2020 Legislative Report: Week 1
The 2020 session began on Monday, January 13th. This is a short session, so it is only scheduled to go for 60 days, ending on March 12th. As a reminder, Washington runs on a two-year (biennial) cycle. In the short session years, the legislature is scheduled to run shorter because that is the year that they just do tweaks to the big two-year budget that was passed by the legislature last session. This session, legislators will be tackling affordable housing and homelessness, childcare accessibility, climate action, and addressing the impacts of I-976. The general expectation is that legislators will hold firm to the 60-day timeframe.
The House and Senate held their opening ceremonies on Monday. At the House opening ceremony, Representative Laurie Jinkins was elected as the first female and first openly lesbian Speaker of the House in Washington. At the swearing-in ceremony, Speaker Jinkins stated “Another barrier is broken today, but it won’t be the last.” In honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, a number of legislators wore white to the ceremony.
On Tuesday, Governor Inslee delivered his State of the State Address and stressed that “Washington state indeed embodies the best of America.” During his speech he stressed the importance of providing meaningful career training for anyone who wants it; moving people into safe housing; and, establishing a clean fuel standard.
Republicans, who are in the minority party in both legislative houses, also have their respective priorities for this legislative session. The Senate and House Republican Leadership held media availability to respond
Click here to watch this week’s TVW Week in Review, which provides a good wrap-up of the past week in Olympia.
As we go through session, I will periodically do brief primers on things related to session and the legislative process. I often use jargon and things move very quickly, so my goal with these primers is to help you better understand what is going on in Olympia. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
We are fortunate to have a really great resource in Washington with TVW. This a website and an app where you can watch most things related to session including committee hearings and floor sessions. If you know when a bill is scheduled, you can watch that hearing live by going to the ‘Schedule’ and finding the hearing you are looking for. If you missed being able to watch something live, or if you want to go back and watch it again, you can go to the ‘Archives’ and search for the hearing or floor action you want to watch. TVW also does shows that highlight some of the activity in Olympia each week. Legislative Review airs daily during session and also has a weekly wrap-up on Fridays (we always include the link to the weekly wrap-up in the report). Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins provides weekly in-depth interviews with legislators and other
state leaders. And The Impact provides weekly episodes that highlight big issues being discussed in Olympia. We try to highlight some of the interesting and relevant pieces from these shows when applicable, but you can always go and find them online to watch each week.
New this year for TVW!!** TVW's video will be embedded on the legislative website, leg.wa.gov. Select the "Agendas, Schedules and Calendars" link, and navigate to the Committee Schedules, Agendas, and Documents page. TVW's video icon is right there with every legislative hearing, just click and watch. It's never been this easy to follow your State Legislature on TVW.
Rep. Macri and Sen. Kuderer introduced HB 2453/SB 6379, seeks to improve landlord-tenant relationships by requiring landlords to cite a reason to move someone out of a home. HB 2453 is scheduled for a hearing on January 24th in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary committee and SB 6379 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time. Councilmember Marx will be in Olympia to testify on January 24th.
Multi-family tax exemption
Rep. Walen and Sen. Kuderer introduced HB 2620/SB 6411, which allows cities and counties to designate a residential targeted area and provide property tax exemptions for eligible multi-unit residential housing projects in urban centers. It also allows cities to authorize an additional 12 year extension to housing projects currently receiving a property tax exemption. SB 6411 has been scheduled for a public hearing on January 22nd in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and HB 2620 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Sales tax for affordable housing
Sen. Hunt introduced SB 6126, which allows the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by councilmanic authority rather than by a majority of voters. The bill also removes a provision that required cities in King County to wait until October of 2015 before submitting a local sales and use tax for affordable housing to city voters. The bill was heard on January 14th in the Senate Local Government committee.
