Legislative Update - 02-26-2018



 Doug Levy – 2/26/18

Gun violence bills here.  Public records act legislation there.  And budgets everywhere.

That gives you a glimpse into key themes of Week 7, one that saw the Senate pass all three of its budgets off the Floor while the House geared up its three budgets for similar action in Week 8. Lawmakers also ran headlong into a final policy cutoff deadline, one where non-fiscal-related bills from the House had to have cleared a Senate committee by close-of-business Friday, and the same for Senate bills that had made it over to the House.  On Monday, fiscal bills – other than those dealing with budgets or directly tied to budgets – face their own end-of-the-day “opposite chamber” deadline.

It’s clear that a 2018 Legislative Session that has been active on steroids is veering toward a conclusion, with Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson (D-West Seattle/34th Dist.) making it abundantly clear to several of us last Wednesday that “conclusion” means March 8 (at latest) and there won’t be a Special Session of any sort.

While there won’t be a Special Session this year, there is no doubt that 2018 will see more gun violence legislation pass this Legislature than in any over the past decade-plus.  On Friday, the House passed by a 77-20 vote SSB 5553, which is which is designed to prevent suicides by allowing the entry of a voluntary firearms possession waiver into the Washington State Patrol data-base. House Members also passed – on a narrow 56-41 vote – legislation outlawing the manufacture, sale, and possession of “bump stocks.” Senate Democrats also continue to work on legislation to strengthen assault weapons background checks, but at this juncture, the bill is still struggling somewhat.  Here’s a link to television news media coverage of that legislative initiative at one end of the spectrum, and a bill to arm teachers at the other end:



Just as controversial as the arming-teachers bill was legislation on public records that was introduced, heard, voted on, and passed out of the Legislature with mach speed.   A bill (ESSB 6617) introduced and heard in a joint committee session on Thursday advanced to the Senate Floor (41-7 vote) and House Floor (83-14 vote) on Friday is on its way to the Governor’s desk.  It is not yet clear Governor Inslee will sign the measure, though the votes would appear to make the measure veto-proof.  Depending on one’s perspective, 6617 is either a keep-the-public-in-the-dark spring to exclude the Legislature from the Public Records Act, or a balanced measure that begins to make some legislative records available while exempting others for privacy reasons.  6617 express excludes the legislative branch from the PRA.  But, it also establishes a category of “legislative public records” including correspondence, amendments, and minutes of meetings; transcripts, records, and testimony from committee hearings; journals, Floor Amendments, and records of Floor debate; legislative correspondence with non-constituents; and information from legislators’ calendars.

In the meantime, legislators who sit on fiscal committees (Ways & Means, Appropriations, Transportation, House Capital Budget) had overflowing calendars last week.  The Senate passed a 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget (ESSB 6032) after dealing with 56 Committee Amendments Wednesday night and several more on the Floor Friday.  Supplemental Capital (ESSB 6095) and Transportation (ESSB 6106) budgets were not nearly as controversial.  The three budgets passed off the Floor on votes, respectively, of 25-23; 44-4; and 47-1.

The words “terrific,” “sensational,” and “superb” would all be apt ones for WRPA for Week 7.  Both chambers of the Legislature rolled out Capital Budgets with a historic level of funding for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA) grant program.  A rewritten and now-very-helpful budget proviso to study outdoor recreation needs was folded into the Senate-approved Capital Budget.  A boating safety funds bill is on the move. And a recreation pass simplification bill we thought might be “dead” has sprung back to life.

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) Both a 2017-19 Capital Budget and the bonds to finance most of it (SSB 6090; ESHB 1080) are passed and signed into law.

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

(Capital Budget) Can we say “wow” times $11.665 million?  That’s the investment level for the ALEA in both the Senate-approved Capital Budget (ESSB 6032) as well as the House version due to pass out of Committee on Monday (SHB 2395). As we’ve shared, while the 2017-19 Capital Budget did a great job overall of preserving dedicated accounts for outdoor recreation, the one “buzz-kill” exception was the ALEA. That account was funded at only $1 million because the $5.3 million proposed for the Account by Governor Inslee included $4.3 million worth of bond backfill which the Legislature redeployed elsewhere.  We worked diligently throughout Session in hopes of restoring some or all of the $5.3 million in funding the Governor had initially proposed.  We knew both the Senate and House would be meeting or exceeding the $5.3 million level – but we were not prepared for a historic, never-before-approached $11.665 million funding level in both budgets! Wahoo!! I testified with profuse thanks last Monday and Thursday as the Senate Ways & Means and House Capital Budget committees held public hearings on their bills.  Thanks too to Brian Adams of Skagit County (Senate), a lobbyist for Edmonds (Senate), and a lobbyist for Spokane (House) who joined me in thanking lawmakers for this tremendous effort.  The $11.665 million would fund 22 additional ALEA projects!  NOTE & UPDATE:  We learned late last week from the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) that two of the 22 projects – in Mercer Island ($380,000) and Snoqualmie ($560,000) failed to certify their match and thus ended up canceling out their grant eligibility. Even with the two projects dropping out, that will still be a $10.725 million investment in ALEA. Here’s the Senate Floor Amendment removing the two projects:


