Legislative Update - 02-12-2018



 Doug Levy – 2/12/18

State lawmakers moved key bills dealing with housing, homelessness, and “wrongful death” off one Floor or another during Week 5, and marched closer to a major cutoff deadline that will significantly shape the list of bills going forward. 

That said, the bigger “bills” may be the property tax assessments arriving in the mail this coming week for homeowners and business owners throughout the state.  Those bills will trigger a “sticker shock” reaction that may have bigger repercussions for legislators than the pieces of legislation currently on their radar.

With regard to the slew of key bills, they are part of a concerted 2018 strategy by the narrow-Democratic-majority House and Senate to show citizens that the state is in a new governing mode and working to pass important bills that have been stuck the past few years in a divided Legislature.

As for the property tax assessments, those come on the heels of the new $7.3 billion funding package for K-12 education approved by the 2017 Legislature.   While some smaller and rural areas of the state are bound to see lower property tax bills from the 2017 deal, there will be numerous high-population and urban areas where taxpayers will see a sharp spike upward in their assessments.  Many Olympia-watchers believe the fallout could profoundly impact tax and revenue legislation going forward -- one reason the House Finance Committee chose to hold a capital gains tax bill hearing this Thursday, after the new bills arrive in the mail.

Week 5 was a busy one for WRPA, especially with respect to our efforts on securing Supplemental Capital Budget funding for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA). See more details below.

Following is my usual overview of where we are on WRPA top priorities and “support” or “oppose” measures, followed by a listing of some other bills of interest. A (short) Week 6 list of hearings and possible “Executive Session” action is at the bottom of this report, on Page 5.


Top Priorities

Enact 2017-19 Capital Budget – Including Key Funding Targets for WWRP, YAF, ALEA

(Capital Budget) As previously reported, both a 2017-19 Capital Budget and the bonds to finance most of it (SSB 6090; ESHB 1080) are passed and signed into law.

Protect Funding for Dedicated Accounts within the Capital Budget

(Capital Budget) I’ve shared that the 2017-19 Capital Budget does a very good job overall of preserving dedicated accounts for outdoor recreation. The one outlier – the ALEA – came in at only $1 million because the $5.3 million proposed for the Account by Governor Inslee included $4.3 million worth of bond backfill which the Legislature redeployed elsewhere.  We are working hard to see if we can restore some or all of the $5.3 million funding level the Governor had initially proposed.  I met at length last week with Senate and House Capital Budget staff and subsequently briefed the Senate Democrats’ Caucus staff on Capital Budget matters.  I also had conversations on ALEA with Reps. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia/22nd Dist.), Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds/21st Dist.), and Norma Smith (R-Clinton/10th Dist.).  All are Vice-Chairs and/or Ranking Members on Capital Budget and two of those three (Doglio, Smith) will be in the negotiating room when it comes time to decide various Supplemental Capital Budget allocations.  I have also alerted Island County, Spokane, Skagit County, the Port of Kennewick, Seattle, King County, and Edmonds to work this so that their project funding potentially can be reinstated.

Future Initiative:  Funding/Financing Options to Address Parks and Recreation M&O

(Tax Policy Bill) WRPA Legislative Chair Paul Simmons of Olympia has set up an initial 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21 meeting via conference call to start our Work Group effort on this issue.  As previously reported, our goal is to gather ideas, shop a list of potential funding options to key legislators, and have a 2019 proposal by the fall. If you have questions about when this starts or are interested in taking part in the effort, please e-mail Paul at [email protected]


Oppose Legislation to Prematurely Place Regulatory Burdens on “Crumb Rubber” Fields(Potential Policy Bill) No 2018 legislation anywhere to be found.  Woo!

“Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition

(Budgetary, Policy Items) WRPA has strongly supported the work of the Big Tent and is one of several dozen members of the coalition.  The Big Tent helped form the new “Outdoor Recreation Caucus” that now meets every Thursday at 7 a.m.  Last week we heard a briefing from the firm that analyzed how a new tourism marketing program could capitalize on our state’s natural and outdoor assets.  Outdoor Recreation Caucus meetings are open to all who are interested in attending. They take place in the House Rules Room.

Support efforts to make the system of outdoor recreation passes simpler, more equitable, and more convenient (Policy Bill/Bills) The Ruckelshaus Center, in consultation with state natural resource agencies, completed a report late last year recommending ways to simplify outdoor recreation passes and make them more convenient to obtain.  Governor Inslee’s proposed Operating Budget included a $75,000 proviso to more precisely cost out what it would take to move pass-simplification efforts forward. In the meantime, a bill to take some first small steps on pass simplification, SHB 2652, advanced to House Rules last Tuesday.  SHB 2652 makes Discover Pass free days and exemptions more uniform across agencies. 

