2013 Legislative Session
Special Session Begins Today
Briefly, here is a flavor of what to expect and what the landscape is as the Legislature starts the 2013 Special Session, starting today and due to end on June 11. See report
Easy Reference Guide for status of WRPA top priorities, strong support and other issues.
WRPA legislative e-mail alert: Urges you to contact your lawmakers with an e-mail containing three key ‘asks’: 1) Hold up to $75.5 million for WWRP – or at least the $70 million in the House; 2) hold a $23.7 million general fund assistance level for State Parks; and 3) hold the $5.88 million for Youth Athletic Facilities that is in the Senate Budget. Remember folks -- your communication with your lawmakers can make all the difference at a time like this!
List of Projects NOT Funded in Senate Budget at the $90 million request level (posted 4/22/2013)
Special Session Begins - report
Regular Session Ends - report
Week 14 - report
Week 13 - report
Week 12 - report
Week 11 - report
Week 10 - report
Week 9 - report
Week 8 - report
Week 7 - report
Week 6 - report
Week 5 - report
Week 4 - report
Week 3 - report
Week 2 - report
Week 1 - report
2013 Session overview - report
What’s in the Governor’s budget rollout and what it means for parks and recreation.
Governor's Budget Proposal
Prepared by WRPA lobbyist, Doug Levy
Check back here often for weekly updates once session begins.
WRPA Priority Legislative Issues for 2013
Official WRPA 2013 Legislative Agenda
*Advocate for increased WWRP funding in 2013-15 Capital Budget
(Capital Budget) WRPA will work closely with the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC) to seek an increased level of funding for WWRP in 2013-15. The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board (RCFB) which oversees the state’s Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO) – after receiving recommendations from the Coalition and the WRPA -- have recommended a funding level of $90 million. The WWRP program is the WRPA’s highest priority, given the critical role it plays in assisting local parks agencies with funding for local parks, trails, water-access projects, etc. View Ranked Proposed Projects by Category
*Support State Parks efforts to secure general-fund monies
(Operating Budget) The WRPA will strongly support a State Parks request to secure $18 million from the state’s Operating Budget – so that there is general fund assistance for our cherished State Parks along with the fee-based Discover Pass program. For the WRPA, this is much more than a “state” issue. State Parks in fact bring people into local communities in some cases, serve as a tourism attraction in others, and help underscore the importance of outdoor recreation in our state’s quality of life and economy.
*Pursue legislation to re-establish funding for the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) Account
(Capital Budget/Policy Bill) The YAF account remains in state statute, but has not been funded for several years. The WRPA will lead a legislative initiative that seeks to re-establish YAF funding, through retention of 50 percent of the expected sales tax proceeds that would come from the application of sales tax on competitive leagues run by public agencies and private organizations. In crafting the legislation, the WRPA also will seek to ensure that Metropolitan Park Districts (MPDs) are made eligible to compete for this funding. Under state law, the YAF funding can be used for both capital needs as well as “minor works” efforts to keep facilities maintained. The RCFB also has recommended re-establishing YAF funding.
Support Issues for WRPA
*Pursue funding to support and enhance “Healthy & Sustainable Communities” efforts – including Complete Streets, Safe Routes to Schools, Bicycle & Pedestrian Grants, and the Recreational Trails Program
(Transportation Budget) The WRPA will join a coalition seeking to establish funding for the “Complete Streets” program (which is in statute but not funded), along with efforts to preserve and enhance funding for the Safe Routes to Schools program, bicycle and pedestrian grants, and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). All of these programs are integral to supporting the “Healthy and Sustainable Communities” initiative championed by WRPA.
