2020 Legislative Report: Week 2
Last week was another busy week filled with committee hearings on bills and some floor action in both chambers. A lot of advocates and constituents took the opportunity of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday to come to Olympia and visit their legislators.
Almost 1,500 bills have been introduced so far this session. This is in addition to all of the bills that failed to pass last year during the first year of the biennium. Bills need to pass out of their house of origin policy committee by February 7th or they will be considered dead, unless they are deemed Necessary to Implement the Budget. This means there is a great sense of urgency to get bills heard and voted out of committee quickly. A majority of bills will not make it past the first cutoff.
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. We often use jargon and things move very quickly, so our goal with these primers is to help you better understand what is going on in Olympia as we go along. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Executive session is when members of a committee decide whether they think a bill should move out of committee and continue on through the legislative process. During executive session amendments and substitute bills can be introduced and voted on by the committee. While executive sessions are open to public viewing and aired on TVW just like bill hearings, only committee members and staff are permitted to speak. The simple way of describing executive session is that the members of a committee vote and if a bill gets a simple majority in favor, it passes out of committee and is referred to the next appropriate step in the process.
In the Senate, members vote orally, but their vote is subject to signature. This means committee members are free to sign or remove their signature from a committee vote until the bill has passed out of committee and has been acted on by the floor, or until the cut-off date, whichever happens first. It is the signature (not the oral vote) that serves as the official voting record reported on bill reports. One-sixth of the committee may demand an oral roll call.
Voting in committee hearings is handled slightly different in the House. In the House every committee vote on bills is taken by oral yeas and nays, and (unlike in the Senate) this oral vote is recorded. A majority recommendation must also be signed in the committee meeting room, where members are not required to sign the way they voted orally. Again, the official voting record is the committee report with signatures, which can change from what was recorded during the oral vote.
You can see the official record of committee vote on the bill page. Under the line that says, “Executive action taken in XX committee”, you will see up to three lines: ‘Majority; do pass’, ‘Minority; do not pass’, and ‘Minority; without recommendation’. There will be a hyperlink next to each of these lines that you can click on to see which members voted within each of these recommendations.
On Tuesday, the Senate Republicans introduced a package of bills aimed at reducing the number of homeless individuals on the streets, utilizing a number of tools to expand resources, compel homeless individuals to seek treatment for mental health disorders and substance abuse, and require proper enforcement of laws on the books when a homeless individual commits a crime.
- SB 6109, allows local governments to appoint a guardian like a family member, social worker, or another person to exercise power of attorney on behalf of a homeless individual struggling with mental health or substance abuse. SB 6109 is scheduled for public hearing Jan. 31 before the Senate committee on Behavioral Health subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care;
- SB 6196, creates a homeless impact grant program that would provide money to county and city chambers of commerce locates in areas with a homeless population of greater than 500 people;
- SB 6201, reduces the real estate excise tax for multi-unit housing;
- SB 6364, incentivizes housing developers to construct more single-family affordable housing by instituting a tiered fee structure based on square footage per bedroom of each home. SB 6364 is scheduled for public hearing Jan. 27 before the Senate Committee on Housing Stability & Affordability;
- SB 6386, reduces impact fees for low-income housing. SB 6386 was heard Jan. 22nd before the Senate Committee on Housing Stability & Affordability;
- SB 6387, allows a property developer to have their impact fees returned if the city or county does not spend those dollars within 6 years instead of the current 10 years. SB 6387 is scheduled for public hearing Jan. 27th before the Senate committee on Housing Stability & Affordability;
- SB 6388, caps the impact fees paid for multi-family housing to the amount paid for single-family homes. SB 6388 is scheduled for public hearing Jan. 27th before the Senate committee on Housing Stability & Affordability;
- SB 6185, expands opportunities for potential homeowners to acquire down payment assistance. SB 6185 was heard Jan. 15 before the Senate committee on Housing Stability & Affordability; and
- SB 6502, removes local prosecutors’ authority to prosecute someone acquitted of a “homeless crime” if that person is released once.
Homeless shelter capacity
Rep. Ryu sponsored HB 2649 at the request of Governor Inslee, which directs cities over 15,000 and counties to revise the 5-yer plans to address homelessness to increase sanctioned encampment or homeless shelter capacity by the equivalent of 50% of the capacity needed to shelter the population living outdoors identified by the point in time county or other processes. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on January 28th and executive session on January 31st in the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans committee.
Rep. Macri and Sen. Kuderer introduced HB 2453/SB 6379, which seeks to improve landlord-tenant
relationships by requiring landlords to cite a reason to move someone out of a home. HB 2453 was heard on January 24th and is scheduled for executive session on January 31st in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary committee. and SB 6379 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Councilmember Marx testified on the bill 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 was heard 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 an outdated 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, passed out of the Senate Local Government committee on January 23rd, and has been passed to House Rules committee for second reading.
