2020 Legislative Report: Week 4
Friday, February 7th marked the first cutoff of session where all bills had to move out of the policy committee in the chamber in which they were originally introduced – called the house of origin – or they are now considered dead. The exception for this is bills that are deemed ‘necessary to implement the budget’ (NTIB). Some advocates and legislators may also try to turn bills that didn’t make it past cutoff into a proviso that would be included in the budget.
The next cutoff date – house of origin fiscal cutoff – is coming up quickly on Tuesday, February 11th. By this date all bills referred to fiscal committees (Appropriations, Finance and Capital Budget Committees in the House and Ways & Means in the Senate, and also both Transportation Committees) must pass out of that committee or it will be considered dead. Because of the short turnaround between these two cutoffs, the House Appropriations convened for a marathon of hearings and executive session all day and into the evening on Saturday February 8th. Senate Ways & Means did not meet over the weekend but will convene for their long marathon days on Monday and Tuesday.
It is important to note that not all bills get referred to a fiscal committee. In general, the threshold is whether a bill has a fiscal note that has a state general fund impact of over $50,000. There are, of course, exceptions. If a bill skips fiscal committee, it goes straight to the Rules committee where it will sit until pulled to the floor for debate and vote.
Once we get past Tuesday’s fiscal cutoff, the focus quickly shifts to floor action. Starting Wednesday, both chambers will convene for floor sessions where they will debate, potentially amend, and vote on bills that are pulled from rules. This will continue until house of origin floor cutoff on February 19th. There may be some committees that meet during this time, but not nearly as many as recent weeks.
The number of bills being introduced each day has slowed quite a bit, but there are still new ones being introduced every day. Since the start of session on January 13th, over 2,000 new bills have been introduced in the Washington State Legislature, making for a grand total of 4,241 bills so far this biennium.
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.
Null & Void and Subject to Appropriations
During executive sessions in both the House Appropriations and Senate Ways & Means Committees this week, a lot of bills were amended to include a ‘Null and Void’ or ‘Subject to Appropriation’ clause. These two terms mean the same thing, it is just different vernacular...the House uses the term ‘null and void’ while the Senate uses ‘subject to appropriation’. When a bill has this language added it means the measure is invalid unless funding is provided in the budget by a specified date. The intention behind these clauses is to prevent a bill from being enacted that doesn’t end up getting the money needed to implement it. Both Democrats and Republicans will propose null and void clauses. It is standard practice in the fiscal committees for these to be added to most bills and they are often done by a verbal amendment.
Bills generally have fiscal notes attached when the subject matter of the bill requires funding. A fiscal note is an estimation of the expected fiscal impact a bill will have on state and/or local government within a specified timeframe. If a bill has a fiscal note, it is linked under the ‘Fiscal Note’ section of the bill page. You can also go straight to the OFM fiscal note page to search for fiscal notes by bill number or bill title. Since legislation often changes as it continues through the process, fiscal notes can change as well. They also serve as an important tool in writing the state budget. Fiscal note requests are sent to OFM where they are directed to state agencies that would be impacted by the bill to determine the fiscal impact.
When you read a fiscal note, the narrative explanation section is usually very informative. But the details also really matter. Make sure to look at the source/account of where the fiscal note says funding would come from. Funding from General Fund-State has a direct impact on the state budget. But the funding source also might be federal funding, an agency’s existing admin account, or some other specific source. The fiscal notes also project out for the current biennium as well as the next two biennia.
Affordable Housing/Homelessness Affordable and supportive housing
Rep. Robinson and Sen. Saldaña sponsored HB 2797/SB 6631, which amends the local sales tax for affordable or supportive housing by extending the deadline to adopt a resolution of intent to adopt legislation to authorize the tax to July 28, 2020. The deadline to adopt legislation to authorize the tax is extending to December 1, 2020. SB 6631 was amended and passed by the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 5th and referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee. HB 2797 was heard on February 7th in the House Finance committee and is scheduled for executive session on February 10th.
County fees on the real estate excise tax
Rep. Chopp sponsored HB 2919, which increased the percentage of real estate excise taxes (REET) retained by counites with a population of less than 230,000 to 1.48 percent and directs a portion of the REET retained by King County to go to the maintenance and operations of permanent supportive housing programs. The bill was amended and passed by the House Finance committee on February 7th. The amended bill states that 25 percent of the REET proceeds retained by King County must go to the maintenance and operations of permanent supportive housing program in the county.
