Mar 8, 2024 - Politics

A few big things Washington legislators passed in 2024

Illustration of the Washington State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Washington state lawmakers adjourned a 60-day session Thursday after passing new gun control measures, three citizen initiatives and bills to try to curb the use of fentanyl.

Here's a closer look at a few things they did.

Gun bills

Lawmakers approved legislation to ban guns at public libraries, zoos, aquariums and transit stations, plus another bill that will make it a civil infraction to fail to report a stolen or lost firearm within 24 hours.

Yes, but: A measure that would have required people to get a permit before buying a gun fizzled out.

Initiative action — and inaction

The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed three Republican-backed citizen initiatives, which are now set to become law in June without having to go to voters.

Lawmakers punted on three other proposed initiatives, including ones to repeal the state's capital gains tax and cap-and-trade law, which will go to voters in November.

Limiting book bans

A measure headed to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk aims to slow conservative efforts to ban books in classrooms and school libraries.

  • The bill says that school officials can't ban library books or course materials solely because the material focuses on protected classes, such as Black, Hispanic, Indigenous or LGBTQ people.
  • The legislation also requires school districts to set up a formal process for challenging educational materials, while blocking challenges from people who aren't parents or guardians of students in the district.

Housing bills

Lawmakers passed a bill to make it easier to construct small condominium buildings, along with another measure to explore building code changes that would allow smaller housing units.

  • Another proposal headed to Inslee's desk would require cities to allow "co-living" or "micro-housing" where people share kitchens but have their own bedrooms.

Several other high-profile housing proposals failed to pass, including a measure that would have capped annual rent increases.

Fentanyl overdoses

Lawmakers approved a plan to launch a statewide overdose prevention campaign, as well as a dedicated fund to fight opioid overdoses among tribal members.

  • Another bill aims to have public schools teach students more about the dangers of opioid use.
  • The Legislature also increased money in the state budget for opioid treatment and behavioral health programs.

Transportation dollars

Lawmakers approved about a $1 billion boost to the state transportation budget, trying to keep highway projects on track despite ballooning cost projections.

  • That includes an additional $196 million for ferries; another $275 million for the I-405 and State Route 167 corridor; and $78 million for improvements along State Route 520 in Seattle.

Another $150 million aims to keep the state on track to replace hundreds of fish-blocking culverts by 2030, in line with a federal court order.

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