In the meantime, if your agency is one of the 20 that is benefitting from ALEA project funding as a result of the Senate/House budgets, please take the time to do a “thank you so much” e-mail to all of 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.).  Here, by the way, is the link to the 20 projects – go to Page 12 of 12: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/Budget/Detail/2018/scBal&Lists_0223.pdf

Project Funding for Dedicated Accounts, Take II – NOVA:  I also want to provide a short blurb to reassure folks regarding the Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA).  The Washington Off-Road Vehicle Association (WOHVA) is sending out an action alert about what they perceive as a nearly-$2 million “sweep” of the NOVA account.  In fact, RCO has let us know the change from $13.195 million to $11.3 million simply reflects an updated figure of accrued revenue in the Account.  The figure in the Senate-passed budget is no different than the figure in the Governor’s Budget, and we have little doubt the House budget will reflect this adjustment before it passes off the Floor.

Future Initiative:  Funding/Financing Options to Address Parks and Recreation M&O – a boost from a Senate-approved proviso!

(Tax Policy Bill) Our interim 2018 Work Group to begin evaluating this issue, and viable options to take into the 2019 Session, has now had its kickoff.  Thanks to WRPA Legislative Chair Paul Simmons for convening an initial meeting via conference call last Wednesday where we heard a lot of great ideas!  To add to our optimism about great ideas, I will also note a revised Capital Budget proviso that could give us another venue to discuss outdoor recreation funding needs.  Kudos to Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake/13th Dist.) who included this one in ESSB 6095: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Amendments/Senate/6095-S%20AMS%20WARN%20S5621.1.pdf

As you will note, this $100,000 study would identify “gaps” in outdoor recreation assets and investment strategies and options for addressing those gaps.  The study is not yet in the House Capital Budget.


Oppose Legislation to Prematurely Place Regulatory Burdens on “Crumb Rubber” Fields (Potential Policy Bill) We did not see a proposal during the 2018 Legislature.  Yahoo!

“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 meets each Thursday at 7 a.m.  The meeting this Thursday in the House Rules Room will likely be the final one of the 2018 Session. Feel free to join us if you’re in or near the State Capital.

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.  We have two pieces of good news to share on this one:  1) in both the Senate-approved and House Committee-approved Operating Budgets (ESSB 6032/SHB 2299), 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) a bill we thought was “dead” – SHB 2652 – has been designated “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB) and is thus very much alive!  The bill includes some ‘low-hanging-fruit’ provisions on how to make the Discover Pass system more uniform. Unfortunately, a bill to take some first small steps on pass simplification, SHB 2652, “died” on the House Floor Calendar. 

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.  With the exception of $3 million in new public health funding for Seattle/King County in the Operating Budgets – and of course the significant increase in ALEA funding in Capital -- we did not see any  new funding for these programs in the 2018 Supplemental Budgets.

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 and homelessness.  The updated list:

  • 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 had an impressive and unanimous-vote passage through the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee last Friday.  The bill has changed so that the additional DRF funding is less than what had initially been contemplated. Additionally, the $22 increase in the DRF is no longer a local option, but rather would be funneled through a state-distribution mechanism. That said, 1570 now has the support of an important pro-business organization, the Washington Association of Realtors.  The bill had a positive hearing in Senate Ways & Means on Saturday and we have every reason to believe it will clear the Committee on Monday.  We strongly support 1570.
  • SHB 1797, local option authority for cities and counties to fund housing, homeless, and behavioral health facilities:  The centerpiece of this bill – a 0.1 percent councilmanic sales tax authority for King County – is now almost surely dooming it.  Legislators are reluctant to approve the non-voted sales tax capacity, and at least one lawmaker – Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn/31st Dist.) – is insistent that he would offer a Floor Amendment and insist on a roll-call vote on it. Look for 1797 to “die,” while a separate bill to fund affordable and supportive housing (SHB 2437 – see below) moves to a House Floor vote. 
  • SHB 2437, providing a new infusion of affordable housing capital and operating dollars through a .025 percent state sales tax credit:  This bill has been included in the House Operating Budget and thus remains very much alive.  Amendments to 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, I would note that 2437 will include Floor Amendment language that requires King County to ensure “equitable distribution” of funds throughout the county and to file annual reports on the funding. We support 2437.
  • Promoting the use of surplus public property for affordable housing – 3SHB 2382: This bill has survived narrow vote after narrow vote and is now up for a Monday hearing and possible Committee vote in Senate Transportation. 2382 requires designated state agencies to remit 10 percent of net proceeds from state real property sales to the Housing Trust Fund through 2029.  It also requires all state agencies to notify state, local, federal and tribal entities of any surplus state land sales, with affordable housing as a use if mutually agreeable terms are reached.
  • Clarifying eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the aged, blind, or disabled assistance programs – SHB 2667:  This bill cleared Senate Human Services & Corrections on Friday and is now in Senate Rules.
  • 2SHB 1987, allowing affordable housing density bonuses for projects on religious organization properties:  Senate Ways & Means had a hearing Saturday on this bill by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland/48th Dist.). As amended, it requires that cities offer density-bonuses (matching what they would offer to other developers) to religious organizations doing affordable housing projects.
  • SHB 2538/SSB 6294, allowing local jurisdictions to fully waive impact fees for emergency homeless shelters:  We’re now getting to the part of Session where legislative leaders will need to decide which one of these bills they pass.  2538 passed out of Senate Local Government last Tuesday; two days later, the House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Relations Committee approved 6294.  The bills are in their respective Rules Committees.
  • Bills prohibiting housing operators from denying someone housing based solely on source of income – E2SHB 5407; E2SHB 2578:  It will be the House bill that moves forward in 2018.  While 5407 “died” in House Judiciary, the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee approved 2578 on a 4-2 vote last Tuesday.  One key compromise is the creation of a landlord mitigation program within the Department of Commerce to help landlords seek financial reimbursement for repairs of damages to qualifying rental units.  That program is expressly funded in the Senate budget but not yet in the House.

