Legislative Update - 02-20-2018



 Doug Levy – 2/19/18

A barrage of bills will give way to a bevy of budgets starting later today, as the Legislature heads into the final three weeks of the 60-day Session.  Fiscal Year 2018 Operating (PSSB 6032), Capital (PSSB 6095), and Transportation (PSSB 6106) budgets will emerge, and a hearing on the Capital Budget is this afternoon.

Building the state’s supplemental budgets – especially the Operating Budget – got a whole lot easier for lawmakers last Thursday when the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the latest quarterly state-revenue update.  The sizzling economy and the nation’s hottest housing market combined to push revenue projections up $647 million for the remainder of the 2017-19 biennium, and another $671 million for 2019-21 – the largest quarterly revenue increase since pre-recession days.  Combine that with $225 million in state case-load savings, and you have almost $1.5 billion+ in additional resources available to lawmakers.  Senate Ways & Means Chair Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island/23rd Dist.) said the added revenue made it more likely the Senate would stay the course in fully funding K-12 McCleary obligations and other legal requirements (such as Western State Hospital) – and propose some short-term property tax relief. 

The new revenue matches – and even exceeds – the additional $1.5 billion in spending proposed back in December 2017 by Governor Inslee with the help of a carbon tax.  It’s safe to say that carbon tax and capital gains tax proposals, while still technically in play, have just been given a much steeper hill to climb.

One sad note to pass along regarding the Legislature and budgets involves the House’s chief operating budget writer, Appropriations Chairman Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane/3rd Dist.).  Rep. Ormsby was cited for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) last weekend after his jeep rolled off the road.  House Democratic Leaders are considering what action to take; it’s possible Ormsby’s chairmanship could go by the wayside.

Going by the wayside is also an apt description of what happened to hundreds of bills last week, as lawmakers passed a February 14 “House of Origin” cutoff where legislation (other than measures designated “Necessary to Implement the Budget,” or NTIB) had to have cleared the House or Senate to remain “alive” for the rest of the 2018 Session.  One colleague counted 121 bills left “dead” on the House Floor Calendar and another 66 on the Senate Floor Calendar – not to mention dozens more that remained in the Rules Committees and “died” there.

A last weekly wrap-up note focuses on a different kind of ‘death’ – the death penalty.  Senators voted 26-22 last Wednesday in support of SB 6052 to abolish the death penalty in Washington.  The bill now goes to the House, where Judiciary Chair Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma/27th Dist.) supports the measure but acknowledges its fate remains up in the air.

Week 6 will go in the books as a terrific one for WRPA, based on what Senate and House Supplemental Capital Budgets are doing on Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA) funding.

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 lengthy Week 7 list of hearings and possible “Executive Session” action is attached separately.


Top Priorities

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

(Capital Budget) 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 – Fantastic News on ALEA!

(Capital Budget) While the 2017-19 Capital Budget did a great job overall of preserving dedicated accounts for outdoor recreation, we have consistently pointed to one troubling exception:  ALEA. That account was funded 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 have been diligently working to restore some or all of the $5.3 million funding level the Governor had initially proposed.  While I do not yet have exact numbers, my understanding is that both the Senate and House Capital Budgets will not only reach but exceed the $5.3 million level! We need to be prepared, starting today, to offer profuse thanks to the likes of:  Senate Ways & Means Chair for Capital Budget David Frockt (D-Seattle/46th Dist.); backup Capital Budget negotiator Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah/5th Dist.); House Capital Budget Chair Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness/24th Dist.); House Capital Budget Vice-Chairs Beth Doglio (D-Olympia/22nd Dist.) and Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds/21st Dist.); Capital Budget Ranking Member Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis/20th Dist.); and Capital Budget Assistant Ranking Member Norma Smith (R-Clinton/10th Dist.).  We’ll start the “thank you” parade today with a panel testifying on the Senate’s Capital Budget.  Of course, the real winners are the project applicants in Island County, Spokane, Skagit County, the Port of Kennewick, Seattle, King County, and Edmonds whose project funding can go forward!

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

(Tax Policy Bill) Our interim 2018 Work Group to begin evaluating this issue, and viable options to take into the 2019 Session, begins this Wednesday (Feb. 21)! WRPA Legislative Chair Paul Simmons of Olympia has set up a 2-3 p.m. conference call to kick off the Work Group and has distributed a packet of information.  Yours truly will plan to be on the call as well. As I’ve 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 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) We did not see a proposal during the 2018 Legislature.  Yahoo!

“Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition

(Budgetary, Policy Items) WRPA has strongly supported the Big Tent and is one of several dozen members.  The new “Outdoor Recreation Caucus” that the Big Tent helped establish meets each Thursday at 7 a.m.  Outdoor Recreation Caucus meetings are in the House Rules Room and are open to all who are interested.

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.  We will get our first clues today on whether the Legislature includes Governor Inslee’s proposed $75,000 Operating Budget proviso to more precisely cost out what it would take to move recreation pass simplification efforts forward. Unfortunately, a bill to take some first small steps on pass simplification, SHB 2652, “died” on the House Floor Calendar. 

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.  With the possible exception of public health funding in the Operating Budget, we do not expect new funds for these programs in the 2018 Supplemental Budgets.

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.  The 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 will be heard today in the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee.  There are policy questions about whether the $50 surcharge will remain a local option or go to the state to be distributed.  It is also very possible the Senate will reduce the amount of the surcharge.  We strongly support 1570.
  • SHB 1797, local option authority for cities and counties to fund housing, homeless, and behavioral health facilities:  This bill has been designated “NTIB,” but after sitting on the House Floor Calendar for nearly a month, there is a real question about whether House Leadership truly intends to run this bill by prime sponsor Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.).  A Floor Amendment by Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn/31st Dist.) that would have turned the 0.1 percent “councilmanic” sales tax for King County into a voter-approval-required 0.1 percent, created some real havoc last week for 1797.  Its fate is now uncertain. The bill also has a state sales tax remittance program available to non-King County jurisdictions of 45,000 population or fewer. 
  • SHB 2437, providing a new infusion of affordable housing capital and operating dollars through a .025 percent state sales tax credit:  This bill has also been declared NTIB and remains on the House Floor Calendar.  Amendments already woven into the bill require varying levels of county matching funds to access state sales tax credit monies of anywhere from 0.0125 percent to 0.025 percent. 2437 also continues to give counties options to bond-finance to maximize the money.  We support 2437.
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 3ESHB 2382: After narrowly passing off the House Floor, this bill is scheduled for a hearing this Tuesday in the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee. It requires designated state agencies to remit 10 percent of net proceeds from state real property sales to the Housing Trust Fund through 2029.  It also requires all state agencies to notify state, local, federal and tribal entities of any surplus state land sales, with affordable housing as a use if mutually agreeable terms are reached.
  • 2SHB 1987, allowing affordable housing density bonuses for projects on religious organization properties:  This bill by Rep. McBride has passed off the House Floor and has a hearing this Wednesday afternoon in Senate Human Services & Corrections.  Under a Committee Amendment, cities and counties would have to offer density-bonuses to churches doing affordable housing projects that are 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:  Now that these bills have been narrowed to apply just to homeless shelters, they are moving briskly along.  The House measure already has been heard in Senate Local Government, while 6294 will be heard in House Community Development on Tuesday and passed this coming Thursday.
  • 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 – EHB 2444, HB 2448:  Of these bills, 2444 by Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue/48th Dist.) may face a stiffer challenge. It has been referred to Senate Ways & Means since it would extend REET tax incentives. 2448 by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island/41st Dist.) has passed the House, had a Senate hearing, and is due to pass out of Senate Human Services & Corrections on Monday.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – SHB 2667:  This AWC-supported bill to ensure continued eligibility for HEN services has passed the House and will be heard this coming Wednesday in Senate Human Services & Corrections.
  • Bills prohibiting housing operators from denying someone housing based solely on source of income – E2SHB 5407; E2SHB 2578:  These compromise bills appear poised to pass the Legislature after several years of negotiation, partly because they create a landlord mitigation program within the Department of Commerce to help landlords seek financial reimbursement for repairs of damages to qualifying rental units.  The bills also authorize a $3 increase to a surcharge on Document Recording Fees – with a portion of that new surcharge going into the Landlord Mitigation Fund. 5407 is pending in House Judiciary while 2578, which may end up being the “vehicle,” is due to pass out of Senate Financial Institutions this coming Thursday.
  • SB 6555, fire-safety requirements for religious organizations providing temporary housing for the homeless: Fire agencies and local governments expressed strong concerns with this bill, as it would have prohibited requirements for fire sprinklers in churches housing the homeless on a temporary basis. 6555 “died” in Committee.

