Legislative Update - 03-12-2018



 Doug Levy – 3/12/18

“Gone but not Forgotten.”  That title belongs to a 1993 novel and a 2005 made-for-television movie, but it is also an apt one for the 2018 Legislature.

This Session will be remembered for a blizzard of legislation on use of force; gender pay equity; gun-violence measures that were (and weren’t) passed; housing and homelessness measures done and one that got away; property tax relief; “net neutrality”; preventing sexual harassment in the workplace; the Voting Rights Act and voting-registration reforms; “Breakfast After the Bell” – and much more.  It was a Session that saw lawmakers succeed in meeting McCleary obligations but fall short in enacting carbon or capital gains taxes, rebating Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes, and abolishing the death penalty.  And of course, there was the surreal passage of and retreat from a hastily-devised Public Records Act bill.

It also wouldn’t be right to pen this report without acknowledging some lawmakers – several of them shining lights – who are making the 2018 Session their last one.  The list includes Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane/6th Dist.), who is running for Spokane County Treasurer; House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn, who leaves an incredible transportation investment legacy; House Human Services & Early Learning Chair Ruth Kagi, whose imprint on legislation impacting children is equally indelible; House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen; and Reps. Larry Haler (R-Richland/8th Dist.), Terry Nealey (R-Dayton/16th Dist.), Liz Pike (R-Camas/18th Dist.), Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie/5th Dist.), and Melanie Stambaugh (R-Puyallup/25th Dist.).

On the heels of Session, the media has produced a series of articles these last few days on winners and losers from 2018, the ambitious agenda of (narrow) majority Democrats, and the ones that got away.  In true egalitarian fashion, I’ve linked two articles each from the Seattle Times, (Tacoma) News Tribune, and (Everett) Herald – all very good reads and reviews of the 60-day Session just completed.







For WRPA, the 2018 Session ended on a high, most notably with the final-week passage of the Fiscal Year 2018 Supplemental Capital Budget (ESSB 6095).  The House approved it last Tuesday on a 96-2 vote, and the Senate made it their last Floor action of the Session, approving it 49-0. It includes a historic level of funding for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Act (ALEA) and an important outdoor recreation proviso.

Below is my usual overview of how we fared on WRPA top priorities and “support” or “oppose” measures, followed by a listing of some other bills of interest. We don’t have any hearings to worry about this week!


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) were passed and signed into law back on Jan. 19.

Protect Funding for Dedicated Accounts within the Capital Budget – Fantastic News on ALEA

(Capital Budget) Yahoo! The 2018 Capital Budget includes an ALEA funding level that is nearly twice as robust as any provide by the Legislature since the Account was established in the mid-1990s! As it turns out, all 22 projects first allocated funding have been certified and will receive ALEA dollars. The funding level ended up being $12.285 million and you can find the list here:


We at WRPA may do a big “thank you” to key architects of the ALEA funding at our annual conference.  Still, if your agency’s project is one of the 22 benefitting from the investment, please send appreciation e-mails to: Ways & Means Chair for Capital Budget David Frockt (D-Seattle/46th Dist.); backup Capital Budget negotiator Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah/5th Dist.); Capital Budget Chair Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness/24th Dist.); Vice-Chairs Beth Doglio (D-Olympia/22nd Dist.) and Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds/21st Dist.); Ranking Member Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis/20th Dist.); and Assistant Ranking Member Norma Smith (R-Clinton/10th Dist.). 

Project Funding for Dedicated Accounts – NOVA:  The Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA) is not shown in the final 2018 Capital Budget, because the Account is not provided with any new funding.  There was no ‘raid’ or ‘sweep’ of NOVA.  The Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) will fund the Account to revenue that has been generated -- $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 – led by Legislative Chair Paul Simmons (Olympia) – is underway.  Late this week, I will re-start the effort to get legislators and Caucus staff involved. I had productive conversations already with Capital Budget Vice-Chair Beth Doglio (D-Olympia/22nd Dist.) and Committee Member Carolyn Eslick (R-Sultan/39th Dist.).  In the meantime, I am re-listing provisos that speak to related efforts to fund outdoor recreation priorities – one in the Capital Budget, one in the Operating Budget.  Several of us worked with Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake/13th Dist.)  on the Capital Budget proviso, while the Washington Trails Association led the successful Operating Budget effort.  Both studies will be done by the Recreation and Conservation Office. The Capital Budget-based one provides $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 item provides $125,000 and directs an evaluation of the health and economic benefits of trail-based activities.  Here is the language for both:

Sec. 7012 of final Capital Budget – Study of Outdoor Recreation Assets - $100,000 allocation to RCO in Sec. 3051

"(1) 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) This issue was a 2018 non-issue, as 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 a possible outdoor tour 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.  On budget and legislative fronts:  1) in the final Operating Budget (ESSB 6032), Sec. 129(12) under the Office of Financial Management, $75,000 is included for a detailed analysis and cost estimating of what it would take to move recreation pass simplification efforts forward; and 2) SHB 2652, even after being designated “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB), ended up “dying” on the House Floor Calendar.  It would have made some changes to the Discover Pass system to make things such as free days more uniform across state 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. The 2018 Operating, Capital, and Transportation Budgets mostly preserve existing funding vs. allocating new dollars.  An exception is Section 219(39) of the final Operating Budget, which allocates $3 million to Seattle/King County Public Health to work on strategies that “prevent and stop 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 $4 million in additional HTF funding (for four designated projects) in the 2018 Supplemental. WRPA also tracked 2018 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.  Here are a few that reached the finish line – or came excruciatingly close:

