The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Pullman City Council outlines legislative agenda

2024 priorities include economic development, transportation and livability
City Councilor Nathan Weller said mental health care is his number one priority going into the 2024 legislative session.

At the Oct. 24 Pullman City Council meeting, the legislative agenda of the city was released and it includes some items that will impact students.

The 2024 Legislative Priorities outline a full list of the items the city will be bringing as priorities to the state legislature in the 2024 session.

Francis Benjamin, City Council Member and Mayor Elect, said past years’ agendas and projects were an influence for this year’s agenda.

“Economic development, transportation, and then also livability are the main area that we focused on this year that we felt that for our community we could help the legislature move the furthest on, Benjamin said.

For economic development, the key areas were financial assistance for downtown revitalization, re-purposing old railroad tracks, and continued support for the Pullman Moscow Regional Airport.

Council Member Nathan Weller said if the tracks are taken away there are a lot of opportunities for projects that would benefit the community.

“With railroads no longer running through, we wanna remove those railroad tracks and then create paths or trails so it can be used by everybody,” Weller said.

On the airport, both Weller and Benjamin said it has been a project that has been a city effort for multiple decades, and that besides providing many economic benefits to the city, it also supports students.

“Our students don’t come necessarily all from within driving distance nor are their academic opportunities all within driving distance,” Benjamin said.

With the next category of Transportation Safety Projects, a downtown bypass was the first item. The City Council is requesting $5 million from the state to go towards the project which would ease Main Street traffic and create more transportation options. 

Weller said without the bypass, trucks and large cargo are forced to go downtown which creates a much louder environment. In addition, trucks have broken important infrastructure and run into buildings.

“Every once and a while they will hit a building or run over something vital that we have to repair,” he said.

The other item under that category was passing lanes for Highway 26 which is a notoriously dangerous highway, especially when students are going back and forth from the west side. Just recently on December 2, a woman died on Highway 26 attempting to pass and before that, there was a major crash on June 30 that killed three. 

“There are a lot of accidents along Highway 26, we have had a lot of students, residents and visitors hurt and some have died in accidents there,” Weller said.

The final section of the agenda included four key items, the first of which being housing affordability. Weller and Benjamin both said rent and housing prices are high and legislative support is needed.

Next in that section was mental health care, specifically increasing telehealth and provider certification opportunities. Weller and Benjamin both said these were key priorities with Weller saying it was his number one.

“We have a real lack of mental health providers and we have a huge need,” Weller said.

The third item listed was policing and specifically around the WA Supreme Court ruling in State v. Blake and the legislature’s restrictions on police pursuits. Pullman City Council will advocate for more flexibility in allowing pursuits for officers and stronger penalties for drug possession. Specifically one goal is to get first time offenders into treatment.

The final item and perhaps the one that has the most direct impact on WSU students is their item titled Tuition for Higher Education. In this item, they plan to request more state support for tuition in WA as the state withdrew a lot of funding from universities over a decade ago.

“We’re doing a disservice and we’re setting people up for a poverty type of lifestyle. I don’t think that it’s sustainable the way we are going as far as tuition costs, housing costs, it’s not sustainable for college students these days … It continues to get worse,” Weller said.

Benjamin said the state legislature should be looking at what the long-range vision is for the state and how they invest in that way. That investment starts with good education for students and for students having the opportunity to be able to get that education.

With the city’s legislative agenda, he said students should be invested in the legislative process and that it’s easier than ever before to engage and contact your state representatives and senators.

To find out who represents you in your state government, go to the Washington State legislative home page and use the find my district tool. Emails and phone number can be found using the rosters provided by the legislative website.

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About the Contributor
JUSTIN WASHINGTON, Evergreen research editor
Justin (he/him) is a junior psychology major from Tacoma, Washington.