Legislative Update - 02-05-2018



 Doug Levy – 2/5/18

Carbon tax and capital gains tax bills came alive in Week 4, and a slew of other bills “died,” as the Legislature hit its first policy committee deadline and moved toward the halfway mark of the 2018 Session.

More bills will hit the trash heap after this coming Tuesday, when the six fiscal committees in the Senate and House – Senate Ways & Means, Senate/House Transportation, House Finance, and House Capital Budget – bump up against their cutoff deadline.  For those of us who patrol the hallways of the Legislature, it’s a sigh of relief, given that the House is all the way to HB 2984 (that’s nearly 2,000 bills in the combined 2017-18 sessions) and the Senate is up to SB 6600 (a mere 1,600 – but with 49 Senators vis-à-vis 98 House Members).

Among all those bills, few Olympia-watchers would have placed high odds on the carbon tax bills – and they still face a steep uphill climb.  But on Thursday night, by a 6-3 vote (and with one Senator voting “without recommendation”), a modified SSB 6203 emerged from the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee.  The bill starts with a $10-per-metric ton tax on carbon emitters and ultimately ramps the per-metric-ton tax up to $30.  Some 56 manufacturing codes are exempted.  Here’s weekend media coverage of the carbon-tax bill clearing committee:


Less dramatic, but still intriguing, is the House Democrats’ decision to bring out a capital gains tax bill for a hearing.  HB 2967 had initially been placed on the Monday, Feb. 5 hearing calendar for House Finance, but has since been pulled because it can be labeled “NTIB” (Necessary to Implement the Budget) and heard later.  Our understanding is that a Friday, Feb. 16 hearing is likely.

Week 4 was a quiet one for WRPA. One key priority I am working on involves the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), on which I will have an important meeting with Senate and House staff on Wednesday.  See a bit more 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 Week 5 list of hearings and possible “Executive Session” action is at the bottom of this report (Pg. 5), with my recommendations on Testify/Sign-in/Monitor.


Top Priorities

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

(Capital Budget) We have turned our attention to what we expect will be a very skinny 2018 Supplemental Capital Budget, now that 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 reported that the 2017-19 Capital Budget does a very good job overall of preserving dedicated accounts for outdoor recreation. But on the one exception to the rule – the ALEA – we are working to see if we can restore some or all of the $5.3 million funding level the Governor had initially proposed.  Of that, $4.3 million had been through bonds which the Legislature re-allocated to other needs such as schools and the financially-struggling Model Toxics Control Act (MTA).  That left ALEA with $1 million and meant that only one project received funding.  Several others that had gone through an application, ranking, and evaluation process – King County, Island County, Skagit County, Seattle, Spokane, and Edmonds – would lose their project funding and start from scratch if a supplemental budget fix does not occur.  We are giving this one our absolute best shot, folks.  As I shared, I will be meeting Wednesday with Senate, House, and Caucus staff.  I will also be doing an action alert to the above-referenced list of agencies.

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

(Tax Policy Bill) WRPA Legislative Chair Paul Simmons of Olympia is leading up this effort and let me know that over 20 parks and recreation officials will be participating.  Wahoo!  Paul hopes to kick off the work group discussions as early as mid-February.  Our objective is to get ideas together and shop a list of potential funding options to key legislators by summer or early fall for a 2019 proposal.  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 has been proposed.

“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 has now met four times.  Sen. Warnick and Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles/24th Dist.) are serving as co-chairs of the Caucus, which will hear a presentation this coming week on how a tourism marketing plan proposes to capitalize on Washington’s outdoor assets.  Anyone is welcome to attend the Outdoor Recreation Caucus meetings.  They take place every Thursday at 7 a.m. 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.  Please note an error I made in last week’s report regarding the amount of Governor Inslee’s proposed Operating Budget for a proviso to more precisely cost out what it would take to move pass-simplification efforts forward.  The amount is $75,000, not the $50,000 I erroneously listed last week. Additionally, SHB 2652/SB 6128 would incorporate some “low-hanging fruit” recommendations from the Ruckelshaus Center report, such as making Discover Pass free days and exemptions more uniform across agencies.  While both bills had hearings 2652 is the one that cleared its policy committee and made it to the fiscal committees.  It will be heard today at 1:30 p.m. in House Appropriations.

