of unrestrained, radical policymaking on issues impacting their wallets and well-being are numbered. 

While some misguided bills still managed to squeak through, the session’s outcomes demonstrated that the tides are turning, with citizens’ voices growing too strong to ignore.

Through rallies, emails, phone calls, and testimonials, everyday Washingtonians passed three of the six citizen-led initiatives on income tax prohibition, police pursuit, and parental notification rights. The initiatives passed both the State House and Senate on March 4 and will become law soon. Unfortunately, the other three initiatives did not pass or even get their constitutionally guaranteed hearings, but make no mistake, the three initiatives that did pass would have met the same fate as the ones that were stalled had it not been for the voices of everyday people calling on their lawmakers to act.  

This session’s impact extended beyond the three initiatives. Washingtonians made their voices loud and clear, helping stop several harmful policies in their tracks before they could pass under their noses. These include misguided attempts to: 

All of these crumbled under the overwhelming public pressure and backlash from an awakened, informed populace who used their voice. It’s a major win that these bills were stopped but shows the little integrity of our lawmakers for prioritizing them over granting hearings to the three remaining initiatives on cap and trade, capital gains taxes, and long-term care provider taxes.

Regrettably, Washingtonians were hit with a few other losses as well, including the passage of the ill-conceived bill to start banning natural gas (HB 1589), which will cost many Washington families $40,000 to convert their homes from gas to electric. The fight here is not over. Soon, you will hear more from Future 42 on how to fight back. 

Another measure passed that consolidates all authority of public school curriculum under the State Superintendent’s office, removing local oversight (HB 2331). 

Perhaps most disgracefully, potentially life-saving legislation allowing harsher criminal penalties for exposing children to fentanyl was outright stalled by House Democrats (SB 5010). While sailing through the Senate on a bipartisan 48-1 vote, the chairman of the House committee assigned to hear the bill, Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), refused to even grant the bill a hearing in the House despite overdoses reaching epidemic levels among Washington youth. 

Amidst reviewing this historic legislative session, one truth has crystalized—the voice of Washingtonians is potent and has reclaimed the rightful seat of ordinary citizens at the policymaking table. Their march continues as they fight to pass the three remaining initiatives in the next ballot and reshape Washington politics by using their voices like never before.

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