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2024 Washington State Legislative Recap

Recently, Washington state concluded a 60-day legislative session that commenced on January 8th. The agenda was ambitious, with housing affordability, public safety, and a newfound emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI) dominating discussions among legislators. As the session unfolded, over a dozen bills related to AI emerged, all of which garnered significant attention and engagement from the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA).

At the heart of WTIA’s mission is a commitment to shaping policies that position Washington at the forefront of the ever-evolving technology landscape, guided by principles of equity. Throughout the session, informed by our 2024 policy priorities, WTIA focused on three key areas: promoting economic development, fostering equitable innovation, investing in STEM education and workforce development, and supporting innovations that enhance community well-being.

Economic Development

AI took center stage in legislative deliberations, reflecting both the promise and perils of emerging technologies like generative AI. With bills addressing algorithmic bias, deep-fake imagery, and AI’s use across various sectors, WTIA collaborated with industry partners to ensure legislators understood the complexities of regulating AI without stifling innovation. The session culminated in the establishment of a task force to delve into these issues, signaling ongoing legislative attention to AI regulation in the coming years.

Beyond AI, WTIA advocated for economic initiatives such as reinstating semiconductor manufacturing tax credits and securing funding for the Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP). While progress was made, challenges remain, particularly regarding the ICAP funding allocation, highlighting the ongoing need for industry advocacy in economic policy debates.

Education and Workforce

In the realm of education and workforce development, WTIA supported measures to enhance student financial aid accessibility, streamline teacher licensure processes, and promote computer science education. While a bill establishing computer science as a graduation competency requirement did not pass this year, WTIA remains committed to ensuring students have exposure to and experience with computational thinking, and we look forward to advocating on this topic in future legislative sessions.

Thriving Communities

This session, significant strides were made in promoting equity and quality of life, including expanding gender pay equity provisions and advocating for retirement benefits legislation. WTIA was proud to work alongside our for-profit subsidiary, Portalus, on legislation to create an automatic IRA retirement account system for businesses that do not currently offer this important benefit to their employees. We worked with legislators to include a provision that ensures trade association and chamber of commerce retirement plans may participate in the state run system.

 

Looking ahead, WTIA is poised to continue its advocacy efforts, engaging with policymakers and stakeholders to shape policies that drive technological innovation, economic growth, and community prosperity in Washington state. Throughout the session, WTIA welcomed the chance to work with our members, partner associations, and policymakers on several topics, tracking and engaging on over 80 bills. For those interested in getting involved or learning more about policy work at WTIA, please reach out to Kelly Fukai, WTIA VP of Government and Community Affairs (kfukai@washingtontechnology.org), or Brittany Jarnot, WTIA Public Policy Manager (bjarnot@washingtontechnology.org).

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