Legislative Updates from WRPA Lobbyist: 01/30/2017

LAST CALLIf you have not yet registered for the annual “Great Outdoors Day” co-sponsored by WRPA and the WWRC, and scheduled for Feb. 13, it’s getting down to crunch time!  We will have a morning briefing, noon-hour speakers (all four confirmed), and an evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.  You also will have a chance to meet with your lawmakers and cover key priority issues for WRPA and your organization.

The State Senate played the role of scene stealer in Week 3 of the 2017 Session.  At the start of the week, Republican Majority Senator (Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Ferry County/7th Dist.) resigned to take a Trump Administration job, leaving the Senate effectively in a 24-24 tie until a replacement is appointed.  By mid-week, another Senator (Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale/42nd Dist.) had accepted a Communications Director job tied to the revamping of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  And by Friday morning, Senate Republicans had rolled out their proposed education funding plan and queued it up for a Monday afternoon hearing.  Hours later, with one Senate Republican permanently gone and another bound to be gone often, Senate Democrats tried to set the wheels in motion on a takeover of the Senate Floor.

The Senate Democrats hoped to wrest at least temporary control to force a Floor vote on the so-called “levy cliff” bill, House Bill 1059.  HB 1059, which passed the House last Monday on a 62-35 vote, provides school districts around the state an additional year of being able to collect at least 28 percent of their overall revenue through local levies (a reduction to 24 percent is meant to coincide with the passage of a comprehensive K-12 funding plan).  The bill is set for a hearing Monday in Senate Ways & Means, but Democrats on Friday asked the new Lieutenant Governor to agree to rule on procedural changes to allow them to ‘pull’ 1059 straight to the Floor for an up-or-down majority vote.  Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib gummed up the game plan a bit by ruling that a majority of all Senators, not just those present, would serve as the threshold for passage of 1059.  With many Senators having already headed home, Senate Ds had no choice but to hit the pause button.

We will see whether Senate Democrats try again on the “levy cliff” bill or some other piece of legislation in Week 4.  In the meantime, Republican Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) will quickly forward three names to Commissioners in five Eastern Washington counties that comprise the 7th LD (Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Spokane) – with a decision on the appointment expected to occur within days.  It is possible that Jacqueline Maycumber, a Legislative Assistant to sitting 7th District Rep. Shelly Short (R-Addy), may emerge for the Senate appointment.  On a more business-as-usual note, Senate Ways and Means will dig into the details of S-0245.8 (no formal bill number assigned yet) – the Senate GOP’s education proposal.  Here is a weekend Seattle Times article on the plan, which revolves around a property-tax-based, per-student-funding level of $12,500 that could rise for low-income and special-education pupils.  The proposal will be augmented by $1.4 billion in additional monies per biennium (specific funding sources still to come).

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/state-senate-gop-releases-sweeping-schools-funding-plan/?roi=echo3-41508635741-40180555-4af18bbc6513a2606d3173a2b536ed8b

At a WRPA level, we had a very solid Week 3.  Our background check bills have been scheduled for hearings, our “YAF” conversations are going well, and we worked with the City of Kirkland on a series of clarifying amendments to their narrowly-focused Metropolitan Park District (MPD) legislation. Following is an overview of where we stand on WRPA 2017 Legislative Agenda priority and support items, and then a listing of a few other bills of note.  If any of you have other bills you want listed, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at Doug@outcomesbylevy.onmicrosoft.com  A list of hearings for Week 4 is on Pgs. 5-6.

Top Priorities

Enhance WWRP Funding in 2015-17 Capital Budget

(Capital Budget) Last week, I met with House Capital Budget Vice-Chair Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds/21st Dist.).  Rep. Peterson is one of many House Democrats that is bullish on maintaining at least $100 million in funding for WWRP.  However, I’ve also learned that with the enormous K-12 funding pressures on the Capital Budget, natural resources allocation may sustain overall reductions of $100 million or more from what we saw in the Governor’s Budget.  While we ideally would love lawmakers to consider the $120 million level for WWRP, it increasingly appears that just keeping the $100 million funding level will be a big lift.

Maximize Competitive Grant Funding for the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) Program

(Capital Budget) I had very positive meetings last week on our $12 million funding request with both Rep. Peterson and the House Caucus staffer who plays a point role on Capital Budget matters.  I am also coordinating with the Washington Youth Soccer Foundation on a visit to Olympia on Monday, Feb. 20.  The WYSF will be seeking appointments with Capital Budget leads in both the Senate and House and pushing the $12 million funding recommendation.

