Legislative Update - 03-05-2018



 Doug Levy – 3/5/18

Those of us who have spent years patrolling the hallways of the State Capital often feel like we’ve seen it all when it comes to tracking the goings-on of the Legislature, the Governor’s Office, and the Executive Branch.  But even the most veteran Olympia-watcher had to have been jarred by the events of Week 8.

As the week ended, we saw a stunning gubernatorial veto of and repudiation of the Legislature’s previous action on a Public Records Act bill.  We saw House Republicans stage a mini-boycott and leave the Floor for several hours.  And we saw a lobbyist for firefighters, enraged that a “presumptive disease” bill was not going to move forward, act in a threatening manner and send e-mails to legislators that resulted in his expulsion from the Capital Dome and ultimately in the Washington Council of Firefighters asking for his resignation. “Surreal” is the word that comes quickly to mind.

All this occurred as lawmakers reached a final “opposite-house” cutoff deadline for bill action, closed in on final negotiations over budgets, took additional actions on a few gun-violence bills, and headed into what will become the final few days of the 2018 Session.

The jaw-dropper of the week remains Governor Inslee’s veto of a Public Records Act bill (ESSB 6617) that legislators had held a work session on, voted on, and passed overwhelmingly (41-7 in Senate; 83-14 in House) just days earlier.  The news media cried foul and went into advocacy mode, urging citizens to call and e-mail the Governor’s Office seeking a veto.  Thousands did.  The extent of the backlash surprised lawmakers, enough so that many of them combined on letters of their own to the Governor seeking a veto and a do-over on how to address legislative adherence to the PRA.  The veto did occur, leading to a temporary pushing of the “pause” button on a news media lawsuit against the Legislature and a coming formation of an interim Task Force to look at how to craft compromise legislation in 2019.  Click on this link below to view the Governor’s news release and to access his veto message; veto letters signed by 41 House Democrats, 16 Senate Democrats, and all House Republicans; and a letter from media plaintiffs in the public-records court case:


After our headliner of a Week 7, the WRPA had a quieter but still effective Week 8.  Legislators are on the verge of adopting studies of trails (Operating Budgets) and outdoor recreation assets (Capital Budget) that should prove helpful to us.  We are waiting on a final version of the Capital Budget.

Below 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 8 list of hearings and possible “Executive Session” action is at the bottom of this report (Page 6).


Top Priorities

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

(Capital Budget) The 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) As I reported last week, full funding for ALEA is in both the Senate-approved and House-passed 2018 Capital Budgets (ESSB 6095; Striking Amendment to ESSB 6095). What had been an $11.665 million allocation will shrink a bit to $10.7 million or so, because two of the 22 projects (Mercer Island - $380,000; Snoqualmie - $560,000) failed to certify their local match requirements. Still, the funding level for ALEA will end up being a historic one and hopefully bodes well for the integrity of the Account going forward.

If your agency is one of 20 benefitting from the ALEA investment, please dash off thank-you e-mails to the following: 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.). 

Project Funding for Dedicated Accounts – NOVA:  I shared this last week, but it bears repeating and reinforcing.  Despite what you may have read in some corners and despite an “Action Alert” from our friends at the Washington Off-Road Vehicle Association (WOHVA), there is no ‘raid’ or ‘sweep’ of NOVA (Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account). RCO has let us know that the change from $13.195 million to $11.3 million is no more than an adjustment down to actual accrued revenue in the account.  We have been assured that the final Capital Budget will reflect the $11.3 million.

