Recapping the 2024 session: This year the people set the pace

A series of six initiatives this year changed the way lawmakers looked at nearly everything

Note: This e-newsletter originally was distributed to Sen. Gildon’s subscribers March 15, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Gildon’s e-newsletters, click here. 

In this week’s video update, I recap the biggest issues of our 2024 legislative session. You can see it by clicking here.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’ve just finished our 2024 legislative session, and it’s time for a few final thoughts. This was a year in which the people of Washington reminded us that they are in charge of state government, not the other way around. It was a refreshing change from the trends of the last few years, and I certainly hope it continues.

In the video above, I explain some of the biggest issues we faced. I hope you can take a moment to watch.

Six initiatives were game-changers

What made the difference this year was a series of six initiatives submitted to the Legislature. The people collected 2.6 million signatures to place these measures before us, demonstrating the public’s frustration with the ‘progressive’ agenda our majority colleagues have been pushing since 2018. The result of this agenda has been the opposite of progress — higher crime, higher taxes, and greater government control over our schools, our economy and our daily lives. With these initiatives, the public told us it has had enough.

These initiatives changed the course of this year’s session. For one thing, our colleagues recognized these measures would pass by huge margins if they went to the ballot. So they permitted the House and Senate to vote on three of them, reluctantly undoing part of their program in the process. These initiatives restored police pursuits, banned future income taxes, and gave a voice in their children’s public-school education. I was delighted to vote yes on each.

Three other initiatives will advance to the November general election ballot for voters to decide. These would repeal the new state income tax on capital gains (Initiative 2109), repeal the state’s cap-and-trade program (Initiative 2117) and allow workers to opt out of a mandatory payroll tax for long-term care (Initiative 2124).

Affected other issues

The strong rebuke these initiatives offered had another effect. It shook our colleagues’ confidence, and we saw it reflected in the way other issues were considered.

One example was a proposal (SB 5770) that would have allowed property taxes to increase three times faster than they already do. Within a few years, it would have been the biggest tax increase in state history. Public uproar convinced our colleagues to back off, and the bill did not pass.

Other sweeping proposals failed when lawmakers conceded the usual political solutions just wouldn’t work. Like a rent control proposal (HB 2114) that would have worsened the underlying cause of skyrocketing rents, a shortage of housing. Or a proposal to increase real estate excise taxes to build low-income housing (HB 2276/SB 6191). This would have raised apartment rental costs and only added to our affordability crisis.

Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/CARLOS534

Natural gas bill could have enormous impact

Most agenda-driven bills seemed to run out of steam this year, but we couldn’t stop them all. An especially troubling bill sets up our region for a ban on natural gas. House Bill 1589 hands a staggering bill to 900,000 homeowners and businesses served by Puget Sound Energy.

The bill allows PSE to propose massive rate hikes to state regulators and eventually shut off gas service entirely. You’ll have to replace your furnace, water heater and stove. Average cost would be $40,000 per home, and it could be quite a bit higher for owners of older homes. We battled this bill in the House and Senate but did not have the votes to defeat it. We’re certainly going to hear more about this one in the years ahead, and this is another issue on which the public will have to make itself heard.

Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.                Credit: Drug Enforcement Administration.

Fentanyl proposals win funding in final budget

No new taxes are among this year’s victories

This year’s spirit of realism extended to the budget, where I served as part of the negotiating team. While this year’s budget was by no means a bipartisan proposal, Republicans in the Senate were at the table throughout the process, and we had much to contribute. The final agreement contains no new taxes and a much larger reserve for emergencies than the governor proposed. It also funds many of our priorities, such as public safety and K-12 education.

I am especially proud that we were able to obtain funding to combat our state’s fentanyl crisis. Washington is among the states hardest hit by the spread of this deadly opioid. The latest federal figures show we had the fastest-rising number of overdose deaths nationwide during the 12 months prior to September.  I joined with other Republican senators this year in offering a package of bills to address the spread of this deadly opioid and reduce overdoses statewide. The final budget included several priorities in our ‘Recovery Washington’ proposal.

These included funding for tribal opioid programs, which serve tribal members as well as the general public, and do it more efficiently than non-tribal programs. We obtained funding for a public education campaign to underscore the point that ‘one pill kills.’ And we were able to partially restore funding for regional drug task forces that had been targeted for cuts. The latter was something I proposed in a bill earlier this session, and I was glad to see it reflected in the final budget. We’ll need more measures like these to get this scourge under control, and we can be sure this discussion will continue next year.

The bottom line this year? The people of Washington scored a number of wins, but we have a long way to go to put the state on the right track. With your help and your voice, we can make that happen.

Scene on the Senate floor March 7 as the final gavel fell to end our 60-day legislative session.

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.