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

(Policy Bill) This WRPA-supported bill has a Tuesday hearing in House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Relations and may well pass out of the Committee the same day.  5251 as amended would create a $1.5 million funding stream for tourism promotion in Fiscal Year 2019, and $3 million a biennium in subsequent two-year budgets.  It would be a real win to see the return of a tourism marketing program for which lawmakers shelved funding during the recession.

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:  This bill by our colleagues at Metro Parks Tacoma passed out of the House and had a Senate Local Government hearing last Thursday. It is written narrowly to apply only to one agency.
  • 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.) unfortunately “died” in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • ESB 6140, promoting the efficient and effective management of state-owned lands: This Department of Natural Resources request legislation is the victim of a very broad bill title.  It was introduced as a simple bill to fix outdated and overly restrictive lease terms for un-platted tidelands.  But as passed by the full Senate, the bill now includes Section 6 provisions directing the DNR to evaluate the potential leasing of lands to timber investment management organizations (“TIMOs”).  That’s not going over well with environmental organizations and outdoor recreation advocates who will ask for the Section 6 provisions to be removed from 6140 when it is heard Tuesday in the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.
  • HB 2829, de-annexing from a Park and Recreation District:  I’ve been remiss in not listing this bill brought forward on behalf of the City of Monroe, which wants to invest more funds in parks and recreation but is saddled with being in an old Parks District that is not operational any longer. After passing out of a policy committee and advancing to the House Floor Calendar, 2829 “died” there.  We in WRPA had supported the bill because it required a public process and public vote before any de-annexation could occur.
  • SB 5442, regarding the use of boating safety funds:  The Senate unanimously approved this bill and it is now in the House Appropriations Committee.  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. 
  • SSB 6152, allowing counties to vacate roads abutting waterways when upkeep of the road would create a public safety hazard:  While we are never fans of legislation that could compromise access to public waterways, we nonetheless credit 6152 prime sponsor Ann Rivers (R-La Center/18th Dist.) for amending her Senate-approved bill to keep it very narrow.  SSB 6152 applies only to the vacation of a county road that presents a potential public safety risk, terminates at a private road, and involves hazards to a mainline railroad bridge.  It is aimed at dealing with safety hazards at a private property along the Lewis River in North Clark County.  We are neutral on 6152, which will have a Tuesday hearing in House Local Government and should pass out of Committee Wednesday.
  • E2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  This legislation as amended applies mostly to county revenue flexibility.  It is a priority bill for the Washington State Association of Counties and passed out of the House last Wednesday on a 92-6 vote. 2006 has a Tuesday hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee.
  • SB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  This Association of Washington Cities (AWC) bill remains on track to pass out of the Legislature and towards the Governor’s desk.  After passing unanimously off the Senate Floor and receiving a committee hearing last Thursday, it is due to pass out of House Local Government this coming Wednesday. A “unit-priced contract” under 6143 is a competitively bid contract where public works are anticipated on a recurring basis, and where the contractor agrees to a fixed period, an indefinite quantity delivery of work, and a defined unit price for each category of work.
  • SB 6123, prohibiting the use of state bonds to pay for state employees:  We at WRPA joined the Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) in having strong concerns with this legislation, which has “died.” RCO Director Kaleen Cottingham testified in opposition to 6123, which 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 made it out of Committee and is “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 never made it out of the House Transportation Committee. It would have established a pilot program for an ATV tourism route, to include a combination of highways, trails, and roads. Pilot counties would have included Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Lewis.
  • SHB 2737, studying the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of counties:  This bill “died” in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 6382, establishing a Work Group on state and local property tax reform – SB 6382:  This bill “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.) “died” in the Senate Ways & Means Committee after receiving a hearing.
  • SHB 1177, HB 1180:  Neither of these bills will advance in 2018. The 1177 legislation would have given 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 have enabled residents with a 100 percent armed services disability rating to qualify for annual complimentary Discover Passes.
  • 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.
  • ESSB 5838:  This legislation, prime-sponsored by ex-State Senator (and current congressional candidate) Dino Rossi, is dead and gone for 2018.  It would have established a priority in future capital bonding capacity to address a $500 million+ maintenance backlog for State Parks.



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