By Rep. Dan Bronoske.
We’re now completing day 13 of 60 of the 2024 Legislative Session. In a short legislative session year (even years), lawmakers meet to update the budget, though usually the adjustments made to the state’s operating, capital and transportation budgets aren’t too significant.
We do have key issues to address this year, such as behavioral health challenges, substance use disorder, homelessness, and funding various projects within our transportation budget.
As a member of the House Transportation Committee, the state of our ferries and highways have been in the news quite a lot recently. My fellow lawmakers and I have our work cut out for us once again as we address increasing construction costs for our ferries, roads, and vital transportation projects. Washington is unfortunately experiencing unexpected cost overruns on many transportation projects—including new vessels for our state’s iconic ferry system, new highway projects and maintenance of our roadways, and corrections to barriers that impede fish passage, a federal mandate for the state. In addition to the challenges with our ferries and roads, we are also still working on finding an appropriate vendor to build our new ferries, as well as dealing with worker shortages to build and fix our roadways.
These challenges are important to tackle as I firmly believe that having reliable infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. Right here at home, I’m particularly advocating for fixing the I-5 Nisqually River Bridge that is subject to flooding and can halt the flow of commerce and people in our area. I am also pushing for state funding for the Chambers Creek Bridge project.
And with all of these challenges come some added uncertainty as petitioners aim to repeal or change big pieces of recent legislation like the carbon market, capital gains tax, a payroll for long-term care, and limitations on police pursuits. I’ll be certain to keep you updated on these issues as this year’s legislative session plays out.
A Look at a Couple of my Priorities This Session
In addition to working on finding solutions to challenges within our state’s supplemental transportation budget, I will be supporting legislation that will make life easier for our military families and veterans, as well as for our tireless workers in emergency services.
I have introduced two bills that show my commitment to these honorable citizens among us. The first, House Bill 2091, would establish a fallen firefighter memorial. The second, House Bill 2245, would request the University of Washington School of Social Work to create a certificate or program for mental health co-responders. Mental health co-responders are already working with law enforcement and fire departments across the state, but the intention of creating a certificate program would make it easier to train and equip these vital workers and get more of them out in the field.
I’m happy to share with you that HB 2245 is already moving along, and public testimony was heard on Wednesday in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, which you can watch here on TVW.
Coming Up Next
Since I’ve been working for you in Olympia, fighting hard to keep health care accessible and affordable for working families, as well as generating living wage jobs and robust workplace protections. I’ll share updates with you on other bills I’ve introduced this session. One of those that will be highlighted is House Bill 1608, which already passed out of committee earlier this week.
Stay tuned—my next newsletter will reach your inboxes in about two weeks’ time.