Live from Olympia — the good, the interesting, the controversial

Standout bills of the session

Note: This e-newsletter originally was distributed to Sen. Gildon’s subscribers Feb. 23, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Gildon’s e-newsletters, click here. 

A visit from royalty: I was delighted this year to present the Senate resolution honoring Pierce County’s Daffodil Festival, and to welcome the Daffodil Court to the Capitol. The celebration, now in its 91st year, recognizes the leadership and volunteerism of our youth. A queen will be crowned March 2, and the celebration culminates in a grand floral parade April 6 in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting. You can read more about it here. Congratulations to the princesses of the Daffodil Court!


A look at this year’s legislation – the good, the interesting and the controversial

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are nearing the end of our 2024 legislative session, which is due to adjourn March 7. By this point we’ve taken hundred of votes in the Senate, and we’ve gotten a look at most of the bills that will be advancing this year.

In this newsletter, I want to put a spotlight on some of this legislation – my annual list of what I call “the good, the interesting and the controversial.” Unless otherwise noted, these bills remain alive for consideration this year.


The Good

Reducing chronic school absenteeism: SB 5850 launches programs to identify public school students with frequent absences, and connect them with appropriate support programs.

Including synthetic opioids in the crime of endangerment with a controlled substance: SB 5010 updates child-endangerment statutes to include fentanyl. I’ll tell you more about other legislation to combat our fentanyl crisis in my next newsletter.

Cracking down on catalytic converter theft: HB 2153 establishes new felony crimes for trafficking in or possession of stolen catalytic converters.

The Interesting

Declaring Washington to be “The Evergreen State”: SB 5595 corrects a 131-year oversight. Newspapers in 1893 reported the state Senate voted to adopt the nickname, but no official record of the vote has ever been located.

Making Washington a bee-friendly state: SB 5934 allows cities and counties to encourage building-permit applicants to encourage pollinator-friendly plantings, and allows regulation of beehives, but forbids local governments from prohibiting them. Originated as a Girl Scout project.

Banning octopus farming: No octopus farming is taking place in Washington waters, and HB 1153 would keep it that way — on the grounds that they are sentient beings that should not be caged.

Cracking down on freeway protests: In the wake of last month’s stoppage on I-5 in Seattle, SB 6160 would have made ‘failure to disperse’ a Class C felony when traffic is deliberately held up. The bill died in the Senate.

The Controversial

Massive increase in property taxes: SB 5770 would have allowed local property taxes to increase three times faster than they already do, and would quickly have become the biggest tax increase in state history. The bill technically is alive until the end of session, but public furor caused Democratic sponsors to withdraw support.

Real Estate Tax increase: SB 6191 and HB 2276 would reduce taxes on real estate for some lower-value properties, but would increase them on more expensive properties. The measure aims to tax the rich, but also hits multifamily apartment dwellings, creating pressure for higher rents. The bill is alive until the end of session.

Rent control: HB 2114 would restrict rent increases and require six months’ advance notice before rent can be raised, offering short-term relief for renters, but creating a disincentive to build new rental properties that would alleviate Washington’s housing shortage.

Eliminating local elections in even-numbered years: HB 1932 would allow cities and counties to hold elections in even-numbered years, reducing some administrative costs, but also marginalizing local issues and ensuring local non-partisan races will be overshadowed by presidential, congressional and legislative races.

Unemployment benefits for striking workers: HB 1893 would allow benefits for workers on strike or locked out in a labor dispute, increasing unemployment insurance costs, and ending the principle that benefits should go only to workers unemployed through no fault of their own.

Allowing incarcerated felons to vote, serve on juries, and run for public office: HB 2030 would have allowed convicted criminals to participate in civic life while doing time in a state prison. The bill died in the House.

Unused gift cards: HB 2095 and SB 5988 would have treated unused merchant gift cards and rewards points as “unclaimed property,” allowing the state to claim the money after three years, while creating cumbersome reimbursement procedures for merchants and cardholders. Bills died in both chambers.


Thanks to everyone who attended our 25th District town hall meeting Feb. 17 at Pierce College! I was joined by my seatmates, Reps. Kelly Chambers and Cyndy Jacobsen, as we spent an hour discussing current legislative issues. Especially enjoyable was the chance to chat with many of you beforehand. If you weren’t able to make it to this town hall, I hope you will be able to join us at our next one!


Thanks for reading — it is an honor serving you!






Sen. Chris Gildon, 25th Legislative District

Deputy Leader, Senate Republican Caucus


Contact me!

PHONE: (360) 786-7648


MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 40425/ Olympia, WA  98504


NOTE: Written communications are subject to disclosure under the Washington Public Records Act.