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.  As I have reported, we don’t expect much if any new funding for these programs in the 2018 Supplemental Budgets – though public health agencies are making a strong pitch 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 in 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 Capital Budget, and is tracking policy bills that would establish new funding or local options to address the state’s growing crisis in affordable housing and homelessness.  Here’s an update on a handful:

  • 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 has been on the House Floor Calendar since Jan. 26.  It is one of a few bills that supposedly is about to go to the Floor and pass, but hasn’t yet. We support this legislation;
  • SHB 1797, local option authority for cities and counties to fund housing, homeless, and behavioral health facilities:  House Leadership assured prime sponsor Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.) late last week – again – that this bill will be coming up for a Floor vote soon. A “Striking Amendment” to be offered by Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia/2nd Dist.), includes new conditions on a 0.1 percent councilmanic sales tax authority for King County. Directive language within the 0.1 percent authority require the funds to be equitably distributed throughout the county and for the county to comply with an annual reporting/look-back requirement.  A state sales tax remittance program in the bill will be available to non-King County jurisdictions of 45,000 population or fewer.  We support this legislation, which still may be amended to give other counties the 0.1 percent access.
  • HB 2437, providing a new infusion of affordable housing capital and operating dollars through a .025 percent state sales tax credit:  This bill is due to move out of the House Finance Committee today with an amendment that would cut the .025 percent state sales tax credit in half – to 0.0125 percent.  Opt-in counties would then have to agree to fund a one-time match to get the rate up to .025 percent for the next 20 years.  As we have reported, 2437 also continues to give counties options to bond-finance to maximize the money.  The opt-in provisions give non-King-County counties until July 1, 2020, to utilize this new funding tool.  King County has until July 1, 2021.  After that, a city in a county could opt in on the state sales tax credits if counties do not act.  We support 2437.
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 2SHB 2382: This legislation had a rough 10-7 passage out of House Capital Budget on Friday and will be heard Monday in the House Transportation 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.
  • Bills providing state matching funds to a 4 percent federal tax credit for affordable housing – SB 6532, HB 2913:  The Senate version of this bill, prime-sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah/5th Dist.), passed out of his Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee last Thursday with only one no vote.  The House version by Rep. McBride “died” in the House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee.  6532 would cost the general fund $14 million a biennium so it faces an uncertain future.  
  • SHB 1987, allowing affordable housing density bonuses for projects on religious organization properties:  This bill by Rep. McBride is in House Rules.  Under a Committee Amendment, cities would be able to offer density-bonuses consistent with what is offered to others within their codes.
  • SB 6555, regarding temporary housing for the homeless by religious organizations:  Washington Fire Chiefs, some cities, and others had major concerns with 6555, which “died” in the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee. The bill would have pre-empted local officials from requiring fire sprinklers in churches and religious facilities that house the homeless on a temporary basis.
  • SHB 2538/SSB 6294, allowing local jurisdictions to fully waive impact fees for affordable housing developments:  Both these bills cleared their policy committees and are either on the Floor Calendar (6294) or in Rules (2538). As amended, both bills 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 passed unanimously off the House Floor Thursday, and 2444 cleared the House Finance Committee unanimously on Friday.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – HB 2667:  This bill, which already cleared a policy committee, had a hearing last Thursday in House Appropriations.

Re-Establishing a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program – 3SSB 5251, HB 2924

(Policy Bill) With 2924 not moving out of the House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee, it is now clear that 5251 will be the main vehicle for bringing back a state-funded tourism marketing program for the first time since the Great Recession.  The legislation had a positive hearing in the Ways & Means Committee last Tuesday. 5251 would create a $1.5 million funding stream for tourism promotion in Fiscal Year 2019 and up to $5 million per biennium thereafter.