Sen. Kuderer and Rep. Macri introduced SB 6378/HB 2724, which modifies the uniform 14-day pay or vacate notice; authorizes the stay of an unlawful detainer judgement if the tenant will be able to pay the judgement with emergency rental assistance funds; requires the tenant to provide a copy of the pledge of emergency rental assistance to stay the judgement and for the landlord documentation necessary to process such assistance; removes the prohibition on eligibility for judicial discretion if a tenant is issued three or more 14-day notices within the previous 12-month period; prohibits landlords from insinuating or threatening eviction for the tenant’s failure to pay nonpossessory fees; and, requires landlords to alter the rent due date when requested by the tenant in writing and the tenant primary source of income is regular, monthly governmental assistance received after rent is due. SB 6378 was heard on January 17th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and HB 2724 is scheduled for a hearing on January 24th in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary committee.
Accessory dwelling units
Rep. Gregerson introduced HB 2570, which creates a statewide mandate to remove certain regulatory barriers to facilitate the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADU). The bill creates a statewide standard for accessory dwelling units by requiring one ADU on all lots zoned for single family homes, removes the provision requiring off-street parking, and removes owner occupancy requirements. It also pre-empts local governments from adopting any different standards. The bill has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Sen. Kuderer and Rep. Walen sponsored SB 6231/HB 2630, which provides a 3-year property tax exemption for the construction of an attached or detached accessory dwelling unit. SB 6231 was heard on January 15th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and HB 2630 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Urban housing supply
Rep. Fitzgibbon sponsored HB 2343 makes changes to last year’s HB 1923 which required certain cities to take certain actions to increase residential building capacity and housing affordability. The bill modifies the list of planning actions certain cities are encouraged to take in order to increase residential building capacity, extends the date by which certain planning actions must be taken in order for those actions to be exempt from administrative or judicial appeal under the GMA and SEPA, and directs the Department of Ecology to initiate a rule-making process to remove parking as an element of the environment and as a component of the environmental checklist. The bill was heard on January 16th in the House Environment and Energy committee.
Climate Change and the Environment
Inslee’s administration which capped greenhouse gas emission by fuel distributors, natural-gas companies and other industries. In a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld a 2017 lower court decision that the state Department of Ecology had exceeded its legal authority in trying to apply clean-air standards to “indirect emitters” that do not directly burn fossil fuels. The court did uphold the portion of Ecology’s carbon cap that applies to fuel burned on-site at refineries and other facilities. Governor Inslee issued a statement saying he disagreed with the courts majority and had not decided whether to ask lawmakers to amend the Clean Air Act to include indirect emitters.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Rep. Fitzgibbon and Sen. Saldaña introduced HB 1110/SB 5412 during the 2019 legislative session and it directs Department of Ecology (DOE) to adopt a rule establishing a clean fuels program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. During the 2019 legislative session, HB 1110 passed the House but was not able to move out of the Senate Transportation committee before the end of the session. SB 5412 was heard on January 16th in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee and Councilmember Tosta testified in support.
Sen. Das and Rep. Slatter sponsored SB 6272/HB 2311 on behalf of Governor Inslee and it revises the 2050 state greenhouse gas emissions reduction limits from 50 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels and requires the state to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emission. Additionally, it amends greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for state agencies and requires all agencies to seek all practicable opportunities to cost-effectively maximize carbon sequestration. SB 6272 is scheduled for a public hearing on January 21st in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee and HB 2311 was heard on January 14th and is scheduled for executive session on January 21st in the House Environment and Energy committee. Councilmember Tosta testified in support of SB 6272.
The House and Senate transportation budget writers are routinely meeting to discuss how to deal with I- 976 impacts. The initiative is projected to reduce state transportation funding by about $454 million in the current biennium and by more than $1.9 billion over six years. In addition, total revenue losses for local governments and Sound Transit are projected at more than $2.3 billion over six years.
In immediate response to the initiative, Gov. Inslee directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to pause certain projects that are planned but not yet underway. To offset the revenue losses, his supplemental transportation budget directs the department to continue project deferrals for seven months (from Dec. 1, 2019). Deferred projects are in WSDOT’s highways, public transportation, rail and local programs.
The is no appetite to backfill the funding deficit with local options or additional state funding and we anticipate conversations on how to address the I-976 impacts will last all session.