*Capital Budget -- Support general-obligation bonds to restore Recreation Resource Account; protect funding for other dedicated accounts that are devoted to recreation; support any “Jobs Package” if brought forward
The WRPA will strongly support an effort led by the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and the Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW), which involves a one-time use of $3.3 million in general obligation bonds to restore funding that was diverted from the Recreation Resource Account (RRA) within the 2012 Supplemental Operating Budget. At the same time, WRPA will join other organizations to protect dedicated accounts that serve recreational needs, including the Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA), the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), etc. Additionally, if the Legislature pursues any type of “Jobs Package” in 2013, the WRPA will support it.
*Removal of “caps” on non-highway accounts for any 2013 Transportation Investment Package
(Transportation Budget) The WRPA is part of an outdoor recreation coalition that wants to ensure any 2013 transportation investment package removes an artificial 23-cent ‘cap’ on the amount of non-highway fuel tax revenue that goes to non-highway transportation accounts. Currently, when boaters, ORV users, and snowmobilers buy gasoline at the pump, nearly 15 cents of the 37.5 cents of total gas tax they pay goes into a general “Motor Vehicle Fund,” instead of being dedicated back to the accounts that build critical infrastructure for boating, for off-road trails, and for snowmobiling. As a matter of fairness and equity, the cap on fuel tax for the non-highway accounts should be removed.
*Easing property tax ‘suppression’ pressures on MPDs:
(Policy bill) The WRPA is also poised to support a 2013 legislative initiative by MPDs to ease property tax ‘suppression’ pressures that are impacting these Districts. MPDs leading these efforts are looking at four possible options for a bill in 2013.
*Enhance funding for gangs prevention and intervention grants
(Operating Budget) The 2012 Legislature included $250,000 in its Supplemental Operating Budget for a gangs prevention and intervention grants program. There will be efforts to bolster that funding in 2013-15. WRPA will support those efforts and wants to ensure that, if possible, any grant funding establishes an allowable and specific role for parks and recreation programs that serve as a positive outlet for youth. Overall, the WRPA views gangs intervention and prevention as a critical youth violence prevention issue, and as a vital way to make communities better and safer places.
*Hotel-Motel Tax – Extending authority for cities/counties to use it toward special events and festivals
(Policy Bill) In 2013, a broad-based coalition of interests representing cities, counties, the wine industry, Fairs, and the arts, will see to extend a current state law that allows local jurisdictions to use lodging taxes to help with the operating costs of special events and festivals put on by non-profit organizations. Parks and recreation departments and agencies are often involved in the work of putting on and promoting these festivals, and thus WRPA will strongly support this effort. If legislation is not enacted by the 2013 Legislature, the authority for cities and counties to utilize lodging taxes for special events and festivals is due to expire on June 30, 2013.
*Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) – Support efforts to ‘harmonize’ the use of the first quarter-percent REET and second quarter-percent REET
(Policy Bill) Under current law, cities and counties receive two ¼ of 1 percent increments of Real Estate Excise Tax (REET), which is imposed on purchase-and-sales transactions involving residential and commercial property. The authority for where the first ¼ of 1 percent may be used is decidedly broader and more flexible than the purposes for which the second ¼ of 1 percent REET may be used. There have been various efforts to “harmonize” the allowable uses of the first ¼ of 1 percent and the second ¼ of 1 percent REET so that they match up and the purposes for which they can be used mirror one another. If other organizations bring a “harmonize REET” legislative initiative forward in 2013, the WRPA will support.
Big Tent Outdoor Coalition
The Big Tent Outdoor Coalition is an umbrella organization formed to highlight the importance of our state’s outdoor recreation sector to enhancing Washington’s economy and its reputation for healthy and active living.
Kristine Rompa, Tax Policy Specialist, our new point of contact at DOR who is taking over league fees and issues and determinations on how charges for various amusement and recreational activities are taxable is asking for your feedback. Please send comments to her directly at kristineR@DOR.WA.US.
League Fees Meeting Results
Friday July 13, 2012 Metro Parks Tacoma
Over 60 people from over 38 agencies met with Kristine Rompa, Tax Policy Specialist, Patti Wilson, Local Government Liaison from the Department of Revenue for the discussion regarding league fees and issues and determinations on how charges for various amusement and recreational activities. Click here to listen to the meeting
May 2012: The Department of Revenue released this response to league fee questions.
