Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Mark your calendars! On Saturday, Feb. 17, I will be hosting a town hall meeting at Pierce College with Sen. Chris Gildon and Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen. During the meeting, the three of us will be providing an update on this year’s legislative session and taking your questions. If you’d like to submit a question in advance, please feel free to email me at Kelly.Chambers@leg.wa.gov. I hope to see you on the 17th!
Four of my bills have a chance to get to the governor’s desk this session
We just passed two major deadlines in this legislative session, policy and fiscal committee cutoff. All bills that have not advanced out of their respective policy and fiscal committees are now considered dead for the year. Thankfully, four of my bills survived these cutoffs.
House Bill 2271
House Bill 2271 is focused on transparency with the state’s Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Program, also known as the WA Cares Fund.
The new long-term care payroll tax attached to the WA Cares Fund took effect in July 2023. I know people are divided about being required to contribute part of their paycheck to this tax. No matter what side of the debate you fall on, you deserve to know how much you’re paying and what benefits you may be entitled to. Under my bill, the Employment Security Department (ESD) would be required to send an annual statement with the following information to each employee paying into the WA Cares Fund:
- How much money an employee has paid into the program in the last year and how much they’ve paid into it since its inception.
- The number of years an employee has worked the minimum number of hours required under the program.
- Program information, including how to become eligible for benefits, how the contribution system works, current benefit and contribution levels, how to check and correct information, and important updates.
This bill would ensure workers receive clear, personalized information about their participation, voluntary or not. Transparency and accountability should be at the forefront of everything we do here in Olympia.
House Bill 2339
Washington is facing a critical long-term care workforce shortage that is leaving many seniors and individuals with disabilities struggling to access the care they need.
House Bill 2339 would ease home care aide and nursing assistant certification renewal requirements in an effort to ensure qualified individuals join and remain in the field. Under the bill, the certification renewal period would be extended from one to two years, eliminating the burden of yearly renewal requirements and providing greater flexibility for caregivers.
As someone who works in the home care industry, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can to alleviate pressure on caregivers, attract new talent to this critical profession, and ensure our most vulnerable have access to the care they need when they need it.
House Bill 2363
House Bill 2363 would allow Washington’s small breweries and wineries to expand their reach and connect with customers through mobile taprooms and tasting rooms, bringing local brews and vintages directly to consumers. Under the bill, breweries, microbreweries, and wineries would be able to apply for a special endorsement on their licenses, allowing them to set up shop beyond their brick-and-mortar spaces.
Key provisions of the bill:
- Creates a new, affordable endorsement for mobile breweries and wineries. For just $50 per year, licensed producers could serve alcohol at indoor or outdoor locations already used by food trucks.
- Supports local economies. Allowing for mobile taprooms and tasting rooms would bring new customers and also provide revenue to nearby restaurants, farmers markets, and other businesses, such as food trucks.
- Requires community input. Local governments and nearby schools, churches, and institutions would have a say in where mobile taprooms and tasting rooms could set up.
- Ensures responsible service: Trained staff with certified alcohol server permits would help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Our state is home to some of the best breweries and wineries in the nation. This bill is about giving these businesses, many of which are small startups, the flexibility to grow and showcase their products, while also supporting tourism and economic development in communities throughout Washington.
House Bill 1299
House Bill 1299 would allow 18-20 year-olds to work in production and manufacturing roles at breweries and distilleries. It’s an effort I’ve been working on since 2021, when my near-identical legislation pertaining to the wine industry was signed into law. That bill, HB 1289, allows 18-20 year-olds to work in production and manufacturing roles at wineries. House Bill 1299 would extend the same opportunity to employees and student interns of breweries and distilleries, helping them develop skill sets, opening up career pathways, and building a brighter future for Washington’s brewers and distillers.
To engage in production and manufacturing work, interns would be required to be enrolled in brewing and distilling classes or programs at community colleges, technical colleges, and regional or state universities. Employees and interns would be prohibited from having involvement in sales, tasting, or consumption of alcohol, and would be required to be supervised by an adult 21 years of age or older.
