Big day in Olympia

Greetings from Olympia,

Today is the last day of the 2024 legislative session and it’s been eventful to say the least. As I mentioned in my last e-newsletter, the legislative majority finally listened to the people, kind of. Of the historic 6 initiatives to the Legislature, they decided to hold public hearings on 3 of them and the turnout was incredible with overwhelming numbers of people signing up in favor of banning an income tax, allowing police to pursue suspected criminals and enshrining in law a parent’s rights to be involved in their children’s education.

There are still 3 other initiatives that will go straight to the November ballot. Those policies are arguably most damaging that they represent billions of dollars of new taxes and regulations. You can read more about all of the initiatives below.

I voted in support of the measures that came to the Senate floor.

Once the final budgets are approved, I’ll send another update outlining what’s changed in state spending and other notable legislation that will soon become law.

Fortunato Signature

Phil Fortunato

Fortunato FloorWe can’t afford to be a sanctuary state anymore

I introduced Senate Bill 6320 that would repeal Washington’s sanctuary status and other laws that have shielded violent criminals in the state illegally, including administrative barriers at courthouses, prohibiting arrests of unauthorized migrants at court facilities, and model policies developed by the state Attorney General aimed at, “limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law…”

“The impacts of illegal immigration in our state were bad enough when Democrats pushed to make Washington a sanctuary state. Proponents continue to conflate the issue and try to pigeonhole anyone who is opposed to illegal immigration as anti-immigrant. It’s nonsense. With the influx of millions of new unauthorized migrants and our state’s well-known status, the reality is that we can’t afford to be a sanctuary state anymore.”

Read more here. 

Housing ConstructionHousing Affordability?

I continue to serve as the ranking member on the Senate Housing Committee. For years, I’ve been pushing innovative policies that harness what our state is already doing to make a dent in the housing affordability crisis which is almost entirely government-imposed.

Starting in 1994 with the Growth Management Act and continuing almost unchecked for the past several years, the legislative majority has been doing everything it can to make housing more and more unaffordable. Ever-increasing regulations and taxes on the production of housing have continued to increase costs, making the homes that are available unaffordable to most families.

A recent study indicated that the state’s regulatory and tax burden increases the cost of building a new, average home by over $130,000. That’s over $935/ month at current interest rates. That means you have to make almost $4000/month in income just to pay for government. That doesn’t bode well for working families in need of housing security and I fear that without home ownership the legislature will create a permanent underclass of renters instead of homeowners.

Why isn’t anyone talking about the meteoric increase in property taxes? According to data from the State Auditor, property tax growth was 23% over the past 4 years. Do policymakers think that has no impact on housing costs? It does. This session the Republicans were able to block the Democratic majority’s attempt to increase property taxes by another $6 billion. Rest assured they will try again next year.

There are more productive and impactful policies the state should be pursuing to help housing in our state, and it starts with getting government out of the way.

Initiatives to the Legislature

Over 2.5 million signatures have been gathered for six initiatives to the Legislature that would reexamine various policies that have been forced on working families.

Since many of the underlying laws were passed, I’ve heard from constituents about the hardships they’re causing. It’s fitting that the people will get to have a say in the upcoming November election. Here are what the six initiatives would do.


Six Initiatives to the Legislature in 2024

  • Initiative 2081 – PARENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS (PASSED).  I-2081 would create greater government transparency and require schools and health-care providers to inform parents or legal guardians of services provided to a minor child.
  • Initiative 2111   BAN A PERSONAL INCOME TAX (PASSED).  I-2111 would ban a personal income tax in Washington. The people have said no to an income tax 11 straight times.
  • Initiative 2113  REASONABLE POLICE PURSUIT (PASSED). I-2113 is aimed at restoring reasonable police pursuits of criminals and suspects. I-2113 gives the Legislature the chance to restore officers’ ability to protect communities by pursuing suspects.
  • Initiative 2117   ELIMINATE THE 50 CENT GAS TAX.  I-2117 would repeal the nearly 50-cent/gallon gas tax created because of the Washington Climate Commitment Act, also known as cap-and-tax. The program has brought $1.8 billion into government but has done little to nothing to help the environment. It functions as a hidden gas tax, with no support for our roads.
  • Initiative 2109 – REPEAL THE CAPITAL GAINS INCOME TAX. I-2109 would save jobs at family businesses by repealing the capital gains income tax.
  • Initiative 2124 – END MANDATORY PAYROLL TAX. I-2124 would give Washingtonians the choice not to participate in the state’s so-called “long-term care” benefit, which is funded through a mandatory payroll tax. This initiative would give Washington workers the choice to opt out of this program if it does not work for them and their families.

I know this is a lot to digest and just a snippet of what I’m working on as your state senator. Please click here for more information about the initiatives.

Holly KhademiFuture leaders working in Olympia

Holly Khademi, a homeschooled 9th grader from Redmond, recently spent a week working as a page for the Washington State Senate at the Capitol in Olympia. Khademi was one of 21 students who served in the Senate during the sixth week of the 2024 legislative session.

I was honored to sponsor Holly for this opportunity. She did an excellent job helping me during her time in the state Senate and I hope she enjoyed learning about the legislative process firsthand.

Holly said that she was interested in law and politics which is why she wanted to go into the program. She also stated that she enjoyed learning in page school more about the process and other legislative business that she got to experience firsthand. Her favorite part was the mock trial and being able to tie in her passions for her speech and debate in a realistic way.

Holly, 14, is very passionate about speech and debate which she has been doing with her school for the past two years. She also loves to write, draw, study philosophy, and Volunteer at her church.