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 and is scheduled for executive session on January 27th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and HB 2724 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing at this time.
Unrelated persons occupying a home
Sen. Rolfes introduced SB 6302, which prohibits local governments from limiting the number of unrelated persons occupying a home. The bill was heard on January 20th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and is scheduled for executive session on January 29th.
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 is scheduled for a public hearing on January 28th in the House Environment and Energy committee.
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 and is scheduled for executive session on January 27th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and HB 2630 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Climate change in the growth management act
Sen. Salomon and Rep. Duerr introduced SB 6335/HB 2609, which adds a climate change goal and climate change and natural hazards resiliency element to the planning requirements of the Growth Management Act for certain counties and cities within those counties. It also requires the Department of Commerce to establish a share of greenhouse gas emissions reductions for these jurisdictions as part of the planning.
Additionally, it extends deadlines to 2025 for comprehensive plan reviews by counties and cities within those counties that were due in 2023 and 2024. SB 6335 was heard on January 21st in the Senate Local Government committee and HB 2609 is scheduled for a public hearing on January 28th in the House Environment and Energy committee.
Sen. Salomon and Rep. Duerr also introduced SB 6453/HB 2427, which adds climate change to the planning goals that guide the development and adoption of city and county comprehensive plans and development regulation under the Growth Management Act. SB 6453 was heard on January 21st in the Senate Local Government committee and HB 2427 was heard on January 23rd in the House Environment and Energy committee.
Comprehensive plan updates
Rep. Fitzgibbon sponsored HB 2342, which changes the frequency of comprehensive plan updates under the Growth Management Act from every 8 years to every 10 years. It also requires counties and cities to update certain portions of their comprehensive plans at the 5 year mark between full updates of their comprehensive plans. The bill was heard on January 23rd in the House Environment and Energy committee.
Urban housing supply
Rep. Fitzgibbon and Sen. Salomon sponsored HB 2343/SB 6334 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. HB 2343 was heard on January 16th and is scheduled for executive session on January 28th in the House Environment and Energy committee. SB 6334 is scheduled for a public hearing on January 27th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee.
Climate Change and the Environment
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.
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 was heard on January 21st in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee and HB 2311 was heard on January 14th and moved out of the House Environment and Energy committee on January 23rd. The bill was amended to modify the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for both the state as a whole and for state government, to refer to actual tonnages of greenhouse gas emissions reductions in addition to percentage reductions.
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. We do not know when we will see a proposal but will make sure to keep you updated once a proposal is made public.
Automated traffic safety cameras
Sen. Liias and Rep. Fitzgibbon sponsored SB 5789/HB 1793, which allows for red light cameras to be used to detect one or more of the following violations: stopping when traffic obstructed; stopping at intersection or crosswalk; public transportation only lane; stopping, standing, or parking at locations restricted for emergency response vehicle entry or exit of the boarding or disembarking or public transportation vehicles. During the 2019 session, HB 1793 did pass out of the House but ran up against session timelines and did not move out of the Senate. SB 5789 was been scheduled for a public hearing on January 28th in the Senate Transportation committee.
Sen. Billig and Rep. Fitzgibbon introduced SB 6208/HB 2358, allows bicyclists the right to treat a stop sign as a yield. The “safety stop” is described as a rolling stop and increases safety at intersections by allowing a person bicycling to avoid waiting in the blind spot of a motor vehicle and to get out ahead of following motor vehicles, creating space and less likelihood for interaction between the motor vehicle and bicyclists. SB 6208 was heard on January 21st in the Senate Transportation committee and HB 2358 was heard on January 22nd in the House Transportation committee.
Health as a transportation policy goal
Rep. Riccelli and Sen. Billig sponsored HB 2461/SB 6452, which adds health to the list of transportation policy goals the Department of Transportation must consider for the planning, operation, performance of, and investment in, the state’s transportation system. HB 2461 was heard on January 22nd in the House Transportation committee and SB 6452 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
Sen. Liias introduced SB 6606, which changes the motor vehicle valuation schedule Sound Transit has been using under ST 3 to a valuation schedule based on purchase price and repeals I-976. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing at this time.
Transportation policy goals
Rep. Shewmake and Sen. Saldaña introduced HB 2688/SB 6398, which requires any state transportation funding project lists to undergo an evaluation and meet certain metrics. HB 2688 was heard on January 22nd in the House Transportation committee and SB 6398 is scheduled for a public hearing on January 28th in the Senate Transportation committee.