By allowing our young people to gain hands-on experience in these businesses, we can give them a chance to learn valuable skills in an industry they’re passionate about while also creating a pipeline of skilled workers for years to come.
Six initiatives will be on the ballot in November
Since January 11, six initiatives to the Legislature have been certified by the Secretary of State, each of which was signed by more than 400,000 Washingtonians. When House Republicans presented the majority with six different opportunities to hold public hearings on the initiatives and give Washingtonians a voice, we were met with resistance and told there wasn’t enough time for hearings.
Legislative sessions are about priorities. We had time to hold public hearings. It’s unfortunate Democrats aren’t interested in hearing from you on these critical issues.
Initiative 2113 would reverse the Democrats’ restrictive police pursuit law, restoring the ability of our men and women in law enforcement to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed.
Initiative 2117 would repeal the carbon tax passed by Democrats in 2021, which caused the price of gas to skyrocket, including to more than $5 per gallon last summer (Washington still has the third-highest gas prices in the nation).
Initiative 2081 would establish a “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” outlining various rights for parents and legal guardians of public schoolchildren, including access to educational materials, records, medical information, notifications, and the ability to opt-out of certain activities and classes.
Initiative 2109 would repeal the capital gains income tax passed by Democrats in 2021.
Initiative 2111 would prohibit state and local personal income taxes.
Initiative 2124 would allow all Washington workers to opt-out of the Democrats’ long-term care insurance program and payroll tax, which is costing the average Washingtonian hundreds of dollars per year.
The good news is all six of these initiatives will be on the ballot in November. You’ll have the opportunity to make your voice heard then.
Meetings here at the Capitol
Throughout session, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with so many incredible Washingtonians who are all working to make our state a better place to live. From top left to bottom right:
- Employees of the Washington Wine Institute
- Constituents taking part in Washington Realtors Legislative Days
- Students from Associated Students of Washington State University
- Members of the Association of WA Spirits and Wine Distributors
- Chiefs and Commissioners from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue and Graham Fire & Rescue
If you ever want to meet with me here at the Capitol or in district, please email my legislative assistant Dianna Hawkins and we’ll make it happen!
Rogers High School student serves as page in state House
One of the things I love most about my job is having the opportunity to sponsor young people like Rogers High School student Ellyson Switzer as pages in the state House. Ellyson recently spent a week here on the Capitol Campus assisting House members with various duties on the chamber floor, making deliveries throughout campus, and supporting member offices. She also attended Page School, where she learned about the Legislature and lawmaking process. I want to thank Ellyson for her servant leadership! She is a promising young leader and our community is lucky to have her.
To serve as a page in the Washington State House of Representatives, students must be at least 14 years of age and have not reached their 17th birthday. Pages work a 40-hour week, earn a stipend of $65 a day, and can earn up to 20 hours of community service.
- House Page Program | FAQ
- Legislative Page Programs and Page School
- Gina Grant Bull Memorial Legislative Page Scholarship Program
Opportunity to weigh in on planned roundabout for SR 162 at Orville Road
Last Thursday, the Washington State Department of Transportation sent out a press release encouraging Pierce County residents to weigh in on its plan to replace the existing intersection on SR 162 at Orville Road with a new single-lane roundabout.
The project is part of WSDOT’s routine review of rural intersections on the state highway system. The goal is to find ways to reduce potential crashes. In its release, WSDOT wrote: “Studies show roundabouts are safer than intersections with traffic signals or stop signs. Roundabouts reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes while also keeping people moving.”
Public feedback received during the online open house, which is open now through Feb. 15, will help WSDOT finalize the design of a single lane roundabout.
Staying connected and contacting me
As this year’s 60-day session continues, I encourage you to sign up for text alerts and follow us on Twitter (now X), Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You can also bookmark my legislative website, where you’ll find my latest press releases, video updates, radio interviews, and more.
Please also continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is Kelly.Chambers@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7948.
It is an honor to serve you!