2024 Washington State Political Agenda

2024 is set to be the most significant election year in history, with about 4.2 billion people from 76 countries headed to the polls. Americans will go to the polls in November to elect a new president, and many states will hold local elections. Washington State is no exception—we’ve got a packed political agenda this year! The entire House, half the Senate, the Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Lands Commissioner, and 6th Congressional seat up for election. From a gubernatorial race to redistricting initiatives, here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

2024 Legislative Session

The first major democratic event in Washington State will be the 2024 Legislative Session which will start on Monday, January 8th, and will run for 60 days until Thursday, March 7th. Washington State’s 49 State Senators and 98 State Representatives will convene in Olympia to discuss, debate, and vote on new laws. As of this report, 491 bills and resolutions have been pre-filed in the House and Senate, covering topics from behavioral health, housing permitting, firearms regulation, public defense, public safety, professional licenses, waste management, climate change, workforce training, college access, paid sick leave, and more. Lawmakers have introduced 335 bills in the House and 274 bills in the Senate so far. Among them are rent control bills, including HB 2114 in the House and SB 5961 in the Senate. 

Housing 2.0

Washington State Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck dubbed 2023 the ‘Year of Housing’ because of the heavy legislative focus on the housing supply and housing affordability. Laws were passed that expanded middle housing, limited predatory delay, removed red tape around new condominium construction, and more. That work continues in 2024, which some people are calling the year of Housing 2.0, with a focus on transit-oriented development, rent stabilization (rent control), dedicated state revenue for housing and legalizing “co-living” housing.


Animating 2024’s session will be significant potential changes to the existing legislative district boundaries. A US District Court judge found the recent Redistricting Commission process violated the Voting Rights Act, particularly in the 15th Legislative District. Now, five different proposals to redraw the district and others around it are pending in court. These plans would ‘district out’ between four and eight Republican legislators, pitting some against incumbents in this year’s elections. A court decision on the new district lines is expected to come by early March, near the end of the regular legislative session. Whispers in the capital allege that this issue could, and should, force a special session, but Majority Democrats have so far signaled they have no interest in that. 

Supplemental Budget

For his last budget proposal to the Legislature as governor, Jay Inslee (D), in mid-December, released his 2024 proposed supplemental budget. Inslee proposed an overall increase of $2.5 billion in spending with a large portion of that spending going into affordable housing. His proposal included $400m for affordable housing and $464m for behavioral health.

Gubernatorial Race

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who was reelected for a third term in 2020, has announced that “it is time to pass the torch,” which means Washington State will have a new governor for the first time in 12 years. In the Governor’s race, Democratic Senator Mark Mullet is running in the primary as an underdog, but with significant business community support in the race against Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) and former King County Sheriff and Congressman Dave Reichert (R) for Governor.

Other Office Races

Unique political maneuvering will set off interesting dynamics in Olympia, especially in the Senate Democratic Caucus. Several members will take part in other statewide runs for office. Senators Kevin Van de Wege and Rebecca Saldaña are running against each other in the primary for Commissioner of Public Lands. In addition, Senator Manka Dhingra (D), chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, is running in a tough Democratic primary for Attorney General. Gov. Jay Inslee endorsed her opponent, former U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Also running for Attorney General is Republican Pete Serrano, a Pasco attorney who helped found a conservative nonprofit that has fought against state gun restrictions. Saldaña (D-37) and Van De Wege (D-24) are running for Lands Commissioner. MacEwen (R-35) and Randall (D-26) are vying for the 6th Congressional seat. Chambers (R-25) is running for Pierce County Executive. Representatives Chapman (D-24) and Ramos (D-5) are looking to move across the rotunda to the Senate.

Citizen Initiatives

Another political hot potato for majority Democrats will be six citizen initiatives that will appear on the 2024 November ballot. Hedge-fund manager Brian Heywood’s Let’s Go Washington has qualified all six of their initiatives to the legislature, potentially undoing some of the policies democrats are most proud to have passed in recent years. Upon verification and receipt of these initiatives, the legislature must choose one of the following three actions:

  • Adopt the initiative as proposed, allowing it to become law without a vote of the people.
  • Not act on the initiative, allowing a vote of the people in the 2024 General Election.
  • Propose an alternative ballot measure dealing with the same subject, sending it and the original for a vote of the people in the 2024 General Election.

These initiatives include repealing a variety of legislation passed since 2021, notably the Capital Gains Tax, the long-term care Payroll Tax, the state Climate Commitment Act, and vehicle pursuit authorization for law enforcement. These policies were part of the majority Democrats’ major priorities out of the 2022 elections. 

