Local lawmakers pleased parent rights, police pursuit legislation pass recent session


While 18th and 20th district legislators disagreed with many bills that passed during the 2024 short legislative session, which concluded March 7, the lawmakers were pleased that many area organizations will receive funding from the capital budget.

District 18 Reps. Stephanie McClintock (R-Vancouver) and Greg Cheney (R-Battle Ground) and 20th District Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), said that bills and initiatives that passed through the legislative session would bring positive changes to Washington, such as parental rights in public education and police pursuits, and negative ones, including legislation for sales of firearms.


As a member of the Washington House of Representatives Education Committee, McClintock oversaw the creation of bills to be passed to the state House and Senate. One piece of legislation, House Bill 2037, would have required all state public school grades six through 12 to learn about genocide, specifically the Holocaust, in world history curriculum. The bill did not pass the State Senate’s Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, McClintock said.

Rep. Travis Couture (R-Allyn) introduced the bill in support of Israel amidst the ongoing conflict and the widespread antisemitism taking place in the country. Legislators revised the bill, which changed its original intent, McClintock said.

“... It’s probably good that it died in the Senate because it was turning into something that was not intended,” she said.

McClintock was happy that Initiative 2081, which received over 400,000 signatures, passed the House and Senate during the session. The initiative addressed parental rights in education, allowing parents to opt their children out of activities involving discussion of sexual experiences, religion and mental health.

“I think that COVID was an eye opening time for parents when kids were at home and parents were seeing what their kids were learning and not learning,” McClintock said. “I think this just solidifies that parents are feeling out of control of their kids.”

Sale of firearms

House Bill 2118, which increases security requirements for licensed firearm dealers in the state, passed the House and Senate during the legislative session. The law requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) to have security cameras for video and audio surveillance during gun sales. McClintock opposed the bill, saying the imposed requirements would put Washingtonian FFLs out of business.

“I have a very close friend whose husband does that out of his home,” McClintock said. “He has enough business that he’s going to have to comply with all the security features, and they operate out of their home so my friends aren’t thrilled with putting all kinds of security features around their home.”

Parameters were added to the bill so that dealers who make under $1,000 a month will not have to comply with all security requirements. McClintock said that FFLs will not receive funding from the state to support the new requirements. The bill is awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature as of press time.

Employment and negotiations

Legislation regarding employment had its ups and downs, Mc- Clintock said. House Bill 1893, which died in the House, would have offered four weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to workers on strike. McClintock opposed the bill, saying it would have cost the state millions in taxpayer dollars.

“I don’t think we should pay people when they are negotiating,” McClintock said. “... It would have broken the bank as far as the employment securities department goes.”

Senate Bill 6069, which did pass, establishes “Washington Saves,” an automatic enrollment individual retirement savings account program. McClintock said that the bill requires employers to offer an Individual Retirement Account to employees if they do not offer a 401(k).

“I understand that the purpose is that people aren’t doing that, and they aren’t educated in planning for retirement,” McClintock said. “But we can’t just burden our small business owners [by] tasking them to educate their staff on that.”

Cheney sponsored a bill that passed the House and Senate that eliminated requirements for state employees to have a two or four-year degree for jobs that don’t normally require them in the private sector.

“The hope here is that we get more people into the workforce and fill in those jobs that are open, but also it gives more flexibility to the applicants,” Cheney said. “... Think of a WSDOT maintenance crew. You don’t need to have a college degree in order to be really good and efficient at helping clean up our highways and keeping our highways in good repair, right?”

Criminal justice

Cheney said the legislative session headed in the wrong direction regarding law and order. Cheney was pleased House Bill 2030, which he opposed, died in the House. It would have permitted convicted criminals currently serving their sentence to vote in elections and serve on juries.

“In my view, you should not be given the right to vote while you’re serving a prison sentence,” Cheney said. “You automatically get your vote back, and your right to serve on a jury is given back, immediately under state law when your prison sentence is done.”

Cheney said he disagreed with numerous bills regarding law and justice that moved to the governor’s desk for signature, however. He opposed House Bill 1493 because it allows some drivers to not receive prison sentences until their third DUI.

“I’m pretty concerned about that bill because the stats say that somebody drives dozens and dozens of times drunk before they’re ever pulled over,” Cheney said. “... To me not putting that person in jail sooner was a real problem.”

Braun, the Senate Republican leader, supported Initiative 2113, which passed during the session. The initiative reversed restrictions adopted by legislators in 2021 that limited law enforcement’s ability to initiate police pursuits.

“[The initiative] takes us back to requiring only reasonable suspicion for law enforcement to pursue, which is what the other 49 states in the union have,” Braun said.

Capital budget

Through 2024’s supplemental capital budget, 18th District legislators secured $18 million in funds for various projects.

Cheney, McClintock and Sen. Ann Rivers collaborated to secure $258,000 for Battle Ground School District’s distributed antenna system, to help first responders know immediately when a situation arises at various district buildings. As well, $400,000 was allocated to the Battle Ground Health Care clinic.

“They’ve moved into the new space over by Eaton and (state Route) 503, and this was a great way to help them pay off the remainder of their mortgage,” Cheney said. “They can utilize their funds to serve more and more people getting the medical and dental care that they need.”

Battle Ground Senior Center will receive $309,000 to fund much-needed maintenance and repairs, Cheney said.

In a press release, 20th District Rep. Peter Abbarno highlighted funds that were sent to his district.

“This budget makes significant investments in k-12 school construction, mental health facilities, housing and early learning activities,” he stated in the release.

Local projects receiving funds in the 20th District included La Center’s Wheel Club Community Center, which received $250,000 for remodeling.

“I think that’s going to be a great addition to the community down there, as they look at rebuilding their downtown and [reviewing] their master plan for the area,” Braun said. “I think it’s a great piece of a much larger plan.”

Cheney and McClintock were especially happy to see $16.2 million would go to the Madrona Recovery center, a Brush Prairie facility that will assist youths in recovering from substance abuse. McClintock said the new facility will replace the loss of Daybreak Youth Services, which was ordered to close by a Thurston County Superior Court judge last summer because it failed to comply with the Washington State Department of Health with its investigations of staff abuse and misconduct. McClintock said the new facility should fill a great need for substance abuse treatment in Southwest Washington.

In addition, $82.7 million in the capital budget was allocated for grants to fund behavioral health projects throughout Washington. Braun highlighted the capital budget’s success in addressing the need for substance abuse treatment.

“Tribes, in many ways, are leading the way on building these facilities. They’ve been able to act quick and get them in service faster… If you look at the numbers, no racial or ethnic group is more impacted in Washington state than Native Americans,” Braun said. “Tribes aren’t sitting still, we ought to be good partners with them in making sure we’re getting after it.”

Braun praised tribes across the state for providing behavioral health treatment to members in need, such as the Chehalis Tribe. Locally, the Cowlitz Tribe have opened a mobile treatment van to serve members throughout the area.

Cheney said bipartisan efforts led to legislators securing funds for so many state projects.

“What I’m really proud of is, when it comes to these types of projects, it’s not only Republicans looking out for the 18th [District], but it’s broadly Republicans and Democrats working together on these projects,” Cheney said. “So I think that bipartisanship matters. I think it’s really important, and I really appreciate how the delegation when it comes to Southwest Washington [collaborates].”

McClintock is a member of the capital budget, consumer protection and business and education committees in the state House of Representatives. Cheney serves on the state government and tribal relations, capital budget, civil rights and judiciary, and regulated substances and gaming committees. Braun is a member of the ways and means, labor and commerce, housing, and rules committees.