Legislative Report: Week 3
The first cut-off of session is quickly approaching on Friday, February 7th, which means all bills must pass out of their house of origin policy committees or they will be considered dead unless it is deemed ‘Necessary to Implement the Budget’ (NTIB). Policy committees are things like health care, education, and environment where the focus is on the substance of a bill rather than the fiscal impact. Because this week is leading up to policy cutoff, committee agendas will be filled with mostly executive sessions (where a bill is voted on by the committee).
The next cutoff date is just a few days later on Tuesday, February 11th. By this date all bills referred to fiscal committees must pass out of their house of origin fiscal committee (Appropriations, Finance and Capital Budget Committees in the House and Ways & Means in the Senate, and also both Transportation Committees). Because of the short turnaround between these two cutoffs, some of the fiscal committees will convene on Saturday February 8th.
On Wednesday the Senate convened for floor action to consider SB 6492, Addressing workforce education investment funding through business and occupation tax reform. The proposal is a fix to the bill that passed last session to fund higher education (HB 2158). Among other things, the version that passed the Senate on Thursday would impose a new 1.75% B&O tax rate on service activities on firms with $1 million or more in annual gross sales. This new tax replaces a component of the bill passed last year. During Wednesday’s floor debate, nearly 30 floor amendments were proposed, most from Republican Senators. All but two amendments proposed by a Democrat failed to be adopted. Debate ran very long resulting in cancelled and shortened Senate hearings during the afternoon hearing block, and they ultimately had to reconvene the next day to conclude debate and vote. The debate ultimately lasted almost four hours.
The number of bills being introduced each day has slowed quite a bit, but there are still new ones being introduced every day. At this point almost 1,800 bills have been introduced this session. This is in addition to the bills from last session that are still in play this year.
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.
The Senate Republicans released a package of homelessness and housing bills and we will continue to monitor as they are considered by the legislature.
- 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 was heard on January 31st in the Senate Behavioral Health subcommittee;
- 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 was heard on January 27th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and is scheduled for executive session on February 5th; and
- SB 6386, reduces impact fees for low-income housing. SB 6386 was heard on January 22nd and is scheduled for executive session on February 3rd in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee.
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 is scheduled for a public hearing on February 4th and executive session on February 7th in the House Finance committee. SB 6669 has not yet been referred to a committee.
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 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 zones, 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 bill was scheduled for executive session on January 31st in the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans committee, but it was not considered. It has not yet been rescheduled for executive session.
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 is scheduled for executive session on February 5th and 7th in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary committee. SB 6379 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
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 and is scheduled for executive session on February 5th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee. HB 2620 has been scheduled for a public hearing February 7th in the House Finance committee.
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 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, amended, and passed out of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee on January 27th. The amended bill modifies the uniform 14-day pay or vacate notice and unlawful detainer action summons, requires the tenant to provide a copy of the pledge of emergency rental assistance to stay the judgement and for the landlord to provide documentation necessary to process such assistance, and removes the prohibition on eligibility for judicial discretion if a tenant is issued three of more 14-day notices within the previous 12-month period. It has been passed to the Rules Committee for second reading. HB 2724 has not been scheduled for a hearing at this time.
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 heard on January 28th in and is scheduled for executive session on February 4th 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 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 not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
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. It was heard on January 29th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee and is scheduled for executive session on February 5th.
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 has been scheduled for executive session at this time.
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 has not been scheduled for executive session at this time. HB 2427 was heard on January 23rd and is scheduled for executive session on February 4th 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 and is scheduled for executive session on February 4th in the House Environment and Energy committee.
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 heard on January 28th and is scheduled for executive session on February 4th 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 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 heard on January 27th in the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability committee but has not been scheduled for executive session at this time.
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. 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 has not yet been scheduled for executive session.
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 has not yet been scheduled for executive session. SHB 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 has already passed out of its policy committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 3rd in the House Appropriations committee.
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 will now go to the Senate for consideration. SB 5789 was heard on January 28th in the Senate Transportation committee but has not yet been scheduled for executive session.
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 is scheduled for executive session on February 3rd. 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.
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 but has not yet been scheduled for executive session. SB 6452 has not been scheduled for a public hearing at this time.
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, SB 6245, and SB 6350 are scheduled for a hearing 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 has been scheduled for hearing on February 4th 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. SB 6398 had a public hearing on January 28th in the Senate Transportation committee. Neither bill is scheduled for executive session at this time.
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 has unveiled new version of the “Forward Washington” transportation revenue proposal and will hold a work session on February 5th. The work session will be based on a spread sheet showing revenue and spending rather than on bills. Links to a summary, spending, and revenue are below.
- 2020 New law transportation funding proposal summary
- 2020 New law transportation balance sheet
- 2020 New law transportation revenue
This week will see a few remaining public hearings in policy committees and a lot of movement of bills out of committee as we approach Friday’s cutoff.
- 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