Future Initiative:  Funding/Financing Options to Address Parks and Recreation M&O – and note studies/funding to look at “outdoor recreation assets” and benefits of walking/biking trails

(Tax Policy Bill; Capital-Operating Budgets) Our interim 2018 Work Group has been kick-started by WRPA Legislative Chair Paul Simmons of Olympia.  I am working to get legislators and Caucus staff involved in our work and have had positive conversations thus far with House Capital Budget Vice-Chair Beth Doglio (D-Olympia/22nd Dist.) as well as Capital Budget Committee Member Carolyn Eslick (R-Sultan/39th Dist.).  In the meantime, I want to let folks know about two funding/study provisos – one in the Capital Budget and one in the Operating Budget – that will shed additional light on outdoor recreation needs and benefits.  The Capital Budget proviso is one we drafted and worked on with Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake/13th Dist.) while the Operating Budget proviso has been led by the Washington Trails Association (WTA).  Both studies will be done by the Recreation and Conservation Office, with the Capital Budget-based one providing $100,000 for RCO to look at “outdoor recreation assets,” where the state has gaps, and investment strategies and options to consider.  The Operating Budget-based study provides $125,000 and directs an evaluation of the health and economic benefits of trail-based activities.  Here is the language for both (the trails one is in both budgets, I’ve cut-and-pasted the lengthier and more detailed House version):

Sec. 3057 of Senate-approved Capital Budget – Study of Outdoor Recreation Assets - $100,000 allocation to RCO

"The legislature recognizes that outdoor recreation in Washington provides multiple benefits including significant business and retail tax revenue, business and job creation, improved physical and mental health, higher quality-of-life that attracts and retains businesses and workers from beyond the recreation sector, and conservation and education values. To fulfill the goals of the 2018 recreation and conservation plan for Washington state, the recreation and conservation office must conduct a study that identifies recreational assets of statewide significance, where gaps in recreational assets exist, and investment strategies and options for addressing those gaps. The study must address existing and projected future needs of the people of Washington state.

(2) The office must submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the appropriate committees of the legislature by June 30, 2019."


Sec. 304(3) of Operating Budget – Economic and Health Benefits of Trail-Based Activities - $125,000 allocation to RCO

(3) $125,000 of the general fund—state appropriation for fiscal year 2019 is provided solely for the board to conduct or contract for a study of the economic and health benefits of trail-based activities, including hiking, walking, and bicycling. The information gathered will assist in decision-making regarding the allocation of dedicated resources and investment in Washington's trail networks. Additionally, the information will aid in increasing and leveraging economic benefits in the development of public-private partnerships aimed at stewardship and growth connected to Washington's trail networks. The study may include, but is not limited to, analysis of the number of people in the state who hike, bike, and walk annually, economic contribution, environmental and social benefits, and mental and physical health outcomes. The study may also include regional case studies. As appropriate, the analysis must incorporate data from the state comprehensive outdoor recreation plan and federal initiatives to integrate outdoor recreation into GDP accounting. To allow for a collaborative process, the board must create an advisory committee of appropriate agencies and stakeholders, including hiking and bicycling groups. The board must report the results of the study to the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the legislature by October 1, 2019.



Oppose Legislation to Prematurely Place Regulatory Burdens on “Crumb Rubber” Fields (Potential Policy Bill) No legislation arose during the 2018 Legislature. 

“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 met several times and will continue with quarterly meetings and strategizing over the interim.

Support efforts to make the system of outdoor recreation passes simpler, more equitable, and more convenient (Operating Budget/Policy Bill) 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.  So, on budget and legislative fronts:  1) in both the Senate-approved and House-passed Operating Budgets (ESSB 6032/Striking Amendment to 6032), the Office of Financial Management (OFM) is provided $75,000 for a detailed analysis that will more precisely cost out what it would take to move recreation pass simplification efforts forward; and 2) SHB 2652 has been designated “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB) and remains alive, even though it has yet to pass the House (let alone the Senate). The bill includes ways to make the Discover Pass system more uniform.

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. I have shared with you that in 2018 Operating, Capital, and Transportation Budgets, funding remains pretty much status quo.  An exception is Section 219 of both budgets, which allocate $3 million to Seattle/King County Public Health to work on strategies that “stop and prevent” the spread of communicable diseases.