Advocate for Key “Healthy & Active Communities” Funding within the State Budget Process

(Capital, Transportation, Operating Budgets) Key budgetary items WRPA will support include:

  • Public Health District and “Healthiest Next Generation” funding -- Operating Budget:  Nothing new to report.  HNG is not in the Governor’s Operating Budget and there is very little chance it will be in the Senate’s Operating Budget.  A House allocation is probably the only hope here.
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant, Safe Routes to Schools, and “Complete Streets” funding in the Transportation Budget:  The Governor’s 2017-19 Transportation Budget continues funding for these programs under allocation formulas in “Connecting Washington.” See below for an update on the tourism marketing bill which could impact up to $2 million in multi-modal funding.  Also of note, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens/44th Dist.) has introduced SB 5385, a carbon pollution tax bill that would direct 50 percent of the revenues from that tax into multi-modal investments.  Sen. Hobbs is bringing his bill forward as an alternative to the Governor’s carbon pollution tax proposal, which directs proceeds into K-12 funding and environmental programs within the Capital Budget.
  • Dedicated accounts and grant programs in the Capital Budget such as WWRP, YAF, the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA), the Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA), and the Boating Facilities Program (BFP):  Nothing new to report.  We will work to protect these accounts.  The BFP and NOVA funding levels have been bolstered by new gas tax revenues from Connecting Washington.

Allow cities/counties to utilize FBI fingerprint-based background checks to screen prospective employees working with youth, vulnerable adults; Make Language for MPD/Park Districts consistent

 (Policy Bill) SB 5399 prime-sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban (R-Pierce County/28th Dist.) and HB 1620 prime-sponsored by Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek/44th Dist.) are up for hearings Tuesday in the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee and the House Local Government Committee, respectively.  We will have a WRPA panel testifying in strong support of these priority bills.  To better ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults, we are promoting these bills to broaden existing statutory authority for cities and counties to use FBI fingerprint-based background checks under state law.  In pursuing this authority, we also are seeking to make the MPD/Park District language consistent with the authorizing language for cities and counties.  This legislation is designed to be permissive (not a mandate) and includes specific provisions indicating that local agencies may continue to utilize private vendors if they so desire. 

“Support/Oppose” Items

Protect Funding for Dedicated Accounts within the Capital Budget

(Capital Budget) WRPA will again be urging the Legislature to refrain from diverting funding from dedicated accounts in the Capital Budget that are designed specifically to address outdoor recreation activities.  See above under “Top Priorities.”

Protect Funding for Washington State Parks

(Operating Budget) Senate Ways & Means Committee Members will hear from State Parks and other natural resource agencies at a 3:30 p.m. Tuesday work session.  Among other things, State Parks has been asked to give a status update on the Discover Pass program as well as its ongoing maintenance backlog.  I’ll pass along additional information I received Sunday from Daniel Farber of State Parks.

Oppose Legislation to Prematurely Place Regulatory Burdens on “Crumb Rubber” Fields

(Policy Bill) We still have not seen a bill on the ‘crumb rubber’ issue.  As we’ve reported, WRPA puts a premium on safety for kids (and adults) who use our facilities.  However, WRPA, joined by a coalition of interests representing schools, Public Health, recyclers, and others, is prepared to oppose legislation that prematurely puts new regulatory hurdles on the use of crumb-rubber infill on synthetic playing fields.  While major federal and State of California studies continue, all major studies and analyses to date, including those done by states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, have shown no elevated health risk from crumb-rubber materials. 

Support Efforts to Address Mental Health, Homelessness, Affordable Housing

(Operating Budget, Capital Budget, Policy Bills) Our Agenda outlines support for a $200 million Housing Trust fund allocation in the Capital Budget; “1115 Medicaid Waiver” funding that allows some Medicaid dollars to be targeted to supportive housing services; extending and increasing the “Document Recording Fee” on housing transactions; and local-option funding tools for affordable housing.  Here is a rather lengthy listing of bills in play:

