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Week 1 Legislative Update

Welcome Back

Washington State’s 66th Biennium resumed this week in Olympia. Washington’s legislative cycle is two years long, with the sessions lasting 105 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even. 2020 is therefore a short session expected to end March 12.

New Speaker, New House

History was further made on Monday as Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27) took the helm as Speaker of the House. While several women have been elected to serve as Senate Majority Leader, beginning with Republican Senator Jeanette Hayner (R-16) in 1981, Jinkins is both the first woman ever elected to be the Speaker of the House in Washington and the first open member of the LGBTQ community to serve in the role. It is anticipated a House ruled by Jinkins will be unlike that of her predecessor Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43).  Jinkins, a 55-year-old lawyer who has worked both for the Office of the Attorney General and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is also the mom of a college student and has pledged to make the House more welcoming of members with children and those from low-income backgrounds. Proposals include limiting all-night floor sessions and allowing members to pay for reimbursable items up front, rather than wait for reimbursements. These policy changes in the House closely resemble the Tacoma Democrat’s legislative priorities: housing and homelessness, childcare affordability, and the cost of healthcare.

Resignations and Retirements

While Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43) did step down from his role as Speaker of the House earlier this year, prompting the election of Jinkins in July, he has remained a member of the legislature. Longtime Oak Harbor Senator Barb Bailey (R-10) retired this fall and has been replaced by Whidbey Island farmer Ron Muzzall (R-10).  When Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1) left the legislature for a policy job at Amazon, Rep. Derek Stanford (D-1) assumed his seat across the rotunda, creating an opening for the new Rep. Davina Duerr (D-1), a Bothell City Councilmember.  Longtime Rep. Jeff Morris (D-40) resigned shortly before session, making way for Alex Ramel (D-40), a young clean energy organizer. January also brought the announcement that Rep. Kristine Reeves (D-30) would step down to run for Denny Heck’s open seat in the 10th Congressional District. She has been replaced by Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-30), formerly of the Federal Way City Council. Rep. Beth Doglio (D-22) has also hinted she will consider the seat at the end of this legislative session. Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-36) announced she will run for Secretary of State in 2020, hoping to unseat Republican Kim Wyman. Representative Sheri Appleton (D-23) and Senator Randi Becker (R-2) have announced they will retire this year, as well as Senator Hans Zeiger (R-25) who will run for a position on the Pierce County Council.  And of course, Governor Jay Inslee has returned to Washington after his failed bid to become to Democratic Presidential Nominee with plans to make homelessness and climate change the centerpiece of his session.

One member who notably has not resigned is embattled Rep. Matt Shea (R-4). Shea made international news this year for his manifesto for a Christian Holy war, participation in chats proposing graphic violence against liberal demonstrators, and for his role in an armed 2016 standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge.  After the release of an investigation accusing Shea of domestic terrorism, House Minority Leader Rep. JT Wilcox (R-2) joined Democrats in calling for the Spokane Valley representative’s resignation. Shea, an attorney, has refused to resign, claiming he has been denied due process. The investigation has been turned over to the FBI. Shea is now excluded from his caucus, his desk has been moved to the back of the chamber, and his office to an isolated area in the basement of the legislative building.  The chamber can expel a member from the body, but such action will require a two-thirds constitutional majority.

Transportation Funding

Fallout from the November passage of Initiative 976, the $30 car tab measure looms large. Though 53% of voters approved the measure, nine plaintiffs including the City of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle, the Association of WA Cities, and the Washington State Transit Association filed suit, arguing I-976 violated the single-subject rule and several other constitutional provisions. In late November, the initiative was blocked from taking effect pending conclusion of the case. Democratic lawmakers have announced they will write a transportation budget this session that conforms to the reality of cutting $454 million between 2019-2021. In his proposal, Governor Inslee has suggested pausing road, rail, and transit projects across the state, shifting money between transportation accounts, and selling $120 million in bonds backed by gas-tax revenue. The transportation committees in both chambers will grapple with this question for the rest of session.

Emissions Ruling

The Washington State Supreme Court dealt a blow to Governor Inslee’s climate goals Thursday when it sided with the Association of WA Business, ruling that while the 2015 Legislature had granted the Department of Ecology the authority to regulate direct greenhouse gas emissions, it had not extended that authority to indirect emissions. Indirect emissions include vehicle exhaust and the use of natural gas in homes and business, accounting for half of all greenhouse gas emissions in WA. Inslee has suggested the ruling should “reenergize” proposals for a low carbon fuel standard bill. The Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee did hear a proposed House Substitute 5412 (Saldaña) on Thursday. The companion, HB 1110 (Fitzgibbon) travelled through the process last year but died on third reading in the Senate during the last week of session.