Thank you for your letter in which you ask the Department to confirm how charges for various amusement and recreational activities are taxable. Your members said they were confused and concerned after reading the Departments Excise Tax Advisory 3167.2011, “Taxability of Fees Charged for Amusement and Recreation Services.” Each municipal agency administers their programs and events differently, has unique relationships with nonprofit entities and special arrangements for use of facilities and would like the Department to clarify how certain activities are taxable. You provided the following questions and scenarios and ask for official guidance. We apologize for the delay in our response. View letter
September 30, 2011
DOR sends a call for comments on Rule 183, due by October 21, 2011.
We are at the beginning of the formal ruling making process on WAC 458-20-183 (Rule 183) "Amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services" and are seeking written comments. We will be considering all comments when amending the Rule. We anticipate a draft on Rule 183 and conducting a CR101 hearing within the next couple months.
The purpose of this notice is to inform you about recent rule actions taken in September 2011.
WAC 458-20-183 (Rule 183) Amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services.
Why Rule making is being proposed: The Department is considering an amendment to WAC 458-20-183 to clarify the tax-reporting responsibilities of persons providing amusement and recreations services. In particular, the Department considering additional guidance on the following:
- 1.When charges for sport activities and sporting events are and are not subject to retail sales tax;
- 2. How tax applies to charges for the use of facilities and fields;
- 3.The conditions under which a charge is considered a nontaxable charge (for sales tax purposes) for "lessons" between nontaxable lessons and taxable amusement and recreation services; and
- 4.When an event put on by a nonprofit entity is considered a nontaxable fundraising activity.
The Department is at this time asking for written comments and suggestions for these issues and other issues stakeholders believe should be addressed in an updated Rule 183. If you would like to provide written comments, please submit comments by October 21, 2011 to Bridget McBryde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To obtain a copy of the filed CR form: See the Department's online Rule Making Agenda
For your convenience, a copy of Rule 183 can be accessed at: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=458-20-183
WAC 458-20-19401 (Rule 19401) Minimum nexus thresholds for apportionable activities.
DOR WAC on B&O tax for amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services
Over June 16 and 17, 2011 the Department hosted three meetings for interested parties to comment on the draft Excise Tax Advisory— “Taxability of Fees Charged for Amusement and Recreation Services.” (Draft Excise Tax Advisory 3167.2011) More than 100 people attended the meetings.
A primary concern of those in attendance was the issue date of the Advisory. After due consideration, the Department offers this response:
The Department of Revenue appreciates the participation and discussion at the June 16 and 17 stakeholder meetings regarding the collection of retail sales tax on fees charged for participating in a sports activity or event.
As was discussed at these meetings, the Department intends to issue an Excise Tax Advisory (ETA) on July 1. The Advisory will provide tax collection and reporting guidance on this issue.
A number of organizations were concerned they would not be able to make the system changes necessary to implement the new requirements by July 1. Many also expressed concerns that the July 1 date does not provide enough lead time to explain the change to participants. The Department was asked to reconsider the July 1 deadline.
The Department continues to believe all parties must move forward on this issue, and still intends to issue the ETA on July 1. The Department does, however, recognize the challenges this transition has for stakeholders. For that reason, full compliance with the ETA is expected no later than October 1, 2011.
The Department will work with taxpayers that make a good faith effort to comply during the July 1 – September 31 interim period; finding a fair resolution of the taxes they were not able to collect. To receive such consideration, the taxpayer must document that efforts were made to make necessary changes.
After reading the ETA, if you need clarification about your particular business/organization, you may request a private letter ruling. These responses, written for a specific taxpayer, are binding on both the Department and the taxpayer based on the facts presented.
This page will be updated periodically.
