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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This year’s 60-day legislative session ended on a largely positive note, with three citizens’ initiatives being approved by both the House and Senate. It’s always difficult to envision how sessions will go, especially being in the deep minority, but these victories serve as a reminder that change is possible and underscore the importance of working together to make a positive difference for our communities and state.

These citizen-driven initiatives, signed and championed by more than 400,000 Washingtonians, are now on their way to becoming law:

For much of session, we weren’t even sure if any of the six initiatives that were sent to us by the people would receive public hearings. Now, three of them are set to become law on June 6. A remarkable achievement.

The other three initiatives that came before the Legislature this year were not considered by the majority. That means they will be on the November ballot and voters will decide if they pass or not.

You can learn more about all six initiatives by clicking here.

Three of my bills signed into law

The other reason why this year’s session ended on a largely positive note is that three of my bills were approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

House Bill 1961 is aimed at deterring acts of animal cruelty through tougher criminal penalties for perpetrators. Under the bill, all instances of Animal Cruelty in the First Degree (RCW 16.52.205)—which is already a class C felony—will now be classified as a seriousness level III offense. This reclassification ensures perpetrators of these crimes will be held accountable by removing the possibility of inconsistent and potentially lenient sentencing.

By aligning penalties with the gravity of the offenses, House Bill 1961 is sending a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in Washington state. I am grateful for the individuals at Pasado’s Safe Haven, who played a pivotal role in the development and refinement of the bill’s language. This partnership underscores our shared commitment to ending animal cruelty in Washington. I look forward to continuing this important work in future sessions. House Bill 1961 goes into effect June 6.

House Bill 1962 will strengthen election integrity in Washington by introducing several key provisions to ensure accurate voter rolls. The provisions were crafted with input from state auditors and the Office of the Secretary of State.

  • Automatic address updates: Leveraging resources such as the Department of Licensing and postal services, the bill mandates automatic updates for voter addresses within the state, simplifying the process for individuals who relocate.
  • Proactive verification: The legislation implements confirmation notices and subsequent procedures to identify and remove inactive registrations, ensuring the maintenance of accurate voter rolls.
  • Seamless inter-county transfers: Streamlined protocols will facilitate the swift and accurate transfer of voter information when residents relocate between counties.

Through this bill, we are taking concrete steps to maintain accurate voter rolls to ensure every voice is heard and every vote counts. House Bill 1962 goes into effect June 1, 2025.

House Bill 1987 is focused on addressing the critical need for affordable workforce housing in Washington’s rural counties. It builds upon previous legislation enacted in 2022, which initially expanded the permitted uses of the rural public facilities sales and use tax to include affordable workforce housing infrastructure and facilities. My bill clarifies language and separates affordable workforce housing from the broader category of public facilities, ensuring a more targeted approach to addressing housing needs in rural areas.

Empowering rural counties to develop affordable workforce housing infrastructure will help break down barriers to economic mobility, lay the foundation for more investment in rural communities, and facilitate sustainable growth for years to come. The bill comes at a critical time as well, with many rural counties, including Skagit, experiencing heightened demand for affordable workforce housing options.

With the county facing the lowest housing vacancy rate in the state, House Bill 1987 was a top priority for the Skagit County Board of Commissioners this session. I want to thank all three commissioners for working with me to get the bill to the governor’s desk this session. We have much more to do, but the success of this bill underscores the importance of collaboration between state and local governments to enact positive change. House Bill 1987 goes into effect June 6.

Supplemental capital budget

The 2024 supplemental capital budget, which received unanimous approval in the House and Senate, will invest an additional $1.33 billion in K-12 school construction, higher education facilities, mental and behavioral health, public works projects, housing, and community projects.

Local investments include:

  • $4.5 million to the Skagit County Crisis Stabilization Center to complete its expansion, adding 48 additional behavioral health treatment beds.
  • $353,000 for fish passage barrier removal at Carpenter Creek and its tributary English Creek.
  • $300,000 for the Skagit PUD Olsen Creek Project to relocate public utilities in preparation for the construction of a WSDOT fish barrier removal project.
  • $257,000 for the removal of a fish passage barrier at the Pilchuck Tributary Watt Crossing.
  • $250,000 to design options for the removal of two fish passage barriers on Carpenter Creek at Cascade Ridge.
  • $103,000 for the Granite Falls Boys & Girls Club to upgrade the facility’s Wi-Fi and technology throughout the teen center.
  • $103,000 for the City of Lake Stevens for design and assessment of a multipurpose municipal services campus, including city council chambers.
  • $29,000 for a planning grant for Conway School District for the repair and/or replacement of lighting, windows, roof, HVAC, and electrical.

If you’d like more information about any of these projects, please send me an email at Sam.Low@leg.wa.gov.

Supplemental transportation budget

As the assistant ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, I know how much time and effort goes into crafting a bipartisan transportation budget that invests in the state’s most pressing needs. The 2024 supplemental transportation budget passed by the Legislature this session will provide an additional $1.1 billion on top of the $13.5 billion the 2023-25 transportation budget allocated last year, for a total of $14.6 billion.

Despite funding constraints, project delivery complexities and cost overruns, this budget maintains funding levels for approved projects while also addressing emergent issues within the transportation sector.
It also adopts a comprehensive approach to enhance public safety, focusing on recruiting and retaining Washington State Patrol troopers and implementing highway safety measures to address rising traffic fatalities. The budget also increases investments in maintenance and preservation initiatives to prolong the lifespan and functionality of the state’s critical transportation assets.

No budget is perfect, but the unanimous approval given by every member in the House and Senate tells me we’re on the right track with our priorities.

The dedication of the Oso Slide Memorial

March 22 marked the 10-year anniversary of the devastating Oso landslide, which claimed 43 lives and forever changed the Oso community. Rep. Eslick and I had the privilege of being in attendance on the 22nd for the dedication of the Oso Slide Memorial, which honors those who were lost, the survivors, the responders, and the surrounding communities. We issued a statement later in the evening:

“We were deeply moved today as we witnessed the dedication of the Oso Slide Memorial, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the devastating Oso landslide. Seeing the site, talking to those who were impacted, learning more about those we lost, and experiencing the unveiling of the memorial are things we’ll never forget.

“In the presence of families, our incredible first responders, and all who came to pay their respects, we mourned and remembered the 43 individuals we lost. Yet, amidst our sorrow, we continue to find solace in tales of heroism and resilience and the enduring spirit that emerged from the depths of tragedy.

“This memorial will stand forever, not only as a tribute to those who lost their lives, but as a testament to the astounding courage and fortitude that defined the response of our community. May it serve as a reminder of the fragility of life, the strength of community, and the enduring power of compassion.

“We will forever honor the lives lost, support the survivors, and cherish the bonds forged in the darkest of hours. We will forever be Oso Strong.”

Staying in touch

Although session is over, please know I’m here to serve you year-round. I encourage you to continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and 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
representativesamlow.com
430 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
sam.low@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000