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, homelessness, and mental health.  I’ve been remiss in not listing an important bill on mental health field response teams, which is at the top of this updated list:

  • HB 2892, establishing a grant program to fund “Mental health field response teams”: While the near-companion 2SSB 5970 will not advance, a slightly-amended version of 2892 unanimously cleared the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Monday and the full Senate on Friday.  We have been instrumental in helping to advance this legislation, prime-sponsored by Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek/44th Dist.). As amended, 2892 would require the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) to establish a grant program to fund at least eight (8) “mental health field response teams” where local law enforcement combines efforts with mental health professionals to provide treatment and service alternatives to incarceration. Combined with a diversion center pilot project funded in the Operating Budget (for Snohomish and Spokane counties) and significant new funding in the Capital Budget for mental health facilities, 2018 will be remembered as a watershed Session for addressing these issues.
  • 2SHB 1570, making the $40 Document Recording Fee permanent in statute and authorizing an additional $22 surcharge that is distributed through the state Department of Commerce:  This legislation is a huge win for a coalition of cities, counties, and low-income-housing advocates.  1570 passed off the Senate Floor 27-21 on Thursday night and received a 54-42 final concurrence vote Saturday from the House. The state projects that with 1570, more than $15 million in additional funding for homelessness prevention will go to King County each biennium, with Pierce County gaining an additional $6.4 million+ and Snohomish County receiving a little over $6.1 million.   I am attaching alongside this report a full county-by-county list that shows expected new 1570 revenues for homelessness.
  • SHB 1797, local option authority for cities and counties to fund housing, homeless, and behavioral health facilities:  Barring some type of near-miracle, this legislation will end up “dying” in 2018.  The centerpiece of this bill – a 0.1 percent councilmanic sales tax authority for King County – proved to be very controversial. The bill also would have included a sales tax remittance tool for non-King-County cities with a population of less than 45,000.
  • ESHB 2437, providing a new infusion of affordable housing capital and operating dollars through a .025 percent state sales tax credit:  This House-passed bill is in Senate Ways & Means and remains very much alive since it is included in the House’s budget.  We were told last week that House Leadership will make final passage of 2437 a top priority.  As amended, 2437 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. Lastly, 2437 includes language that requires King County to ensure “equitable distribution” of funds throughout the county and to file annual reports on the funding.
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 3SHB 2382: This bill passed out of Senate Ways & Means last Monday on a split vote.  It then passed off the Senate Floor by a 26-23 vote last Friday.  As amended by the Senate, 2382 still requires certain state agencies to remit 10 percent of net proceeds from state real property sales to the Housing Trust Fund through 2029.  However, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is no longer covered by the bill. 2382 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.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – SHB 2667:  This is another important piece of housing legislation.  2667 advanced to the Senate Floor Calendar last Tuesday, passed the Senate 32-17 last Friday, and now needs one more concurrence vote to be delivered to the Governor. 
  • 2SHB 1987, allowing affordable housing density bonuses for projects on religious organization properties:  This bill by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.) came about as close as a bill can without passing.  1987 was on the Floor Calendar and on the Senate’s “Order of Consideration” to be heard and passed by 5 p.m. last Friday. However, that never happened and the bill thus “dies” for the 2018 Session. As amended, 1987 would have required that cities offer density-bonuses to religious organizations doing affordable housing projects.  The density bonuses would have had to be consistent to what cities offer to other developers under their land-use codes.
  • SHB 2538, allowing local jurisdictions to fully waive impact fees for emergency homeless shelters:  With a 45-4 Senate vote last Wednesday, this bill is being delivered to the Governor.
  • Prohibiting housing operators from denying someone housing based solely on source of income –E2SHB 2578:  This compromise bill includes both a statewide prohibition on “source of income” discrimination and a newly-established landlord mitigation fund.  The bill advanced to the Senate Floor Calendar last Tuesday and passed the Senate 36-13 on Thursday.  It now needs one more concurrence vote from the House.

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

(Policy Bill) A 98-0 vote by the House last Friday sends this WRPA-supported bill to the Governor’s desk, re-establishing state funding for tourism marketing for the first time in a decade.  As amended, 5251 establishes a $1.5 million funding stream for tourism promotion in Fiscal Year 2019, and $3 million a biennium in subsequent two-year budgets.  The bill also requires a 2:1 private sector match, creating a $9 million a biennium tourism promotion program in the out years. The $1.5 million in funding is included in the Senate budget and the landslide House vote makes clear it will be in the final budget as well.  Most cities strongly support this legislation.

