GAC Focuses on 2024 Election Issues at April Meeting

Posted By: Ryan Makinster Advocacy News,

With legislative session over, the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), recently turned its focus to a few important election year issues; the Ban the Gas Ban Initiative, the Eastern Washington redistricting quagmire, and the campaign to elect Senator Mark Mullet as Washington’s next Governor.

Jan Himebaugh, Managing Director of External Affairs for the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), highlighted the results of a recent statewide poll regarding residential natural gas use and support for an Energy Choice Initiative protecting the use and supply of natural gas in Washington. The poll showed that 78% of respondents felt that homeowners should have the choice of receiving natural gas in their homes. 77% also supported a ballot measure that would ensure homeowners and restaurants can use natural gas for cooking and heating.  As housing providers, the current and continued use of natural gas is an important topic that, depending on how it is addressed, will have impacts on the cost of providing housing as well as the cost of living for our residents. The GAC voted unanimously to contribute $5,000 to the initiative effort.

The committee was also joined by Joe Fain, President and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber to discuss a recent poll regarding public perceptions of Bellevue’s economy, business environment, and city planning as well as a statewide poll regarding the capital gains tax and carbon tax repeal and to gauge support or opposition to rent control. Unfortunately, a majority of respondents supported cities and counties being able to implement local rent control.

Fain and Paul Graves, President of Enterprise Washington, joined forces to update the committee on the changes to Legislative District 15th. In August, US District Court Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that the 15th Legislative District in Central Washington, drawn by the Washington State Redistricting Commission in 2021, diluted voting power for Latinos in the region, siding with the plaintiffs in Palmer v. Hobbs.

Although the intent of the redrawn map was to protect the voting power of Latino voters, the new map actually includes a smaller percentage of Latino voters than the Latino-majority district drawn by the commission. Under the new map, Nikki Torres R-Pasco, the first Hispanic senator in Eastern Washington history was drawn out of the district she currently represents.

Graves also updated the committee on the Coalition for Pragmatic Leadership, apolitical action committee formed to support Senator Mark Mullet for Governor. Mullet is endorsed by WMFHA in his race for Governor and as a long-time champion of the industry, was named WMFHA Legislator of the Year in 2023. If you are interested in supporting Mark Mullet for Governor or the Coalition for Pragmatic leadership, please contact WMFHA Director of Government Affairs, Ryan Makinster.