Advocate for Key “Healthy & Active Communities” Funding within the State Budget Process (Capital, Transportation, Operating Budgets): As part of its ongoing “Healthy and Active Communities” initiative begun several years ago, WRPA works to ensure adequate funding for programs in state budgets that better enable kids and adults to get outdoors, live healthy lifestyles, and stay healthy.  We expect status quo funding for these programs in the 2018 Supplemental Budgets – though public health agencies are asking to have marijuana revenue in the General Fund steered their way.  Along with supporting public health funding, other items we support include “No Child Left Inside” in the Operating Budget, several programs in the Transportation Budget (Safe Routes to Schools; Bicycle & Pedestrian Grants; “Complete Streets,” etc.) and of course WWRP, YAF, and more within the Capital Budget. 

Support Efforts to Address Mental Health, Homelessness, Affordable Housing (Operating Budget, Capital Budget, Policy Bills): WRPA applauds the $106.7 million Housing Trust Fund allocation in the 2017-19 Capital Budget, and is tracking policy bills to establish new funding, local options, or other policy advancements to address the state’s growing crisis in affordable housing and homelessness.  Here’s an updated list:

  • 2SHB 1570, making the $40 Document Recording Fee permanent in statute and authorizing counties to impose an additional surcharge of up to $50:  This legislation passed 51-47 off the House Floor last Thursday, with only one Republican “yes” vote.  It now moves to the Senate, where we expect the local option surcharge amount to be reduced.  We strongly support this legislation;
  • SHB 1797, local option authority for cities and counties to fund housing, homeless, and behavioral health facilities:  House Leadership keeps telling prime sponsor Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.) and advocates that this bill will come up on the House Floor any day.  A “Striking Amendment” by Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia/2nd Dist.) and a Floor Amendment by Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn/31st Dist.), will place new limitations on a 0.1 percent councilmanic sales tax authority for King County. Directive language requires funds to be equitably distributed throughout King County and for the county to comply with an annual reporting requirement.  A state sales tax remittance program in the bill is available to non-King County jurisdictions of 45,000 population or fewer.  It is very likely this bill will be amended in the Senate to give other counties 0.1 percent access.
  • SHB 2437, providing a new infusion of affordable housing capital and operating dollars through a .025 percent state sales tax credit:  This bill advanced to the House Floor Calendar last Thursday and will be amended further on the House Floor.  Amendments already in the bill require varying levels of county matching funds to access state sales tax credit monies ranging from 0.0125 percent to 0.025 percent. 2437 also continues to give counties options to bond the money. 
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 3SHB 2382: This legislation passed 53-45 off the House Floor last Friday.  It requires designated state agencies to remit 10 percent of net proceeds from state real property sales to the Housing Trust Fund through 2029.
  • Bills providing state matching funds to a 4 percent federal tax credit for affordable housing – SB 6532/HB 2913:  These bills are “dead” for the 2018 Session. The Housing Finance Commission plans to bring them back in 2019.
  • SHB 1987, allowing affordable housing density bonuses for projects on religious organization properties:  This bill by Rep. McBride advanced to the House Floor Calendar last Tuesday.  Under a Committee Amendment, cities would be able to offer density-bonuses to churches doing affordable housing projects, consistent with what they offer to others within their codes.
  • SHB 2538/SSB 6294, allowing local jurisdictions to fully waive impact fees for affordable housing developments:  These bills sailed off the House Floor (96-2) and the Senate Floor (44-2) last Thursday and Friday, respectively. As amended, they offer a narrow impact fee waiver for emergency shelters.
  • Bills allowing local jurisdictions to offer property tax exemptions and Real Estate Excise Tax transfers for low-income housing and low-income housing focused on the developmentally disabled – HB 2444, HB 2448:  Reps. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue/48th Dist.), and Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island/41st Dist.) are the prime-sponsors of these bills.  2448 already has passed unanimously off the House Floor; 2444 advanced to the Floor Calendar last Thursday.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – SHB 2667:  This Association of Washington Cities-supported bill passed off the House Floor last Thursday on an 88-10 vote.
  • Bills prohibiting housing operators from denying someone housing based solely on source of income – E2SHB 5407; E2SHB 2578:  These compromise bills passed off the Senate Floor (33-14 vote) and the House Floor (61-37) vote last Friday, marking a major milestone for Low-Income Housing Alliance advocates who have been working on this issue for several years.

Re-Establishing a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program – 4SSB 5251

(Policy Bill) This bill appears to have real momentum now. It passed unanimously off the Senate Floor on Saturday. 5251 would create a $1.5 million funding stream for tourism promotion in Fiscal Year 2019.  The bill had been structured to divert certain lodging-related sales taxes to create a $5 million per biennium funding stream thereafter, but that was pared back to $3 million a biennium under a Senate Ways & Means Committee amendment.  While these numbers don’t sound like much, the return of a state-funded tourism marketing program after a several-years-long hiatus would be a very big deal.


