Property tax hike is blocked in Senate

$6 billion tax increase stalls when Senate Republicans sound warning, public responds

The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Shelly Short’s subscribers Feb. 12, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Short’s e-newsletters, click here.

I was proud to stand with the Senate Republican Caucus last week as we sounded the warning about SB 5770. At a time when the state has an affordable housing crisis, this massive increase in property taxes would have made housing even more expensive. Support for this bill crumbled under enormous public pressure that helped convince our majority Democratic colleagues a massive tax increase was a terrible idea in an election year. You can see our news conference by clicking here.


Dear friends and neighbors,

Here’s some good news from Olympia! The most damaging proposal of this year’s session has been stopped dead in its tracks.

A bill that would have permitted the biggest tax increase in state history faltered Friday just before an expected vote in the state Senate. SB 5770 would have allowed local property taxes to increase at triple the current rate, without a vote of the people. The bill would have repealed a limit on the growth of property taxes approved by Washington voters in 2001. Over time, the effect would have been enormous. In 10 years, this would have been a $6 billion increase, and the effect would have continued to compound, year after year.

This was the biggest fight we have seen so far in our 2024 legislative session. The bill was supported by government interests and sponsored by 18 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The primary idea was to continue the reckless spending patterns we have seen in King County and other urban areas. Local-government taxes, on the whole, have been increasing faster than inflation and population growth, and cities and counties have always had the option of asking their voters to approve more. But local government officials in urban areas recognized they would have trouble getting voters to say yes. The issue was really whether the people should have a say in how they are taxed.

I think the credit for stopping this bill goes to the people of Washington. An astounding 9,300 people signed in to register their opinion on this bill when it was heard in committee, and 92 percent were opposed. As the Senate vote approached, legislative offices were inundated with phone calls and emails. What happened here shows that the people’s voices do matter.


Still no word on six initiatives

Majority may take no action on six measures demonstrating public dissatisfaction with taxes, crime, gas prices and central control of schools

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that six initiatives have been presented to the Legislature for action this session, presenting a challenge to the ‘progressive’ agenda advanced by my colleagues these last several years. We still don’t know what will happen with these measures, or whether our Democratic colleagues will take any action.

These measures are another indication of public discontent with Olympia’s direction, and they may have contributed to our colleagues’ decision to back off on their proposed property tax increase. More than 2.6 million signatures were collected to place these measures before the Legislature this year. These measures demonstrate public frustration with higher taxes, higher gasoline prices, higher crime, and greater government control over our daily lives.

These initiatives continue to overshadow everything we do in the House and Senate this year. The state constitution says that when the people present initiatives to the Legislature, they are supposed to take priority over everything except the budget. Yet our majority colleagues are standing as still as a deer in the headlights. They still haven’t told us whether there will be hearings on these measures, much less a vote. There isn’t much time left. Keep in mind, if the Legislature fails to approve these measures before our regular session ends on March 7, all six of these measures will advance to the November election ballot. That gives the people the final say.


Bills reform land-use laws, improve commercial services in rural areas

Three bills pass state Senate that improve flexibility for areas like ours

Near Oroville, Wash.

Where land-use rules are concerned, I’ve always said that one size does not fit all. State laws regarding development and growth need to be flexible, especially in rural areas like north-central and northeastern Washington.

That’s the basic idea behind three bills I introduced this session. All three have won unanimous approval in the Senate, and move on to the House for further consideration.

Senate Bill 6140 increases the allowable square footage of rural stores and restaurants located more than 10 miles from an urban area, at crossroads and other areas where commercial development is permitted. The bill allows square footage of up to 10,000 square feet when a business supplies an essential rural service – such as grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware or auto and equipment repair. Under current law, the businesses are limited to either 2,500 or 5,000 square feet.

Senate Bill 5834 allows counties and cities to adjust urban growth boundaries annually, rather than waiting for 10-year revisions to their comprehensive land-use plans. The rule change applies to the 28 counties that are required to adopt comprehensive plans under the state’s Growth Management Act. Total acreage earmarked for development could not increase, and other restrictions would apply. The measure would allow county and city governments to respond to existing development needs and continue protection of critical areas.

Senate Bill 5869 eliminates minimum lot-size requirements when land is subdivided for construction of rural fire stations. The bill would allow fire stations to be built on lots of two acres or less, as long as other conditions are met.

Thanks for reading — it is an honor serving you!





Sen. Shelly Short, 7th Legislative District

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Telephone: (360) 786-7612


Mailing address: P.O. Box 40407/ Olympia, WA/ 98504

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Legislative Hotline: 1 (800) 562-6000