Olympia updates: Critical legislation on fentanyl, natural gas ban, rent control
February 23, 2024

Olympia updates: Critical legislation on fentanyl, natural gas ban, rent control

With such an action-packed legislative session heading into its final two weeks, it can be difficult to keep track of all the bills being considered. Besides the six initiatives before the legislature, here are 4 bills you should know about.

1. SB 5010: Includes fentanyl and synthetic opioids felony child endangerment statute.

As the number of children overdosing from fentanyl in our state skyrockets, some lawmakers are trying to fix a gap in state law. SB 5010 would ensure felony child endangerment includes exposing children to fentanyl, a move prosecutors and law enforcement say would assist in their crackdown of the dangerous drug. Under current law, exposing children to fentanyl can only be charged with a gross misdemeanor unless the child dies. It’s been nearly 20 years, since the law was updated in 2005 to include meth, which, at the time, was the main problem.

This common-sense bill passed easily passed the Senate by 48-1. However, Democrats in the House have warned their side may not support the legislation and it has not even been scheduled for a hearing yet, jeopardizing the entire bill. The chairman of the House committee assigned to hear the bill, Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) claims, “I literally don’t have one vote for that bill on my committee.”

Tell your representatives that you support protecting children from a drug that has already taken far too many lives in our state.

2. HB 1589: Banning natural gas services for current and/or future homes and construction

While the majority party may not have the votes to help protect children from fentanyl, they do seem to be united in at least one area: increasing costs for you and your family by undermining energy choice. HB 1589 allows Puget Sound Energy (which serves nearly 800,000 households) to stop providing natural gas services to existing customers, and potentially, for new construction. PSE would be allowed to force current customers to stop using natural gas services and instead force them to pay for natural gas alternatives. According to estimates from the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), this could increase electrical and natural gas rates by $206 / month for homeowners. This bill will increase the cost of living, rent, and housing for families across the state.

While HB 1589 has already cleared the House, there’s still time to stop it. Tell your state senator to vote NO and save our stoves.  

3. HB 2114: Increasing rent and housing costs by imposing government price controls

Instead of cutting down on unnecessary fees, streamlining the permitting process, and expanding buildable lands, some politicians in Olympia think they can control the housing market by enacting rent control.

HB 2114 imposes a 7% rent increase cap, limits late fees, and restricts up front deposits. Contrary to what supporters may expect, this bill will most severely impact small mom-and pop housing providers that won’t be able to handle more regulations and red tape. As Democratic State Senator Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) explained recently, study after study shows that rent control actually reduces available housing and thus increases rental costs in the long-term.

HB 2114 passed along party lines in the House, but tell your state senator to vote NO and take real steps to increase housing supply.

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