  • HB 1570, providing several local options to help communities invest in affordable housing:   The House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee plans to pass this bill Wednesday – likely with only Democratic votes.  1570, heard last Thursday, is prime-sponsored by Committee Vice-Chair Nicole Macri (D-Seattle/43rd Dist.).  The bill removes the sunset date on the Document Recording Fee and takes the total fee to $90.  For negotiating purposes, it is the most aggressive of the homelessness funding bills.  Realtors and rental-housing operators oppose it.
  • SB 5254, ensuring adequacy of buildable lands and providing funding for low-income housing and homelessness:  This bill forms another bookend for the negotiations over housing and homelessness bills and fees.  On the one hand, it extends the Document Recording Fee another 10 years and expands the document recording fees to birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates.  On the other hand, the bill has changes to “buildable lands” statutes that are anathema to cities and counties, and 5254 also restricts the authority of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) when it comes to population-growth targets in individual communities.  A representative of the Realtors and a representative of AWC are facilitating an upcoming meeting to discuss this bill and see if common ground is attainable.
  • SB 5252, reporting, performance, and accountability provisions for Document Recording Fees:  Look for this bill, up for a hearing Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Human Services, Mental Health, and Housing Committee, to be blended in to the “DRF” bill negotiations as a ‘gotta have’ accountability piece of the equation.
  • SB 5407, establishing a statewide prohibition on “Source of Income Discrimination”:  This bill, due for a hearing at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, would put in place a statewide prohibition that is similar to local ordinances passed by cities such as Seattle, Vancouver, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, and Kent.  Look for rental housing operators to oppose the statewide prohibition.
  • SB 5368, concerning Medicaid waivers:  This bill by Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville/2nd Dist.) is being heard Tuesday morning in Senate Health Care.  It does not appear to overturn the current “1115 Medicaid waiver” (Medicaid Transformation Demonstration) and the supportive housing funds imbedded in the waiver, but would restrict the Health Care Authority from pursuing future waivers without explicit legislative authorization.
  • HB 1044, stipulating that 25 percent of proceeds in any Housing Trust Fund cycle must be dedicated to homeownership projects:  This bill had a hearing last Thursday, and drew strong opposition from advocates seeking to build biennial funding in the HTF to $200 million, and to make progress on housing units devoted to lower-income renters, homeless families and youth. 
  • HB 1536, local-option funding tools to add affordable housing:  This bill prime-sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.) is meeting stiff opposition and likely will need to be trimmed down and reintroduced. It provides tools such as councilmanic sales tax authority, new Real Estate Excise Tax authority, the ability to flex up existing REET money, authority to impose “demolition fees” on housing tear-downs, etc.  Stay tuned for an update on this one.
  • SB 5182, “preservation tax exemption” for existing housing stock: This measure by Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn/47th Dist.) has had a hearing and remains in the Senate Human Services, Mental Health, and Housing Committee. The bill provides local governments with the option of providing local property tax exemptions to developers who preserve and upgrade existing housing stock to maintain affordability.

 

Re-Establishing a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program

(Policy Bill) Last week, SHB 1123 moved out of the House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee with amending language added by Chairwoman Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline/32nd Dist.).  The amendment fixes Section 9 of 1123, which in the underlying version of the bill would have re-directed rental car taxes that go into a multi-modal transportation account.  While that fix has been made, there is still controversy related to this bill, since the supporters of 1123 remain interested in a one-time re-direction of $2 million from the multi-modal account for a tourism marketing plan.  I testified in support of the legislation with the clarifying amendment, but suggested there should be another funding source identified for the $2 million marketing plan.

 

 “Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition – Fifth Annual Rally Day Feb. 15

(Budgetary, Policy Items) As previously reported, confirmed speakers include Governor Jay Inslee, newly-elected Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, and the operator of the “Wings over Washington” tourism program.  More speakers are being sought.  Olympia’s Paul Simmons will staff a WRPA booth at the Rally Day.

Other Bills

  • SSB 5138/PSHB 1456, authorizing agencies to list in their ballot titles a lower property-tax level for Metropolitan Park District (MPD) formation involving a specific facility:  A substitute version of 5138, prime-sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo (D-Bothell/1st Dist.), moved out of the Senate Local Government Committee last Thursday.  This coming Thursday, we expect House Local Government to advance a substitute version of 1456 prime-sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba (D-Kirkland/1st Dist.). Here is a link to the substitute version of 5138 with amending language we worked on:

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5138-S.pdf#page=1

I want to pass along our appreciation and thanks to Kirkland’s lobbyists and to Steve Burke, Executive Director of the William Shore Memorial Pool MPD in the Port Townsend area.

  • Private lands recreational immunity bills:  Hearings are scheduled this coming week on SB 5384/HB 1464, companion bills which provide private landowners with recreational immunity if they sign cooperative public-access agreements with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  We have typically supported these bills and will plan to do so again – but we will also guard against any amendment that would mark a step backward for current recreational immunity laws.
  • Discover Pass bills:  Of the Discover Pass bills in play, there are hearings scheduled in Week 4 on these:  HB 1177/SB 5305, on which State Parks is neutral, would provide a free Discover Pass to veterans who qualify for lifetime disability benefits; HB 1180, on which State Parks is also neutral, would provide a complimentary Discover Pass to all veterans with a 100 percent disability benefit; and HB 1247, which is also a “neutral” position bill for State Parks, authorizes a lifetime pass at no cost to disabled veterans who have a service-connected disability of at least 30 percent and reside in Washington or Oregon.
  • SB 5442, making technical changes to Boater Education Card laws and the use of boater education card fees:  The Senate Natural Resources & Parks Committee is holding a 1:30 p.m. Thursday hearing on this State Parks request bill.  Recreational boaters, and a Boating Safety Advisory Committee utilized by State Parks, support the legislation.
  • HB 1605, allowing police to impound vessels – as a last resort – if operators are impaired:  No hearing has been scheduled yet on this State Parks request bill.  The bill was vetted with the aforementioned Boating Safety Advisory Committee, law enforcement, and boaters.
  • SB 5303/HB 1429, enhancing funding for WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention programs:  Both the Senate Natural Resources & Parks and House Agriculture & Natural Resources committees held hearings on these companion bills last week.  While a mix of recreational, shellfish, and environmental interests support the bills, commercial vessel groups and Ports strongly oppose a $125 ballast-water fee imbedded in the legislation.
  • SB 5357, establishing a pilot program to license outdoor recreation learning programs:  The Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. Thursday hearing on this bill prime-sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-San Juan Islands/40th Dist.).  As previously reported, the legislation attempts to provide standardized licensing for some 40 outdoor learning programs that have been started in Washington.