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 made it to the Senate Floor Calendar last Thursday, but did not pass off the Floor by last Friday’s 5 p.m. cutoff deadline.  Unless Metro Parks Tacoma pulls a procedural rabbit out of the hat, this bill may be “dead” for 2018.
  • 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.) u “died” in Senate Rules.
  • ESB 6140, promoting the efficient and effective management of state-owned lands: This Department of Natural Resources (DNR) request bill is listed in the Senate-passed Operating Budget and thus remains alive, even though it got stuck in House Rules last week.   The main focus of the bill is to update state law regarding un-platted tidelands, so that lessors of DNR aquatic lands that are not platted can utilize longer-term leases.  The House Capital Budget Committee removed controversial language regarding timber investment management organizations (“TIMOs”) that previously had been added to 6140 in the Senate.
  • HB 2829, de-annexing from a Park and Recreation District:  While this bill “died,” prime sponsor Carolyn Eslick (R-Sultan/39th Dist.), is very interested in our interim work on parks and recreation funding needs – as I noted above.  She brought this bill forth 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.
  • SB 5442, regarding the use of boating safety funds:  This bill passed out of House Appropriations last Monday on a 20-12 vote that proved to be its undoing.  Language in the bill title refers to “surplus” funds and that the requesting agency, Washington State Parks, sideways with some key legislators.  5442 remained in House Rules through last Friday’s cutoff deadline and is almost surely “dead” for 2018. 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:  This bill is likely “dead,” as it moved to the House Floor Calendar last Monday but was not voted upon before the 5 p.m. Friday cutoff deadline.  The now-narrowly-crafted bill passed unanimously out of the Senate and the House Local Government Committee.  The underlying bill triggered some anxiety from outdoor recreation advocates who do not like seeing new hurdles placed in the way of access to public waterways. We had that same initial reaction and worked with prime sponsor Ann Rivers (R-La Center/18th Dist.) to make her bill very tight. But, 6152 appears to be in ‘wait til’ next year’ mode.
  • E2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  The Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) had to make a full-court press to get this bill out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Monday.  However, the bill then ended up “dying” in Senate Rules.  As amended, 2006 would have been stripped of earlier flexibility provisions, such as those removing non-supplanting language.  2006 also moved Veterans Assistance and Mental Health levies utilized by counties outside the general levy for purposes of property tax “suppression.” 
  • ESSB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  This bill moved to the House Floor Calendar last Monday, and then passed the House two days later on a 70-28 vote.  It will now be delivered to the Governor. We supported this bill to give cities more contracting flexibility. 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:  This bill “died.”
  • 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 following a hearing back on Jan. 25. It would have established a pilot program for an ATV tourism route, to include a combination of highways, trails, and roads.
  • SHB 2737, studying the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of counties:  While this bill is likely “dead,” $150,000 in funding is included in the House-approved Operating Budget to carry out the main provisions of 2737.  It is in Sec. 127(56)(a) of the House budget and reads in part:

“$150,000 of the liquor revolving account—state appropriation is provided solely for the department of commerce to conduct a study that analyzes counties' revenue capacity in relation to their constitutional and statutory obligations.”

  • SB 6382, establishing a Work Group on state and local property tax reform:  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.

2018 Session—Week 9 List of Hearings & “Executive Sessions” —

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


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

House Appropriations, 8 a.m. – Public Hearing on bills to be determined.

House Public Safety, 8 a.m. – Hearing on HB 3003, a “title only” bill related to local law enforcement that likely will turn into a ‘Use of Force’ amending measure. Possible Executive Session action on 3003 and House Initiative 940.  MONITOR.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Senate Law & Justice, 8 a.m. – Hearing on HB 3003, a “title only” bill related to local law enforcement that likely will turn into a ‘Use of Force’ amending measure. Possible Executive Session action on 3003 and Senate Initiative 940.  MONITOR.

NOTE:  We expect the Senate Ways & Means, House Appropriations, and Senate/House Transportation Committees to add Agenda items as budget negotiations conclude and “trailer bills” that go with the budgets are agreed upon.

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