  • HB 2892, establishing a grant program to fund “Mental health field response teams”: When the House concurred with Senate amendments on a 97-0 vote last Monday night, this one was done.  The bill marks an important victory for prime-sponsor John Lovick (D-Mill Creek/44th Dist.), Senate sponsor David Frockt (D-Seattle/46th Dist.) and of course both law enforcement and city representatives who worked on this measure (including us!). As amended, 2892 requires 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. The grant program must be underway by Oct. 1. 
  • 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:  The House provided the final concurrence vote (54-42) for this legislation on March 3, and it has been delivered to the Governor. The bill marks a huge win for a coalition of cities, counties, and low-income-housing advocates.  The state projects that with 1570, an additional $52.7 million will be available to combat homelessness throughout the state’s 39 counties. I am once again attaching alongside my report the full county-by-county list.
  • ESHB 2437, providing a new infusion of supportive housing capital and operating dollars through a .01 percent state sales tax credit:  Despite a day of lobbying and vote-counting among a coalition of us, this bill “died” on the Senate Floor Calendar.  At least two Senate Democrats were prepared to vote “no” on the measure, and our attempts to offer amendments to ensure Republican votes simply fell short and ran out of time.  2437 had been significantly amended in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, with the maximum sales tax credit tax rate lowered to .01 percent, the scope of the bill narrowed to supportive housing, and the fiscal impact over a three-year period reduced from $65 million to $33 million. While the close-but-no-cigar failure of 2437 is a disappointment, 2018 will still go down as an extremely productive Session on affordable housing and homelessness fronts.
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 3SHB 2382: The House concurred with Senate amendments to this bill last Monday on a 53-44 vote.  The legislation was delivered to the Governor on Thursday.  As amended, 2382 requires state agencies other than the Washington State Department of Transportation (exempted out) to contribute 10 percent of the proceeds from their surplus property sales, through the year 2029, to the Housing Trust Fund.  The bill provides local governments the option of doing the same, at their discretion.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – SHB 2667:  The House voted 90-7 last Monday to concur with Senate amendments and deliver this AWC-supported bill to the Governor. 
  • SHB 2538, allowing local jurisdictions to fully waive impact fees for emergency homeless shelters:  Lawmakers delivered this City of Kirkland-promoted bill to the Governor last Tuesday.
  • Ø  Prohibiting housing operators from denying someone housing based solely on source of income –E2SHB 2578:  When the House concurred 67-31 with Senate amendments last Tuesday, this one, too, headed to the Governor.  For affordable housing groups, the passage of 2578 culminates a several-year-long journey.  This important bill includes both a statewide prohibition on “source of income” discrimination and a newly-established mitigation fund for landlords that make repairs and upgrades to their properties. 

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

(Policy Bill/Operating Budget) This bill was delivered to the Governor last week.  While the funding level seems modest, it lays an important foundation, re-establishing state funding for tourism marketing for the first time in a decade.  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. This is a positive bill for local communities that recognize the direct nexus between tourism promotion and economic vitality.


Other Bills

 (If you have bills you are interested in that I did not list below, please contact me at (425)922-3999 or [email protected])

  • HB 2628, concerning the compensation of commissioners of certain Metropolitan Parks Districts:  This bill by our friends at Metro Parks Tacoma passed the House and the Senate Local Government Committee, advancing to the Senate Floor Calendar.  However, the bill “died” there.
  • SSB 6097, establishing a Work Group to assess the talent gap in the Outdoor Recreation sector:  This legislation prime-sponsored by Senate Higher Education Chair Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Islands/40th Dist.) “died” in Senate Rules.
  • ESB 6140, promoting the efficient and effective management of state-owned lands: This Department of Natural Resources (DNR) request bill came oh-so-close to the finish line on the Session’s final day, passing 98-0 out of the House.  However, it never came up for a Senate Floor vote before “Sine Die.” The main focus of the bill was 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 bill got bogged down with controversial language regarding timber investment management organizations (“TIMOs”) and that proved its undoing.
  • 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 is grappling with being part of an old Parks District that is not operational any longer.
  • SB 5442, regarding the use of boating safety funds:  This bill “died” in House Rules and barely missed final passage for a second straight Session.  The fact that the bill title included language referring to “surplus” funds got Washington State Parks sideways with some key legislators.  5442 would have provided State Parks with more flexibility in using boating-safety funds while removing 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 “died” on the House Floor Calendar.  The prime sponsor took what a broad bill and narrowed it after the initial legislation triggered anxiety from outdoor recreation advocates who do not like seeing new hurdles to accessing public waterways. Southwest Washington legislators who wanted to remedy a problem on the Lewis River will have to try this one again next Session.
  • E2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  The Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) made a full-court press on this one, but it “died” in Senate Rules.  As amended, 2006 had been stripped of earlier flexibility provisions, such as those removing non-supplanting language.  The narrower billmoved Veterans Assistance and Mental Health levies utilized by counties outside the general levy for property tax “suppression” purposes.  
  • ESSB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  Legislators delivered this bill to the Governor last Tuesday.  It gives 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 “died” in Committee. 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.
  • SHB 2737, studying the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of counties:  This bill “died” and language attached to it did not make it into the final Operating Budget.
  • 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. However, in Section 129(17) of the final Operating Budget, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) is provided with $480,000 to evaluate “benefits and risks of establishing” a state bank.
  • SHB 1177, HB 1180:  Neither of these bills advanced during the 2018 Session. 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.
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