Supreme Court Retirements

Governor Inslee will have a second opportunity to appoint a member of the Washington State Supreme Court in only a few months, with the announcement Thursday that 72-year-old Justice Charles Wiggins will retire at the end of March. The Governor will appoint a new justice who will then run in the November election. The Supreme Court’s newest member, Raquel Montoya-Lewis was sworn in last month to replace former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst who retired to focus on her health.

Public Disclosure

The very process and culture of lobbying in Olympia was turned on its head this week as the Legislature hastily rolled out new policies in response to the recent ruling that all written information is indeed subject to disclosure. In an environment that has since its inception relied on delivering information on notes and whitepapers, legislative offices have this week gone paperless, requiring lobbyists and constituents to email in advance any documents that otherwise might have been brought to an appointment. Gone are the days of leave-behinds, as each of these pieces of paper would have to be scanned into the public record.  This applies both to lobbyists and participants in lobby days. There is no current staffing plan to accommodate the usual volume. Sending notes to members to summon them for a chat from the floor or in committee has likewise been curtailed. Both chambers banned sending notes in this week, with the House later agreeing to accept notes so long as no topics or details of any kind are written down – just the name of the person wishing to pull the member. Legislators are also no longer accepting text messages about Olympia business on personal cell phones, as those too could be requested for disclosure.

Important Dates

Feb 7 – House of Origin Policy Cutoff 
Feb 11 – House of Origin Fiscal Cutoff
Feb 19 – House of Origin Floor Cutoff
Feb 28 – Opposite House Policy Cutoff
March 2 – Opposite House Fiscal Cutoff
March 6 – Opposite House Floor Cutoff
March 12 – Sine Die

Upcoming Events

Housing Stability & Affordability (Senate) – SHR 2, JACB – 1/20 @ 1:30pm

  • SB 6232 – Exec Session – Concerning the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations providing rental housing or mobile home park spaces to qualifying households.
  • SB 6302 – Public Hearing – Prohibiting local governments from limiting the number of unrelated persons occupying a home.
  • SB 6328 – Public Hearing – Creating a local infrastructure investment program to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts.

Labor & Workplace Standards (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 1/20 @ 1:30pm

  • HB 2171 – Public Hearing – Concerning vested vacation or paid time off upon an employee’s termination. (Oppose/High)

Appropriations (House) – HHR A, JLOB – 1/20 @ 3:30pm

  • HB 2460 – Public Hearing – Allowing small counties to retain ninety-eight percent of a surcharge for local homeless housing and assistance.

Finance (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 1/21 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2384 – Public Hearing – Concerning the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations providing rental housing or mobile home park spaces to qualifying households.

Local Government (Senate) – SHR 3, JACB – 1/21 @ 8:00am

  • SB 6453 – Public Hearing – Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act.

Labor & Workplace Standards (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 1/21 @ 3:30pm

  • HB 2409 – Public Hearing – Concerning industrial insurance employer penalties, duties, and the licensing of third-party administrators.

Housing Stability & Affordability (Senate) – SHR 2, JACB – 1/22 @ 1:30pm

  • SB 6386 – Public Hearing – Reducing impact fees for low-income housing.
  • SB 6411 – Public Hearing – Expanding the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban growth areas.
  • SB 6446 – Public Hearing – Concerning lodging taxes for affordable housing.

Human Services & Early Learning (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 1/22 @ 1:30pm

  • HB 2388 – Public Hearing – Standardizing definitions of homelessness to improve access to services.

Transportation (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 1/22 @ 3:30pm

  • HB 2285 – Public Hearing – Elevating road maintenance and preservation in transportation planning.
  • HB 2461 – Public Hearing – Including health in the state transportation system policy goals.
  • HB 2688 – Public Hearing – Expanding transportation policy goals.

Environment & Energy (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 1/23 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2427 – Public Hearing – Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act.

Labor & Commerce (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 1/23 @ 8:00am

  • SB 6053 – Exec Session – Establishing wage liens. (Oppose/Medium)

Labor & Workplace Standards (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 1/23 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2171 – Exec Session – Concerning vested vacation or paid time off upon an employee’s termination. (Oppose/High)

Local Government (Senate) – SHR 3, JACB – 1/23 @ 8:00am

  • SB 6463 – Public Hearing – Eliminating environmental analysis and mitigation requirements on projects within the comprehensive plan.

Human Services & Early Learning (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 1/24 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2388 – Exec Session – Standardizing definitions of homelessness to improve access to services.