2017 Session—Week 4 List of Hearings—Recommendations on Testify/Sign-In/Monitor in Italics

Monday, January 30, 2017

Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 5149, addressing paid family leave; and SB 5032, implementing family and medical leave insurance. Understanding there are cost implications with SB 5032/HB 1116, we are tracking these bills for now.  MONITOR.

House Public Safety, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on HB 1540, providing public notices of public health, safety, and welfare in a language other than English. This is the House version of SB 5046 which AWC, WSAC, and others opposed.  Doug Levy to testify OPPOSED.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance, 8 a.m. – Hearing on SB 5407, concerning the preservation of housing options for tenants.  The Low-Income Housing Alliance and several cities will testify in SUPPORT of this bill to prohibit “source of income discrimination” on a statewide basis.  MONITOR.

Senate Health Care, 10 a.m. – Hearing on SB 5368, requiring specific legislative authority for participation in future “Medicaid Waiver” demonstrations.  MONITOR.

House Judiciary, 10 a.m. - Hearing on HB 1454, prohibiting the use of eminent domain for economic development; and HB 1464, concerning the development of cooperative agreements to expand recreation access on privately owned lands.  Sign in SUPPORT of HB 1464; MONITOR 1454.

House Local Government, 10 a.m. – Hearing on HB 1620, concerning the authority of local government to use FBI-based fingerprint criminal history background checks. Doug Levy, Paul Simmons (Olympia MPD), and Tammy White (City of Kent) scheduled to testify in SUPPORT of this WRPA priority bill.

Senate Natural Resources & Parks, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 5342, concerning the distribution of monetary penalties paid to local courts and state agencies for Discover Pass fines; and SB 5384, concerning the development of cooperative agreements to expand recreation access on privately owned lands.  Sign in SUPPORT of SB 5384; MONITOR 5342.

Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 5399, concerning the use of FBI-based fingerprint background checks for persons who work with children, persons with developmental disabilities, and vulnerable adults. Doug Levy, Paul Simmons (Olympia MPD), and Tammy White (City of Kent) scheduled to testify in SUPPORT of this WRPA priority bill.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

House Judiciary, 8 a.m. – Hearing on HB 1574, concerning construction contracts.  This bill could be a major CONCERN as it could reprise some of the “Michael M. Johnson” lawsuit issues that were brought before the Legislature back in 2005.  Cities/counties likely to OPPOSE.  MONITOR for WRPA.

Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 5252, addressing the effectiveness of document recording fee surcharge funds that support homeless programs.  We can MONITOR for now – may be the type of accountability bill that is paired up with any removal of the sunset and/or increase of the fee amount.

Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports, 1:30 p.m. Hearing on SB 5312, prohibiting certain employers from including any question on an application about an applicant’s criminal record, inquiring either orally or in writing about an applicant‘s criminal records, or obtaining information from a criminal background check, until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified.  MONITOR.

House Health Care & Wellness, 1:30p.m. – Hearing on HB 1339, providing for restrictions on prescriptions for opioid drugs. This bill limits how many days a practitioner (7) or dentist (3) can prescribe opioids to a first-time patient for out-patient care.  MONITOR.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

House Public Safety, 8 a.m. – Possible Executive Session action on HB 1540, providing public notices of public health, safety, and welfare in a language other than English.

House Environment, 8 a.m. - Hearing on HB 1681, a Pierce County-promoted bill to restore state sales tax credits for large annexations; and HB 1740, using SEPA to encourage development and incentivize affordable housing.  MONITOR.

Senate Natural Resources & Parks, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing on SB 5442, concerning expanding the permitted uses of surplus funds from boater education card fees.  MONITOR.

House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs, 1:30 p.m. - Hearing on HB 1177, supporting access to state recreation lands by disabled veterans; HB 1180, enhancing recreational opportunities for veterans with disabilities; and HB 1247, concerning eligibility for lifetime veteran’s disability passes.  MONITOR.

 

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