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Hey June, Don’t Make It Bad

By January 23, 2024Blog
Graphic of blog title "Hey June, Don't Make It Bad" with a stock image in the background of a group of coworkers led by a woman at the head of the table.


Welcome to Week 2 of 2024 leg session. Remember when your inbox was empty? Us too. Let’s pop some Tums for that anxiety gut rot and get into it.

Legislators hit the ground running last week and quite a few of our Top Ten are moving! Three of our bills have already passed out of their policy committees since last week’s Tally. Thanks for pushing those buttons and telling your legislators what matters most to you and your communities!

Last week we did a small cheer for the fact that Washington state now has the *second* most regressive tax code in the nation (behind, wait for it, Florida 🎉). This week, we get to continue our tiny cheers over the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear a case challenging Washington’s capital gains tax. Our economic progress is safe, for now.

Saddeningly, ne’er-do-wells remain on the move to change the future of Washington State but for the worse. This week the second of six Let’s Go Washington initiatives has been certified by the Secretary of State. These initiatives, bankrolled by megamillionaire Brian Heywood, aim to roll back some of our most innovative policies passed in the last several years including the Climate Commitment Act, capital gains tax, ban on vehicle pursuits, and more.

After this week’s top ten, we’ve got a breakdown of the new committee chairs—s/o to Sen. June Robinson (D-38), the new chair of Senate Ways and Means!

Take a Sad Committee and Make It Better

Our state legislators are elected in even-year elections so committee chair assignments have not shaken up very much this year. However, one big change happened when Senator Christine Rolfes (D-23) stepped down in August for an appointment to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and was replaced in the Senate by Representative Drew Hansen (D-23).

New committee chairs in 2024 include Senator June Robinson (D-38) as the Chair of Senate Ways & Means, Senator Nobles as the new Chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, and Representative Jamila Taylor (D-30) as Chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee (it only took until her third session before the House Democrats decided a Black woman attorney could reasonably lead the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee instead of another stale white man—seems like a no brainer to us).

Former Sen. Rolfes was the Ways & Means Chair before Sen. Robinson’s appointment. If we hadn’t made it clear already, we were repeatedly disappointed and discouraged by Rolfes. Ways & Means is a microcosm of the Senate floor where Democrat rule reigns mostly in theory. The Senate itself is a much more conservative, archaic body, which we mean totally metaphorically. 👀 The Washington Senate has historically been and continues to remain a big barrier when it comes to passing progressive policy for our communities.

We lost a lot of good soldiers (bills) under Rolfes, but Sen. Robinson has the opportunity to bring a new light to this committee. This year Sen. Robinson could pleasantly surprise us all by voting the wealth tax, Working Families Tax Credit expansion, or unemployment insurance for every worker out of her committee any time she wanted. That’s the kind of power committee chairs have, and in W&M it means Sen. Robinson holds the keys to both revenue and spending in the Senate.

As we are all undoubtedly aware, 2024 is an election year so Democrats may be hard-pressed to deviate from “playing it safe” to keep their majorities. We’ve heard all of these excuses plenty of times before. Bills are too expensive, too fast, too risky, too big, too soon, and just plain too much. But Sen. Robinson if you’re reading this, remember the movement you need is on your shoulder. It’s us, we’ve got your back, just do the right thing k thx love you.

Unfortunately, we’ll still have to battle one bad-acting vice chair with grand visions of being governor but feel hopeful seeing progressive champ Senator Joe Nguyen (D-34) lifted up to Sen. Robinson’s newly vacated vice chair seat in Ways & Means. Senators Robinson and Nguyen are both co-sponsors of the wealth tax so maybe it’s time to pass some progressive revenue measures finally. 👀


What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @WACommAlliance.
Keep up on the action and opportunities to get involved through our legislative newsletter, The Tally.