Housing, Community Development & Veterans (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 1/24 @ 10:00am

  • HB 1938 – Exec Session – Creating a local infrastructure investment program to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts. (Support/High)

Bill # Abbrev. Title Short Description Status Sponsor Position Priority
2EHB 1056 Domestic violence/workplace Creating a task force to identify the role of the workplace in helping curb domestic violence. H Passed 3rd Mosbrucker Concerns Low
2SHB 1938 Local infra. investment prg Creating a local infrastructure investment program to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts. H Hous, Com Dev & Steele Support High
HB 2171 Vested vacation & time off Concerning vested vacation or paid time off upon an employee’s termination. H Labor & Workpla Santos Oppose High
HB 2194 Transp. budget adjustments Restricting executive discretion in adjusting transportation budgets. H Trans Walsh    
HB 2227 (SB 6031) Vehicle taxes & fees Limiting state and local taxes, fees, and other charges relating to vehicles. H Trans Young    
HB 2271 (SB 6094) Transp. bonds/budget ref. Correcting a reference to an omnibus transportation appropriations act within a prior authorization of general obligation bonds for transportation funding. H Trans Duerr    
HB 2285 Road maintenance/planning Elevating road maintenance and preservation in transportation planning. H Trans McCaslin    
HB 2322 Transp. budget, supplemental Making supplemental transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium. H Trans Fey    
HB 2323 Motor vehicle sales tax Dedicating the state sales tax on motor vehicles for transportation. H Finance MacEwen    
HB 2343 (SB 6334) Urban housing Concerning urban housing supply. H Env & Energy Fitzgibbon    
HB 2362 Local transportation revenue Addressing local transportation revenue options. H Trans Ramos    
HB 2384 (SB 6232) Nonprofit housing/prop. tax Concerning the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations providing rental housing or mobile home park spaces to qualifying households. H Finance Doglio    
HB 2388 (SB 6472) Homelessness definitions Standardizing definitions of homelessness to improve access to services. H H Svcs & Erly Senn    
HB 2409 Industrial insur./employers Concerning industrial insurance employer penalties, duties, and the licensing of third-party administrators. H Labor & Workpla Kilduff    
HB 2427 (SB 6453) Climate change/GMA Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act. H Env & Energy Duerr    
HB 2460 Homeless housing surcharge Allowing small counties to retain ninety-eight percent of a surcharge for local homeless housing and assistance. H Approps Dye    
HB 2461 (SB 6452) Transp. system goals/health Including health in the state transportation system policy goals. H Trans Riccelli    
HB 2489 (SB 6212) Affordable housing/prop. tax Concerning the authority of counties, cities, and towns to exceed statutory property tax limitations for the purpose of financing affordable housing for very low-income households and low-income households. H Finance Ryu    
HB 2490 Urban centers/multiple-units Expanding the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban centers. H Finance Appleton    
HB 2497 Affordable housing financing Adding development of permanently affordable housing to the allowable uses of community revitalization financing, the local infrastructure financing tool, and local revitalization financing. H Finance Ormsby    
HB 2522 (SB 6167) Homelessness BSA approps. Making expenditures from the budget stabilization account to alleviate the issue of homelessness. H Approps Ormsby    
HB 2554 (SB 6400) Health plan exclusions Mitigating inequity in the health insurance market caused by health plans that exclude certain mandated benefits. H HC/Wellness Stonier    
HB 2570 Accessory dwelling units Managing growth by planning and zoning for accessory dwelling units. H Env & Energy Gregerson    
HB 2602 Hair discrimination Concerning hair discrimination. H Civil R & Judi Morgan Neutral Medium
HB 2668 Affordable housing options Providing local governments with options to preserve affordable housing in their communities. H Finance Ryu    
HB 2672 Intensive rural development Concerning limited areas of more intensive rural development. H Env & Energy Barkis    
HB 2673 Infill development Concerning exemptions for infill development under the state environmental policy act. H Env & Energy Barkis    
HB 2687 GMA/affordable housing plans Planning for affordable housing under the growth management act. H Env & Energy Barkis    
HB 2688 (SB 6398) Transportation policy goals Expanding transportation policy goals. H Trans Shewmake    
SB 5412 (E2SHB 1110) Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Environment, E Salda?a Oppose High
SB 5473 (HB 1445) Unempl benefits/family resp Making unemployment benefits accessible to persons with family responsibilities and other availability issues and making clarifying changes. S Labor & Commer Salda?a Oppose Medium
SB 6031 (HB 2227) Vehicle taxes & fees Limiting state and local taxes, fees, and other charges relating to vehicles. S Transportation Fortunato    
SB 6041 Motor vehicle sales tax Dedicating the state sales tax on motor vehicles to transportation improvements. S Ways & Means Braun Support  
SB 6053 Wage liens Establishing wage liens. S Labor & Commer Conway Oppose Medium