Questions or comments can be directed to Bridget McBryde, Tax Policy Specialist, at (360) 534-1579 or BridgetM@dor.wa.gov
ETA 3167.2011 Taxability of Fees Charged for Amusement and Recreation Services (pdf)
Departmet of Revenue (DOR) Meeting:
On Thursday June 16, 2011 our lobbyist, Doug Levy, convened the clarification meeting which was well attended with over 30 agencies both in person and on conference call. DOR provided this handout on site titled "Taxability of Fees Charged for Amusement and Recreation Services." You can also find it on the DOR home page.
The bottom line is that legislators did not act on legislation that could have exempted these fees. The folks at the DOR are working with us to help clarify definitions so that we are all speaking the same language. There is still some confusion on terms. They have listened to us and are considering our request to move back the date (July 1, 2011) so that we can make adjustments to our program guides and internal operating systems to adjust for this collection.
Important WAC's are:
WAC 458-20-189: Sales to and by the state of Washington, counties, cities, towns, school districts, and fire districts.
WAC 458-20-183: Amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services. **This WAC is currently under review for clarification.
WAC 458-20-169: Nonprofit organizations.
Attention, Parks & Recreation Officials: Start Gearing Up to Collect a Sales Tax on the Fees You Charge Participants for the Adult and Youth Leagues You Run – and to Pay State B&O Tax on Them As Well
With this Bulletin, we at WRPA are urging all parks and recreation departments to gear up as soon as possible to begin collecting sales taxes on the fees you charge to teams to participate in the various adult and youth leagues you operate. We also are urging that you begin gearing up as soon as possible to pay a state B&O tax since this will be viewed as an enterprise activity by the state.
As a reminder, the WRPA and others sought a legislative remedy during the 2011 Session (Senate Bill 5422/House Bill 1452) to clarify that the league fees we charge to teams are exempt from sales tax. The legislation also would have exempted any imposition of a state B&O tax upon those operating the leagues (in our case, parks and recreation). A Proposed Substitute Senate Bill 5422 would have actually clarified that the exemptions applied to government-run, non-profit run, and privately-run leagues.
While SB 5422/PSSB 5422 and companion HB 1452 remain technically eligible for consideration during the 2012 Session, the Legislature’s failure to enact a measure in 2011 has led the Department of Revenue to determine that it will begin to enforce state law and state regulations that require the collection of sales tax and the payment of state B&O tax in connection with the leagues run by governmental and private entities as well as many non-profit entities. The DOR has indicated that governmental, many non-profit, and private entities running leagues have technically been subject to the sales tax and B&O tax requirements for two-plus decades under Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-183 (“Rule 183”), but has freely acknowledges there has been significant confusion on this issue and an extremely low collection rate with respect to these taxes over the years.
The DOR formally notified us of its intentions during a stakeholder meeting with us on Thursday, June 16 at the DOR offices in Olympia. We at WRPA thank the nearly 30 parks and recreation agencies that were in attendance by person or via a telephone conference line for this meeting – and the dozens of local government finance and legal department staff who participated as well. Here is a summary of key points you need to know going forward:
- DOR ETA & Rule-Making: The Department of Revenue will be publishing an “Excise Tax Advisory” related to the WAC 458-20-183 (“Rule 183”) requirements and shared with us a draft of the Excise Tax Advisory (ETA). Here is a link to the Rule 183 and Draft ETA. DOR also will be developing a formal Rule on this issue and wants to engage parks and recreation professionals in the Rule-Making. We are providing a link to WAC 458-20-189, regulating sales to and by the state, cities and counties, etc.
