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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you had an opportunity to spend some quality time with your friends and family this holiday season. It is hard to believe the legislative session started on Monday.

As the 2024 legislative session gets underway, I urge you to stay engaged. The involvement of the 4th District and citizens across Washington help influence policies before the Legislature. Below are some helpful links for you during the legislative session.

Committee and floor calendars

Banning of gas-powered outdoor equipment

Many of you are watching what is happening in Olympia as evidenced by the numerous emails and phone calls I have received regarding House Bill 1868. This legislation would ban outdoor gas-powered equipment. I believe this bill would be devastating to small businesses, such as landscape and lawncare companies. There are several ways you can make your voice heard on this issue.

  • Contact the committee members on the House Environment and Energy Committee. Click here for that roster. You can also email the prime-sponsor directly.
  • Get updates on bills by clicking here. Once the bill is scheduled for a public hearing you can register to testify and/or submit written testimony.

I appreciate hearing from you on legislation we may be considering this session.

House Republican priorities

House Republicans remain committed to advocating for effective public policies that benefit our region and Washington state. Key priorities on our agenda include enhancing public safety, combating inflation, boosting our economy, making housing more affordable and strengthening our transportation infrastructure.  

Public safety will be a big focus as the three crime reports I have shared in previous email updates this interim have shown we lead the nation in retail theft, have the second highest property crime rate and auto thefts have increased significantly.

The rapid increase in violent crime is very concerning.

Below is a look at some concerning statistics regarding public safety in our state.

  • #51 in police officers per capita behind all states and D.C. (WASPC Report).
  • Homicide is up 96% since 2019 culminating in a new state record (WASPC).
  • 61% of violent crimes go unsolved (WA Criminal Justice Snapshot).
  • #1 state most impacted by retail theft (Forbes).
  • #2 for all property crime (Statista).
  • #3 for automobile thefts (KIRO).

Some of the solutions we have proposed include:

  • House Bill 1363 would reinstate vehicular pursuit laws so officers can chase individuals committing auto theft and property crime.
  • House Bill 1380 would provide recruitment and retention bonuses for police officers to improve both manpower and morale. 
  • House Bill 2202 would increase funding to counties and require them to meet minimum police officer staffing ratios designed to take us from last in the nation to middle of the pack.
  • House Bill 1456 would modify the definition of theft so that security officers could actually stop shoplifters when they conceal merchandise rather than only when they leave the store.

Prime-sponsored bills

While I am working on a number of issues, I have also introduced several bills this session. Below is a partial list of that legislation. I am working closely with colleagues from across the aisle to address any questions on my legislation. Getting bills passed in a short, 60-day session is not an easy task.

  • House Bill 1898 would streamline the process related to unemployment benefit charging. This is request legislation from the Employment Security Department. It had a public hearing on Tuesday.
  • House Bill 2078 would improve school safety for officials and school staff by increasing penalties for intimidation, threat of force or violence at higher education institutions and school-related athletic activities.
  • House Bill 2079 would improve school safety for officials and school staff by increasing penalties for intimidation, threat of force or violence at elementary and secondary schools and school-related athletic activities.
  • House Bill 2087 would help eliminate barriers to getting apprenticeship programs approved in our state. It would streamline the process and deter frivolous and unreasonable objections. I expect this bill to be scheduled for a public hearing next week.
Rep. Schmidt testifies on HB 1898 in the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the legislative session or any bills coming before us. Your input and feedback is greatly appreciated.

It is an honor and a privilege to represent the 4th Legislative District.

Suzanne Schmidt

State Representative Suzanne Schmidt, 4th Legislative District
468 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7820 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000