The state also continues to deal with the fallout of the Trueblood court decision, which found the state was taking too long to provide evaluations to defendants awaiting competency evaluation and holding them unconstitutionally. The legislature has struggled to pass legislation to relieve the existing backlog. In November 2023, the state paid $100 million in fines for being in contempt of the court decision.

There are of course hundreds of other issues in play, ranging from efforts to lower the threshold for impaired driving and hiring more law enforcement, to housing and homelessness issues and continued changes to the state’s urban zoning laws, taxes, and finance regulation.

Budget Revenue Forecasts

The state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council revenue forecast in November 2023 shows increases in revenue projections for the 2023-25 biennium. The previous quarter revenue forecast showed similar upticks. Budget writers say they are cautiously optimistic of future projections, and no major changes to the state budget are likely. Sen. June Robinson said this week that she will not support major new spending, and that the state has obligations now that are not being met. There will likely be proposals to implement a ‘wealth tax’ and to add an additional tier to the ‘real estate excise tax’, as well as conversations about lifting the ‘1% property tax limit’ for local governments.

Party Dynamics

The Washington State House is controlled by Democrats with a 58-41 margin, and Democrats control the Washington State Senate 29-20. 

Andy Billig (Spokane), Senate Majority Leader, remains in his position, and Laurie Jinkins (Tacoma) remains the House Speaker position. Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (West Seattle) continues to serve as House Majority Leader. 

House Republican Minority Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox (Yelm) stepped down from the position at the end of the 2023 session and Rep. Drew Stokesbary (Auburn) was elected in his place. Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) was elected as the Washington State Republican Party Chair after the 2023 session.

In committee leadership news, Ways & Means committee Chair Senator Christine Rolfes (Bainbridge) left her Senate seat to serve as a Kitsap County Commissioner at the end of the previous session. Senator June Robinson (Everett) was chosen to be the new Chair of Ways & Means, which handles the operating and capital budgets in the Senate, and Senator Joe Nguyen (West Seattle) was chosen as Vice Chair of the committee. 

Additionally, with Senator Rolfes’ departure, Representative Drew Hansen (Bainbridge) was appointed to her Senate seat, allowing a new face to be appointed to fill his House seat. Greg Nance from Bremerton was appointed to become a new 23rd legislative district Representative.

Senator Emily Randall (Bremerton), who is running for the 6th congressional district seat vacated by Derek Kilmer, will be stepping down as Chair of the Senate Higher Education committee. Higher Ed. committee Vice Chair Senator T’wina Nobles (University Place) is presumed to take her place.

Upcoming Dates:

  • January 31 – Policy Committee Cutoff
  • February 5 – Fiscal Committee Cutoff
  • February 13 – House of Origin Cutoff
  • February 21 – Opposite House Policy Committee Cutoff
  • February 26 – Opposite House Fiscal Committee Cutoff
  • March 1 – Floor Cutoff
  • March 7 – Last day of Regular Session

2024 is shaping up to be one of the most consequential years for democracy around the world and Washington State is no exception. Buckle up because 2024 will take us for an eventful political ride!

3 responses to “2024 Washington State Political Agenda”

  1. I really feel that the Green Tax that has put such high cost on gas.. Needs to be repealed. This is not just about gas cost, it has put burden on transportation costs for trucks, which in turn has cost, of groceries, food, and retail purchasing has gone sky high. We have the highest taxes in all of the US. Green Bill is not even proven science this a belief not a fact, and we the people are suffering. You also need to look at measure one that was passed in Pierce County as a Tenant Reform Bill, This should never been allowed on the ballot 1/2 the signatures were double, and this bill denies Due Process to Landlords, and will cause a server shortage in housing due to the nature of the law.

  2. We need more in our budget for police and first responders. We do not need additional funds going into DSHS, DOT. These are two of the largest line items in the state budget for funds. There is no transparency in DSHS or DOT budget we do not know where they are spending the money they receive from the State. I have to follow a Budget in business and personal life. These two organizations should have to make their budgets public. This in not unreasonable request. Please put commons sense back into spending the money that we the tax payer are giving to you.

  3. Measure 1 definitely needs to be relooked at. This measure is going to cause more housing shortages as owners are set to sell not rent. Too many owners are backing away and scared to rent to anyone. As a Property Manager this actually hurts the tenants more, so much of this measure impacts them because owners and landlords have to take more extreme measures to protect their investments.

    Also please help with putting money back into the middle class. Everything centers around lower class and taxing of upper class where the middle class that is doing all the work gets nothing. Time to make this state great again and get all parties working together again to better our state even further. Let’s quit running Washington residents out of here to Texas and Florida and let’s do things that make our hard-working Americans want to stay in this state.

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