Excise tax on businesses
Rep. Macri and Sen. Keiser introduced HB 2907/SB 6669, which allows the King County council to impose an annual payroll tax on businesses with employees who earn at least $150,000 a year and the money raised would be spent on affordable housing, public safety, homeless services and behavioral health services. HB 2907 was amended and passed by the House Finance committee on February 7th. The amended bill requires representation from cities and elected state officials from each subregion of the county be included on the advisory and accountability commission. SB 6669 has been referred to Senate Ways & Means but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Homeless shelter capacity
Rep. Ryu sponsored HB 2649 at the request of Governor Inslee, to help meet shelter capacity needs in cities and counties. The bill that was heard by the House Housing, Community Development & Veterans committee on January 28th was a proposed substitute and it removed all the provisions of the underlying bill. It requires counties with a population greater than 40,000 and cities with a population of at least 15,000 located within those counties to review current zoning and development regulations; report to the Department of Commerce by December 1, 2021, with a list of all parcels within the jurisdictions that are zoned, suitable, and potentially feasible for development of additional shelters, sanctioned camping capacity, affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, and behavioral health facilities; and identify each parcel the number of expected units or capacity for services, the type of facility that could be developed, and any populations that could not be served. The proposed substitute was adopted and passed out the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans committee on February 7th.
Sen. Zeiger introduced SB 6364, which authorizes local government to implement a tiered fee structure in their impact fee schedules for single-family homes based on square footage of the housing unit. The bill passed out of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 6th and has been referred to the Senate Rules committee for further consideration.
Sen. Zeiger sponsored SB 6386, which authorizes local governments to provide up to a full waiver from impact fees for qualifying low-income housing projects without any requirement to pay the exempted fees from other public funds. The bill passed out of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 3rd and has been referred to the Senate Rules committee for further consideration.
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 amended and passed by the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 5th. It is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Ways & Means on February 10th and executive session on February 11th. HB 2620 had a hearing in House Finance on February 7th and is scheduled for executive session on February 10th.
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 referred to the Rules committee for further consideration.
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 was amended and passed by the House Environment and Energy committee on February 5th.The amended bill eliminates the requirement that covered counties and cities choose 3 of 5 specified accessory dwelling unit (ADU) policy outcomes, and instead adds those 5 policy outcomes to the menu of ADU options that covered cities and counties are encouraged to adopt. It allows covered cities and counties to adopt ADU policies that include owner occupancy restrictions that apply to owner that won more than 5 ADUs within a county and to ADUS used as short-term rentals. The bill has been referred to House Appropriations for further consideration.
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 was amended and passed out of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on January 27th. The amended bill limits the property tax exemption for improvements to single-family dwellings to only include the construction of accessory dwelling units. It has been referred to Ways & Means for further consideration. HB 2630 has been referred to House Finance but not yet scheduled for a hearing.
Sen. Liias introduced SB 6617, which requires counties planning under the Growth Management Act and cities within such counties to authorize up to two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) per lot, to not require the provision of off-street parking for ADUs close to major transit stops, and to not require an owner to occupy an ADU or other housing unit on the lot unless the owner owns more than five ADUs. The bill is modeled after Burien’s ADU ordinance. The bill was amended and passed by the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 5th and referred to the Senate Rules committee for further consideration. The amended bill expands the owner-occupancy requirements for ADUs to include when the ADU is a short-term rental.
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 was heard on January 28th in the House Environment and Energy committee. Neither bill moved out it’s respective committees before cut-off so they are considered dead.
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 but was not passed out of committee so is considered dead. HB 2427 was amended and passed by the House Environment and Energy committee on February 4th. The amended bill removes references to vehicle miles traveled and by requiring jurisdictions to develop and implement plans, polices, and strategies that help achieve emission reductions limits, rather than by requiring jurisdictions to ensure that plans, policies, and strategies adopt to and mitigate the effects of a changing climate. Additionally, it limits the applicability of the climate change goal to counties required to develop a GMA review and evaluation program or to counties with a population of at least 300,000 and to the cities within those counites. The bill has been referred to House Rules for further consideration.
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 amended and passed by the House Environment and Energy committee on February 4th. The amended bill provides small and slow growing cities and counties an extension of 24 months to complete the required 5-year review and possible revision of their comprehensive plans. The bill has been referred to House Rules for further consideration.
Net ecological gain
Rep. Lekanoff introduced HB 2550, which directs the Office of Financial Management to submit a report to the Legislature by December 1, 2020, that assesses how to incorporate a standard of net ecological gain, and an associated mitigation hierarchy, into the Growth Management Act (GMA), Shoreline Management Act (SMA), Construction Projects in State Waters/Hydraulic Projects Approvals (HPAs), and Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) wherever the existing standard is those laws is less protective of ecological integrity than the standard of net ecological gain. The bill was amended and passed by the House Environment and Energy committee on February 4th and was heard in the House Appropriations committee on February 8th. The amended bill amends the definition of net ecological gain and eliminates the defined mitigation hierarchy to be used in net ecological gain. It also eliminates provisions that: (1) addressed aquatic resources compensatory mitigation; (2) declared net ecological gain to be the policy of the state; and, (3) required state agencies to adopt net ecological gain where state law provided discretion for them to do so.