SB 6094 (HB 2271) Transp. bonds/budget ref. Correcting a reference to an omnibus transportation appropriations act within a prior authorization of general obligation bonds for transportation funding. S Transportation Nguyen    
SB 6107 Affordable housing services Exempting services essential to affordable housing from the business and occupations surcharge. S Ways & Means O’Ban    
SB 6126 Housing tax/councilmanic Allowing the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by a councilmanic authority. S Local Governme Hunt    
SB 6167 (HB 2522) Homelessness BSA approps. Making expenditures from the budget stabilization account to alleviate the issue of homelessness. S Ways & Means Rolfes    
SB 6194 Multiple business taxes Prohibiting cities and towns from citing the same statutory authority to impose multiple business taxes. S Local Governme Braun    
SB 6196 Homelessness impact grants Creating a homelessness impact grant program to address security and sanitation impacts of homeless populations. S Housing Stabil Braun    
SB 6201 Multiple-unit housing REET Reducing the real estate excise tax rate for multiple-unit housing. S Housing Stabil Braun    
SB 6212 (HB 2489) Affordable housing/prop. tax Concerning the authority of counties, cities, and towns to exceed statutory property tax limitations for the purpose of financing affordable housing for very low-income households and low-income households. S Housing Stabil Das    
SB 6231 (HB 2630) Accessory dwelling units/tax Providing a limited property tax exemption for the construction of accessory dwelling units. S Housing Stabil Kuderer    
SB 6232 (HB 2384) Nonprofit housing/prop. tax Concerning the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations providing rental housing or mobile home park spaces to qualifying households. S Housing Stabil Kuderer    
SB 6233 Personnel files & discipline Concerning employee’s rights concerning personnel files and disciplinary actions. S Labor & Commer Kuderer   High
SB 6234 Unemployment claim disputes Concerning the use of third parties by employers to dispute unemployment claims. S Labor & Commer Kuderer    
SB 6235 Unemployment/job duty change Concerning exceptions to disqualification for unemployment insurance benefits when voluntarily leaving employment due to increases in job duties or changes in working conditions. S Labor & Commer Kuderer Concerns High
SB 6276 Freelance worker wages Concerning the payment of wages to freelance workers. S Labor & Commer Keiser    
SB 6302 Home occupant load limits Prohibiting local governments from limiting the number of unrelated persons occupying a home. S Housing Stabil Rolfes    
SB 6328 Local infra. investment prg Creating a local infrastructure investment program to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts. S Housing Stabil Warnick    
SB 6334 (HB 2343) Urban housing Concerning urban housing supply. S Housing Stabil Salomon    
SB 6350 (HB 2659) Vehicle taxes & fees Limiting state and local taxes, fees, and other charges relating to vehicles. S Transportation Fortunato    
SB 6386 Low-income housing/fees Reducing impact fees for low-income housing. S Housing Stabil Zeiger    
SB 6387 Housing/impact fee timelines Accelerating housing infrastructure investments by adjusting impact fee timelines. S Housing Stabil Zeiger    
SB 6388 Housing/impact fees Concerning impact fees for multifamily and single-family housing. S Housing Stabil Zeiger    
SB 6398 (HB 2688) Transportation policy goals Expanding transportation policy goals. S Transportation Salda?a    
SB 6400 (HB 2554) Health plan exclusions Mitigating inequity in the health insurance market caused by health plans that exclude certain mandated benefits. S Health & Long Randall    
SB 6411 (HB 2620) Multiple-unit dwellings/tax Expanding the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban growth areas. S Housing Stabil Das    
SB 6446 Lodging taxes/housing Concerning lodging taxes for affordable housing. S Housing Stabil Kuderer    
SB 6452 (HB 2461) Transp. system goals/health Including health in the state transportation system policy goals. S Transportation Billig   Medium
SB 6453 (HB 2427) Climate change/GMA Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act. S Local Governme Salda?a    
SB 6463 Comp. plans/environment Eliminating environmental analysis and mitigation requirements on projects within the comprehensive plan. S Local Governme Wilson    
SB 6472 (HB 2388) Homelessness definitions Standardizing definitions of homelessness to improve access to services. S Human Svcs, Re Lovelett    
SB 6474 Sales tax diversification Replacing the streamlined sales tax mitigation program with sales tax diversification awards for certain eligible cities. S Ways & Means Das    
SB 6475 Homelessness/identification Assisting homeless individuals with obtaining identification. S Transportation Hasegawa    
SB 6495 Essential needs & housing Regarding essential needs and housing support eligibility.   Walsh    
SB 6497 (HB 2322) Transp. budget, supplemental Making supplemental transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium.   Hobbs    
SB 6516 Thirty-two hour workweek Reducing the workweek to thirty-two hours unless the employee receives compensation for employment in excess of these hours at a rate not less than one and one-half times their regular rate.   Nguyen    
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