A prayer for cooperation and compassion as Washington's 2024 legislative session begins
The Washington State House started the 2024 legislative session Monday with messages of unity, as well as condemnation of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Shortly after the gavel fell marking the start of the session, two Olympia religious leaders offered the opening prayer, starting with Rabbi Seth Goldstein.
"May you have compassion for your fellow citizens, their struggles and their hopes, especially those that feel threatened and alone," he said.
Imam Omar Kaddoura echoed that sentiment.
"So spark between us cooperation, so that we may fulfill our responsibilities as stewards of this world," he said.
The prayer preceded remarks from Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, who made a point to condemn antisemitism and Islamophobia. She also praised the work state lawmakers have done to strengthen the state's hate crime laws.
State lawmakers then got off to a quick start, with the House passing three bills only minutes after opening speeches.
Jinkins said she's optimistic about tackling priority issues, such as housing, behavioral health, and opioids. She said many of these issues are interconnected.
"Our challenges don't exist in silos, and our solutions cannot exist in silos," Jinkins said.
Meanwhile, House Republican Leader Drew Stokesbary struck a different tone in his opening remarks, citing concerns about crime and education.
"We are confronting a catalog of crises here in Washington state," Stokesbary said.
The legislative session is just 60 days long, but lawmakers can pick up where they left off last year on certain bills. That's how the House passed three very different bills right away: to boost housing supply; ramp up support for extreme weather events; and end child marriage. The Senate will consider those bills next.