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

(Policy Bill) This WRPA-supported bill had a short-and-sweet hearing Saturday in the House Appropriations Committee and is scheduled to pass out of the Committee on Monday.  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 $1.5 million in funding is included in the Senate budget and while it is not yet in the House, Appropriations Chair Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane/3rd Dist.) all but guaranteed during a Wednesday night Committee meeting that the funding would be forthcoming.  This legislation re-establishes tourism marketing funds at the state level for the first time in a decade.

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 passed unanimously out of the Senate Local Government Committee last Tuesday and is now in Senate Rules.
  • 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.) unfortunately “died” in the Senate Rules Committee.
  • ESB 6140, promoting the efficient and effective management of state-owned lands: Last Wednesday, by a 10-3 vote, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee approved an amended version of this bill, sending it to the Capital Budget Committee.  6140 is scheduled to be heard in and passed out of House Capital Budget on Monday.  House AG/NR revised previously controversial provisions of 6140 directing the DNR to evaluate the potential leasing of lands to timber investment management organizations (“TIMOs”).  
  • HB 2829, de-annexing from a Park and Recreation District:  While this bill “died,” the prime sponsor of it, Rep. Carolyn Eslick (R-Sultan/39th Dist.), is very interested in our interim work on parks and recreation funding needs.  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 had a positive hearing in House Appropriations on Saturday and is due to move out of the Committee on Monday. 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 now-narrowly-crafted bill passed unanimously out of the House Local Government Committee last Wednesday and is now in the House Rules Committee.  As advocates for continued access to public waterways, and as one of the organizations that had some angst with initial versions of 6152, we credit prime sponsor Ann Rivers (R-La Center/18th Dist.) for making her bill very tight.  SSB 6152 applies only to the vacation of a county road that presents a potential public safety risk, terminates at a private road, and involves hazards to a mainline railroad bridge.  It is aimed at a particular site along the Lewis River in North Clark County.
  • E2SHB 2006, providing cities and counties more flexibility within existing resources:  This bill had a hearing Saturday in the Senate Ways & Means Committee and could well clear the Committee on Monday.  The bill removes supplanting-funds restrictions from the 0.1 percent mental health sales and use tax.  It also moves Veterans Assistance and Mental Health levies utilized by counties outside of the general levy for purposes of property tax “suppression.” 
  • ESSB 6143, “unit-priced contracting” authority for cities:  This bill passed out of the House Local Government Committee last Thursday, albeit on a split 4-2 vote (with one House Republican voting “without recommendation” on it).  We support this bill to give cities more contracting flexibility. FYI, 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:  As noted in our Week 6 report, this bill has “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. Pilot counties would have included Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Grays Harbor, Pierce and Lewis.
  • SHB 2737, studying the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of counties:  We thought this bill had “died” in the House Appropriations Committee, but an Operating Budget amendment approved last Wednesday night has brought it back to life.
  • SB 6382, establishing a Work Group on state and local property tax reform – SB 6382:  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 8 List of Hearings & “Executive Sessions” —

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


Monday, February 26, 2018

House Capital Budget, 9 a.m. – Hearing and possible Executive Session action on ESB 6140, promoting the efficient and effective management of state-managed lands.  Possible Executive Session action on SHB 2395, regarding the 2018 Supplemental Capital Budget.  MONITOR.

Senate Ways & Means, 10 a.m. – Hearing on E2SHB 1622 concerning the state building code council. Long list of bills for “Executive Session” action – To Be Announced. MONITOR.

House Appropriations, 11 a.m. – Possible Executive Session action on E4SSB 5251 tourism marketing; SB 5442 regarding the use of boating safety funds; 2SSB 6015 concerning actions for wrongful injury or death; and SSB 6340, providing a benefit increase to certain retirees of PERS 1. MONITOR.

Senate Transportation, 1:30 p.m. – Hearing and possible Executive Session action on 3SHB 2382, promoting the use of surplus public property for public benefit. MONITOR.

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