- Likely Prospective: Because Rule 183 has been in place over the years, it is difficult for DOR to flat-out guarantee that the sales tax collection and B&O tax payment obligations are prospective only – but, the DOR has given us repeated indications that they are viewing this as a compliance issue going forward, not backward. As a DOR official said at the June 16 meeting: “We’ve been confused, and so you’ve been confused … July 1 is when we are really moving forward
- Start Date?: As for what specific date the DOR uses to begin more formally enforcing the sales tax collection and B&O tax payment obligations for leagues, the July 1 date came up at our meeting. Parks and recreation officials, however, noted that we already have published and announced summer league schedules and in many cases are at or near deadlines for fall league schedules and publications. We urged the DOR to look more at Jan. 1, 2012 as a more formal “going-forward” date – this will be taken under consideration and the DOR will be discussing it amongst an “Executive Group” that is reviewing this issue to develop numerous “scenario” questions for “Letter of RulingField Rental question – waiting to hear back: At our June 16 meeting with DOR, a key question came up: What if we as parks and recreation agencies are not running a league, but rather simply providing our fields to those who are running the league? What is the obligation in that case, if any. Please know that the DOR does not have a ready-made answer for how we deal with this scenario, and is reviewing it, and has pledged to get back to us.
- Questions? Confusion? Seek a “Letter of Ruling”!: The DOR is also recommending that, as we gear up to begin collecting sales tax from league teams and participants, and pay the B&O on these league activities, that we contact them with ANY questions we may have. Parks and recreation agencies may seek to have questions answered and ambiguities cleared up through a “Letter of Ruling” from the DOR, which the agency will strive to turn around within two weeks. The Letter of Ruling interpretation from DOR is then binding on BOTH the local agency and the Department of Revenue. “Letter of Ruling” inquiries should go to Bridget McBryde, a tax policy specialist with DOR, at BridgetM@dor.wa.gov More
- Qualifying non-profit youth leagues can be exempted from paying sales tax: The DOR indicated that qualifying, 501(c)3, non-profit youth leagues can present a “certification of exemption” from any sales tax obligation. For more detail on this question, please see WAC 458-20-169 related to non-profit organizations, which we have linked to here.
- Be Pro-Active – Begin Gearing up NOW: As we wait to hear back from DOR on whether July 1, 2011, or Jan. 1, 2012, is a formal ‘go-forward’ date, we are urging all of you to be pro-active and to swing into action. Please begin to gear up now to put your agency in position to collect league fees sales tax and pay the state B&O. Meet with your recreation staff, as well as finance and legal staff and IT folks which will have to initiate the systems to both collect the sales tax and pay the B&O tax (a .471% tax on retailing of amusement/recreation activities). And, as appropriately recommended by the Association of Washington Cities, please document every step you are taking in preparation for thiis.
- WRPA”: At the request of our members, the WRPA is also going to develop a number of “template” questions and scenarios to transmit to the DOR for a Letter of Ruling. Look for these to be developed, in cooperation with many of you, in the near future.
- Instructional lessons et al – not subject to sales tax, but are subject to B&O tax: At the June 16 meeting, we also differentiated things such as instructional lessons from leagues. These instructional lessons do not count as something that will be subject to sales tax, but would be subject to B&O tax as one of the enterprise activities we operate.
- Education and outreach – start now!: We recommend you begin NOW in talking to groups and leagues that typically participate in your programs, use your fields, etc. The DOR will be seeking to get information out to the various leagues and associations around the state as well, but they will not necessarily catch all of them. While our first responsibility is to gear up internally to ensure we are meeting tax collection and tax payment obligations, those leagues and participants are our ‘customers’ and we want them to be informed. Let these folks know of the obligation we will be incurring, and let them know HOW it came about – this was not your decision, but rather something that arose as a result of inaction at the state level.
- Structure fees and programs to cover your costs: We at WRPA are also advising member agencies to structure their recreation league fees in a way that covers your costs. You will actually receive a little bit of local sales tax revenue on the sales tax on league fees, but you will have administrative setup costs and state B&O tax responsibilities. Think about a cost-recovery approach to your fees. You may also wish to consider restructuring your leagues in a way that has others running them, and your agency simply supplying the fields – however, this is a local jurisdiction policy call best left to all of you!