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])

  • SB 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.) has now advanced to the Senate Rules Committee.
  • SHB 1177, HB 1180:  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 remains in the House Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 5442/HB 1604:  These companion bills are in the Rules Committees.  They provide State Parks with more flexibility in using boating-safety funds and remove obsolete statutory language from Boater Education Card provisions of state law. 
  • 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.
  • SB 6123, prohibiting the use of state bonds to pay for state employees:  The Office of Financial Management (OFM) and Recreation and Conservation Office Director Kaleen Cottingham testified in opposition last Monday at the public hearing for 6123. While we understand the objective behind this legislation, it would have negative implications for the future of employees who help administer Capital Budget-based programs at RCO, State Parks, Fish and Wildlife, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  We are opposed to 6123, which remains in Senate Ways & Means.
  • HB 2803, regarding recreational passes:  This legislation did not clear the House Environment Committee following a Jan. 22 hearing and is likely “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.  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 include 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.  The underlying versions of these bills caused angst among whitewater rafting, trails, and recreational boating groups which worried about the poor precedent it created.  The Clark County legislators who sponsored the bill aimed to address a particular property along the Lewis River.  Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center/18th Dist.) worked with us on narrowing language.  6152 is in Senate Rules.
  • 2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  This legislation advanced to the House Rules Committee last Monday.  It removes “supplanting” provisions on levy lid lifts, criminal justice levies, and the .1 percent sales tax for mental health.
  • SB 6382, establishing a Work Group on state and local property tax reform – SB 6382:  This bill, which awaits a vote in Senate Ways & Means, would establish 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.) cleared the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance and received a hearing in Senate Ways & Means last Wednesday.  However, the bill faces strong opposition from banking interests.
  • SB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  This bill remains on the Senate Floor Calendar. 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 of time, an indefinite quantity delivery of work, and a defined unit price for each category of work.
  • HB 2726, public-private partnerships for alternative public works contracting:  This bill had a rough Jan. 23 hearing and remains in House Capital Budget.  The “P3” idea, while popular and firmly ingrained by some other states, has been controversial in Washington State.
  • SB 6080, concerning the electrification of transportation:  Last Thursday, by a 7-2 vote (and with one other Senator voting “without recommendation”), the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee approved this bill establishing a comprehensive policy in law on electric vehicles.  The bill now goes to Senate Ways & Means.  While 6080 also dips into the multi-modal account to make sales tax exemptions for electric vehicles permanent, the amended bill would cap that amount at $33 million.  The bill also requires the Department of Commerce to report back to the Legislature on an alternative-fuel usage rule that asks local agencies to transition fleets “when practicable.”

2018 Session—Week 5 List of Hearings & “Executive Sessions” —

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

House Finance, 8 a.m. – Possible executive action on HB 2799, providing that certain local sales and use taxes may be used for prevention and outreach programs; and HB 2437, encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing.  MONITOR.

Senate Ways & Means, 10 a.m. – continued @ Noon – Hearing on SSB 5970, establishing the mental health field response teams program; SSB 6150, concerning opioid use disorder prevention and treatment services; and SB 6491, increasing the availability of assisted outpatient behavioral health  treatmentMONITOR.


House Transportation, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SHB 2382, promoting the use of surplus public property for public benefit.  MONITOR.

House Appropriations, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SHB 2652, concerning initial implementation of recommendations from the collaborative process carried out to implement the state parks operating budget proviso on recreational access fee systems; SHB 2578, ensuring housing options; and HB 2892, establishing the mental health field response teams pilot program.  Sign in SUPPORT of 2652; MONITOR the others.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

House Appropriations, 8 a.m. – To be announced.

Senate Ways & Means – 10 a.m. and continuing noon – To be announced.



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