Three initiatives to get hearings in Olympia

Your chance to tell lawmakers what you think of banning income taxes, restoring police pursuits and increasing parental rights

The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Shelly Short’s subscribers Feb. 22, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Short’s e-newsletters, click here.


Dear Friends and Neighbors,


We’ve had a big surprise at the statehouse. There will be legislative hearings on three of the six initiatives submitted by the people this year to the Washington Legislature. Our colleagues in the Democratic majority have decided to schedule these hearings next week, just days before our 2024 session is scheduled to adjourn.

This is a fascinating development after nearly two months of silence, and there is no telling where it will lead. Will our colleagues permit votes to take place on the House and Senate floors? Will these measures be allowed to pass?

No one knows, but these questions will have to be answered before we adjourn on March 7. This is your chance to let the Legislature know what you think of three big issues – banning income taxes, restoring police pursuits, and increasing parental rights. The Legislature’s sign-up system allows you to put your opinion on the record.

The links below lead to Web pages that let you tell the Legislature where you stand. On each page, click on “select agenda item” and choose the initiative listed. You can sign in to register your opinion, present written testimony, or testify, either in-person or remotely. Registration closes one hour before each hearing begins.


Initiative 2111 – Banning state income taxes – 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, House Hearing Room A, Olympia.

I-2111 would ban a personal income tax in Washington. The people have voted no on an income tax 11 straight times.

Click here to watch this hearing on TVW, live or repeat.


Initiative 2081 —  Parental Bill of Rights – 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, House Hearing Room A, Olympia.

I-2081 would create greater government transparency and require schools and health-care providers to inform parents or legal guardians of services provided to a minor child.

Click here to watch this hearing on TVW, live or repeat.


Initiative 2113 – Restoring police pursuits – 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, Senate Hearing Room 4, Olympia.

I-2113 restores the ability of police to pursue criminals and suspects, based on a standard of “reasonable suspicion.” Most police pursuits were banned in 2021, though some have been restored for specific violent crimes.

Click here to watch this hearing on TVW, live or repeat.


For more information about this year’s initiatives, click here.

Next steps

Under our constitution, there are only three options when initiatives are submitted to the Legislature. It can pass them, it can reject them and allow them to proceed to the ballot, or it can vote to place alternative measures on the ballot.

There is some speculation that our Democratic colleagues might be willing to pass these three measures, even though they challenge keystones of the “progressive agenda.” But they won’t be hearing three other measures that affect taxes, meaning those measures are sure bets to advance to the ballot. They are:

  • Initiative 2117 – Repealing cap-and-trade, which has boosted gas prices about 50 cents a gallon.
  • Initiative 2109 – Repealing the capital gains income tax, Washington’s first stab at an income tax, and a major hit on small business and tech startups.
  • Initiative 2124 – Ending the mandatory payroll tax for long-term care, by allowing Washington workers to opt out of the troubled WA Cares insurance program.

The fact that three of the people’s initiatives will be getting hearings at long last is a pleasant surprise. It’s unfortunate all six won’t be heard. The hearings set up a fascinating drama for the Legislature’s final days – stay tuned!


Video update:

How not to solve an affordable housing crisis

Rent control and an increase in real estate taxes are being touted as solutions to our state’s affordable housing crisis — instead they would make the problem worse.

In my latest video update, I discuss two bills that are being pitched as solutions to Washington’s shortage of affordable housing. Unfortunately, increasing the real estate excise tax and imposing rent control won’t deal with the real issues – and the problem would only deepen. To see this update, click here.

A couple of weeks ago in Olympia, we celebrated the defeat of a proposal that would have allowed local property taxes to increase three times faster than they already do. Within a few years this would have become the biggest tax increase in state history. I think most of us in the Legislature recognized this would have increased the cost of homeownership at a time when affordable housing is in short supply.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. Proposals to increase the real estate excise tax and impose rent control remain in play during the final weeks of our 2024 legislative session. These proposals have something in common. Both of these ideas are supposed to fix our affordable housing crisis, and instead they only make our problems worse.

Washington needs 1 million homes

The problem is that we’re not building enough housing. The state Department of Commerce tells us we are going to need 1 million new homes over the next 20 years to meet the demand.

Increasing the real estate excise tax isn’t the answer. SB 6191 and HB 2276 pay for public housing by increasing the tax on the sale of more expensive properties – about $125 million a year by 2028. This includes apartments, so this increases pressure for higher rents. This won’t increase the supply of housing for the middle class.

Meanwhile, rent control treats the symptom, but not the underlying problem. Rents are rising fast because of our housing shortage, and many people are struggling to keep up. Unfortunately, HB 2114 is no answer. Limiting rent increases would provide short-term relief for tenants, but it would discourage investment and suppress the development of new rental properties. It wouldn’t get anything built. Ultimately it would worsen the shortage and limit the availability of housing.

If we want to solve this problem, we need to re-examine land-use policies that reduce availability of building sites and drive prices up. We must take a hard look at permitting processes and fees that make new construction less affordable. Until we address the underlying reasons preventing construction from meeting demand, we will never get a handle on the problem.

Thanks for reading — it is an honor serving you!







Sen. Shelly Short, 7th Legislative District


Contact me!

Telephone: (360) 786-7612


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

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Legislative Hotline: 1 (800) 562-6000