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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Before I get into policy matters, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be hosting two town hall meetings with Sen. Keith Wagoner and Rep. Carolyn Eslick on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Concrete Town Hall
Time: 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Concrete Theatre (45920 Main Street)

Marysville Town Hall
Time: 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Marysville Pilchuck High School Auditorium (5611 108th St. NE)

During the 90-minute town halls, the three of us will provide an update on this year’s legislative session and take your questions. If you would like to submit a question in advance, please feel free to email me at Sam.Low@leg.wa.gov. I hope to see you on the 17th!

First major deadline; an update on my bills

We just passed the first major deadline of the 2024 legislative session, which is known as policy committee cutoff. All bills not deemed necessary to implement the budget were required to have been passed out of their respective policy committees by yesterday evening. Thankfully, a number of my bills survived this initial cutoff, including one that has already been approved by the state House.

House Bill 1961 would strengthen penalties for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty in Washington state by classifying all acts of Animal Cruelty in the First Degree (RCW 16.52.205) as a seriousness level III offense. It is my belief that inconsistency in sentencing only benefits abusers. My bill would establish a clear legal framework for these horrific cases, ensuring those who inflict suffering on defenseless animals face consequences that reflect the severity of their crimes. Last week, House Bill 1961 was approved 95-1 by the House and is now over in the Senate for further consideration.

House Bill 1962 would modernize the state’s voter registration system by streamlining the process for voters to update their registration when moving, eliminating outdated information, and ensuring seamless transfers between counties. Ensuring accurate voter rolls is fundamental to fair and trusted elections, and I believe this bill would help safeguard the integrity of every vote cast. House Bill 1962 is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting further action.

House Bill 2126 is focused on solving our housing crisis by allowing counties to authorize the development of detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on any size lot, regardless of existing zoning restrictions. ADUs, often referred to as mother-in-law units or guest houses, are smaller, more affordable to build, and can be constructed quickly, making them ideal for addressing immediate housing needs. This bill has been placed on the second reading calendar by the House Rules Committee, which means it may come up for a vote on the House floor at any time.

House Bill 1987 would help rural counties address the urgent need for affordable workforce housing by allowing the use of rural public facilities sales and use tax revenue to finance the construction of affordable workforce housing infrastructure and facilities. This is a priority bill for Skagit County, which has the lowest vacancy rate in the state. If we can get it passed, House Bill 1987 would allow Skagit and other rural counties to construct housing units, invest in essential infrastructure surrounding housing developments, or acquire land for future development. The bill was approved in the House Local Government Committee on January 19 and is likely to be approved in the House Finance Committee tomorrow.

Six initiatives will be on November ballot

Since January 11, six initiatives to the Legislature have been certified by the Secretary of State.

Initiative 2113: reverses the Democrats’ restrictive police pursuit law, restoring the ability of our men and women in law enforcement to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed.

Initiative 2117: repeals the carbon tax passed by Democrats in 2021, which caused the price of gas to skyrocket, including to more than $5 per gallon last summer (Washington still has the third-highest gas prices in the nation).

Initiative 2081: establishes a “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” outlining various rights for parents and legal guardians of public schoolchildren, including access to educational materials, records, medical information, notifications, and the ability to opt-out of certain activities and classes.

Initiative 2109: repeals the capital gains income tax passed by Democrats in 2021.

Initiative 2111: prohibits state and local personal income taxes.

Initiative 2124: allows all Washington workers to opt-out of the Democrats’ long-term care insurance program and payroll tax, which is costing the average Washingtonian hundreds of dollars per year.

House Republicans tried to push for public hearings on all six initiatives, making the argument that Democrats had both a moral and constitutional obligation to hold such hearings and give Washingtonians a voice. While our efforts were rebuffed, that simply means the initiatives will be on the ballot in November.

Legislative sessions are about priorities

Earlier this session, one of the most shocking bills I’ve seen during my time as a state lawmaker came before the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee, of which I’m a member. Because they’re in the majority, Democrats choose which bills receive public hearings. One that made the cut was House Bill 2030, which would allow the state’s worst criminal offenders to serve as jurors, vote, and run for office.

When it came time for the bill sponsor to answer questions, I had one that was very simple:

“Would Gary Ridgway’s rights be restored with this bill?”

The sponsor responded: “Yes, they would.”

Legislative sessions are about priorities. At a time when we face more crises than ever, including a devastating public safety crisis, it is unconscionable that we would do anything to hurt victims and support criminals—especially murderers and rapists. This is a shameful bill and I was glad to see it die when cutoff hit yesterday, but it never should have received a public hearing in the first place.

I recently joined radio host Lars Larson and podcast host Carrie Abbott to discuss this bill at length.

Honored by the Washington Farm Bureau

Earlier this session, I was honored to be recognized by the Washington Farm Bureau for my voting record during last year’s legislative session in support of Washington’s agriculture community. Agriculture is crucial to so many of us in the 39th, and it is vital the industry remains strong.

As long as I’m a state lawmaker, I will continue supporting policies that protect farmland, invest in infrastructure, promote innovation, and connect consumers to producers. I’m proud to be a friend of the Farm Bureau.

Contacting me

Please continue reaching out with any comments, questions or concerns. My email address is Sam.Low@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7967.

It is an honor to serve you.

Sam Low

State Representative Sam Low, 39th Legislative District
430 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000