- Questions? Please contact us! We at WRPA know this will be a learning process for all. We will be looking for venues and forums to continue to get the word out on this and discuss it. Also, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us – Brit Kramer at 360-459-9396 or email@example.com; Doug Levy at 425-922-3999 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Healthy & Sustainable Communities Coalition – 2011 Session Joint Priorities
One of the best strategies to combat the dramatically rising costs of health care is to prevent sickness, injuries, and ailments before they happen. But an alarming growth in obesity rates shows that we are, in fact, failing to do enough to prevent illness, promote good health, and provide the tools for active, healthy life styles. The Coalition has identified strategies that can be funded with in the Operating Budget; Capital Budget; Transportation Budget and Policy Legislation that demonstrate a commitment to public health. More
THE WRPA HEALTHY & SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE –
OUTLINING THE CHALLENGES, AND SOME INITIAL IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
10/14/09 "Simply put, in the absence of a radical shift towards prevention and public health, we will not be successful in containing medical costs or improving the health of the American people." -Quote from President Barack Obama-
The Healthy and Sustainable Communities Crisis is at hand
The challenges and pressures – and in some cases, the requirements -- to ensure the development of healthy and sustainable communities in Washington State have never been greater.
On the one hand, our state is part of a national crisis in health care. Nearly 46 million Americans are without health insurance of any kind, and overall health care costs continue to skyrocket. Data show we spend far more on health care than any other industrialized nation – with costs rising at twice the general rate of inflation, to the point where we now spend $6,500 a year on health care for every man, woman, and child. It is a crisis that has the United States Congress wrestling with health care reform legislation – legislation which, at this writing, has passed a Senate Finance Committee but is still being debated and refined.
One of the best strategies to combat the dramatically rising costs of health care is to prevent sickness, injuries, and ailments before they happen. But an alarming growth in obesity rates shows that we are, in fact, failing to do enough to prevent illness, promote good health, and provide the tools for active, healthy life styles. More
WRPA Lobbyist, Doug Levy, provides weekly reports during session. If there is a bill or issue that you feel WRPA should be monitoring please email Brit Kramer at email@example.com
$42 Million for Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition funding.
WRPA successfully advocated for cities and counties to use their annual real estate excise tax revenues (REET) toward operating and maintenance cost of existing capital facilities.
WRPA supported the passage of the Discover Pass legislation to keep State Parks open.
$70 Million for Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition funding.
$100 Million for Washington Wildlife & Recreation Coalition funding.
Conservation Futures, HB1631
Allows a county to spend a maximum of 15 percent of a conservation futures levy fund for maintaining and operating property acquired by the fund.
Metropolitan Park Districts, SHB2557
The bill amends the existing statues that regulate Metropolitan Park Districts, to allow counties and cities to work together to createMPDs or to do so alone. It also allows city or county councils to act as the board for a new MPD.
Legislative Task Force Report on Local Parks and Recreation Maintenance & Operations
Download Complete Report
WRPA Legislative Committee
Brian Adams, Skagit County
Leslie Betlach, Renton
Jessi Bon, Sammamish
Lori Cummings, Everett
Nancy Davis, Metro Parks Tacoma
Mary Dodsworth, Lakewood
Bruce Fletcher, Mercer Island
Eric Friedli, Seattle
Karl Harris, Aberdeen
Terry Higashiyama, Renton
Carrie Hite, Edmonds
Dave Johnson, Tukwila
John Keates, Mason County
Kathy Kravit-Smith, Pierce County
Craig Larsen, Redmond
Garin Lee, Kent
Pete Mayer, Snohomish Health Department
Shelley McVein, Bellevue
Tara Mizell, Marysville
Dick Muller, Longview
Arvilla Ohlde, Retired
Larry Otos, Mount Vernon
Jennifer Schroder, Kirkland
Paul Simmons, Cheney
Jessica Smeal, Key Peninsula Metro Park District
Ray Towry, Ephrata
Tom Teigen, Snohomish County
Robert Vaux, Anacortes