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 amended and passed out the House Environment and Energy committee on January 28th. The amended bill changes 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 Growth Management Act (GMA) and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) from April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2023; and changes the frequency of transit service that triggers a cap on minimum residential parking requirements for certain affordable housing units, from four times per hour to two times per hour. It has been referred to House Rules for further consideration. SB 6334 was amended and passed by the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on February 5th. It has been referred to Senate Rules for further consideration. Both bills now mirror each other.
Climate Change and the Environment
Greenhouse gas emission
Rep. Fitzgibbons 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. On January 29th the House took up HB 1110 and after a 4-hour debate passed it with a 52-44 vote count. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environment, Energy, and Technology committee for further consideration. SB 5412 was heard on January 16th in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology committee but did not move forward before the policy cut-off so is considered dead.
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 but did not move forward before the policy cut-off so is considered dead. HB 2311 modifies 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 bill was heard in House Appropriations on February 3rd and was amended and passed out of the committee on February 8th. The amended bill adds a reference to "natural and working lands" to intent language regarding increasing carbon sequestration; amends a policy of the state to prioritize "carbon sequestration" rather than "sequestration activities"; And requires all state agencies to seek practicable opportunities to maximize "carbon storage" in addition to "carbon sequestration."
Automated traffic safety cameras
Sen. Liias and Rep. Fitzgibbon sponsored SB 5789/HB 1793, which establishes a pilot program through the end of 2021 for the use of automated traffic safety cameras on certain state and local roadways in or near downtown Seattle and requires the Seattle City Council to enact an ordinance authorizing their use. 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. On January 30th the House passed the bill with a 56-40 vote count. It has been referred to the Senate Transportation committee for further consideration. SB 5789 was heard on January 28th and is scheduled for executive session on February 10th 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 amended and passed by the Senate Transportation committee on February 3rd and has been referred to Senate Rules for further consideration. The amended bill replaces the term “bicyclists” with the phase “person operating a bicycle” and requires a person operating a bicycle stop for a stop signal displayed by a school bus when the rules of the road require a stop. HB 2358 was amended and passed out of the House Transportation committee on January 29th. The amended bill requires every bicyclist approaching a stop sign used by a school bus that has stopped on a roadway must follow the requirement that all vehicles must stop before reaching the school bus and may not proceed until the school bus stop sign is no longer activated. HB 2358 has been placed on 2nd reading by the House Rules 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 had a hearing in House Transportation on January 22nd but has not yet been scheduled for executive session. SB 6452 was referred to Senate Transportation but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
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.
The Senate Republicans have introduced three bills aimed at reinstating $30 car tabs. SB 6031 was scheduled for a hearing, but it was not heard. SB 6245 and SB 6350 were heard on February 4th in the Senate Transportation committee.
Sen. Liias introduced SB 6606, which changes the motor vehicle valuation schedule Sound Transit has been using under ST3 to a valuation schedule based on purchase price and repeals I-976. The bill was heard on February 4th and is scheduled for executive session on February 10th in the Senate Transportation committee.
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 but has not yet been scheduled for executive session. SB 6398 had a public hearing on January 28th in the Senate Transportation committee but has not yet been scheduled for executive session.
Rep. Fey sponsored HB 2913, which increases the gas tax by 9.7 cents over ten years to fund the replacement of state culverts as mandated by the fish passage Supreme Court case. The bill has been referred to House Transportation but has not been scheduled for a hearing at this time.
Sen. Hobbs unveiled a new version of the “Forward Washington” transportation revenue proposal and held a work session on February 5th. The work session was based on a spread sheet showing revenue and spending rather than on bills. Links to a summary, spending, and revenue are below. Conversations on this proposal will continue during the interim.
This week will full days of hearings and executive sessions in fiscal committees leading up to Tuesday’s House of Origin Fiscal cutoff. After that, focus will shift to floor action.
• February 7th - House of Origin Policy Cutoff
• February 11th - House of Origin Fiscal Cutoff
• February 19th - House of Origin Floor Cutoff
• February 28th - Opposite House Policy Cutoff
• March 2nd - Opposite House Fiscal Cutoff
• March 6th - Opposite House Floor Cutoff
• March 12th - Sine Die