Other Bills

 (If you have bills you wish me to add, or are interested in particular legislation impacting local parks and recreation, please contact me at [email protected])

  • HB 2628, concerning the compensation of commissioners of certain Metropolitan Parks Districts:  Bravo to our friends with Metro Parks Tacoma, as their bill passed off the House Floor last Thursday by a 72-26 vote.  2628 is written to apply only to them.
  • SSB 6097, establishing a Work Group to assess the talent gap in the Outdoor Recreation sector:  This bill by Senate Higher Education Chair Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Islands/40th Dist.) remains in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SHB 1177, HB 1180:  It does not appear either of these bills will advance in 2018. The 1177 legislation gives holders of a State Parks Lifetime Veteran’s Disability Pass the same access to recreation lands they would receive from a Discover Pass.  1180 would enable residents with a 100 percent armed services disability rating to qualify for annual complimentary Discover Passes.  1177 never moved out of House Appropriations and 1180 never got out of a policy committee.
  • SB 5442, regarding the use of boating safety funds:  The Senate approved this bill last Thursday on a unanimous 48-0 vote.  It provides State Parks with more flexibility in using boating-safety funds and removes obsolete statutory language from Boater Education Card provisions of state law. 
  • SB 6123, prohibiting the use of state bonds to pay for state employees:  This bill appears to have “died” in Senate Ways & Means following a hearing back on Jan. 29.  The Office of Financial Management (OFM) and Recreation and Conservation Office Director Kaleen Cottingham testified in opposition to the legislation. While we understand the objective behind 6123, it would have removed significant funding needed for employees who help administer Capital Budget-based programs at RCO, State Parks, Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 
  • HB 2803, regarding recreational passes:  This legislation never cleared the House Environment Committee and is almost surely “dead” for the 2018 Session. It would have removed the requirement for a day-use permit or Discover Pass to access WDFW or DNR lands. 
  • HB 2756, wheeled All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) tourism routes: This legislation remains in the House Transportation Committee and may well be “dead.”  It establishes a pilot program for an ATV tourism route, to include a combination of highways, trails, and roads. It convenes a stakeholder group to identify potential routes, asks counties to designate routes, and would have counties enter into agreements with landowners in designating routes.  Pilot counties would have included Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Lewis.
  • SSB 6152, HB 2521, allowing counties to vacate roads abutting waterways when upkeep of the road would create a public safety hazard:  Of these bills, only SSB 6152 remains alive.  It advanced to the Senate Floor Calendar last Wednesday.  The underlying version of the bill caused anxiety among whitewater rafting, trails, and recreational boating groups which worried about the poor precedent it created.  Prime sponsor Ann Rivers (R-La Center/18th Dist.) worked with us on narrowing language to have the bill apply only to a particular property along the Lewis River. 
  • 2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  This legislation has been in House Rules since Jan. 29.  It removes “supplanting” provisions on levy lid lifts, criminal justice levies, and the .1 percent sales tax for mental health.
  • SHB 2737, studying the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of counties:  This bill appears to have “died” in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 6382, establishing a Work Group on state and local property tax reform – SB 6382:  This bill looks to have “died” in Senate Ways & Means.  It would have established a 14-member Work Group to evaluate ways to make state and local property tax systems more reliable, sustainable, and equitable.
  • Establishing a business plan for a new “Infrastructure Bank” – SSB 6375: This bill sponsored by Sens. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle/11th Dist.) and Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue/48th Dist.) appears to be wearing a “wait ‘til next year” name tag.  It had a Jan. 31 hearing in Senate Ways & Means but didn’t advance any further.
  • SB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  This bill passed unanimously off the Senate Floor last Wednesday. A unit-priced contract under 6143 is a competitively bid contract where public works are needed on a recurring basis, where the contractor agrees to a fixed period of time and an indefinite quantity delivery of work, and where there is a defined unit price for each category of work.
  • HB 2726, public-private partnerships for alternative public works contracting:  This bill “died” in the House Capital Budget Committee following a contentious Jan. 23 hearing.  The “P3” idea, while popular in some other states, remains controversial in Washington State.
  • ESSB 5838:  This legislation, prime-sponsored by now-departed State Senator (and current congressional candidate) Dino Rossi, is almost surely “dead” for 2018.  The bill would have established a priority in future capital bonding capacity to address a $500 million+ maintenance backlog for State Parks capital facilities.

 2018 Session—Week 6 List of Hearings & “Executive Sessions” —

Recommendations on Testify/Sign-In/Monitor for Public Hearings are in Italics


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Senate Economic Development & International Trade, 8 a.m. – Work session on “moving Main Street forward.” MONITOR.

House Labor & Workplace Standards, 8 a.m. – Hearing on SSB 5996, encouraging the disclosure and discussion of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. MONITOR.

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance, 8:30 a.m. – Hearing on 2ESHB 2057, concerning services and processes available when residential real property is abandoned or in foreclosure.  MONITOR.

Senate Health & Long-Term Care, 10 a.m. – Hearing on ESHB 2489, concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services. MONITOR.

Senate Ways & Means, 3:30 p.m. – Bills To Be Determined.

House Appropriations, 3:30 p.m. -- Bills To Be Determined.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections, 8 a.m. – Hearing on ESHB 1434, adding the use of shared leave for employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy disability or for the purposes of parental leave to bond with the employee’s newborn, adoptive, or foster child. MONITOR.

House Finance, 8 a.m. – Hearing on HB 2967, assisting Washington families by improving the fairness of the state’s tax system by enacting a capital gains tax and providing property tax relief; and ESSB 5143, concerning the exemption of property taxes for non-profit homeownership development. MONITOR

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