Week 13 is now complete, and the 2021 Legislative Session is winding down. Last week, was filled with floor action in both chambers that often went late into the night. Sunday, April 11, was the final day for bills, other than those deemed necessary to implement the budget, to pass the opposite chamber from where they were introduced in order to keep advancing this session. After yesterday, there are no more cutoffs. The next and final landmark is the April 25, Sine Die date, when the Legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year. To view bills that have been signed by the Governor click here. To watch a summary of the highlights from last week click here.
Transportation package negotiations took another step forward last week, with Sen. Hobbs holding a work session on his proposed Forward Washington package. Rachel Smith, Seattle Metro Chamber’s President and CEO, testified in support of passing a comprehensive transportation plan this year. You can watch the work session here. Her testimony starts approximately 51 minutes into the work session. (Readers can take action on the Chamber’s website here to urge state legislators to pass a comprehensive transportation revenue package.)
There is now legislative language, SB 5482, which was heard in the Senate Transportation Committee today, Monday, April 12. There has been no additional action on Rep. Fey’s package, HB 1564, since its initial public hearing on April 1. The Senate also voted on Senator Carlyle’s cap and invest proposal, SB 5126, and Rep. Fitzgibbon’s low carbon fuel standard proposal, HB 1091.
This week the focus will be on budget negotiations and concurrence votes. Any piece of legislation that was amended in the opposite chamber must go back to the House of Origin, where the legislation was introduced, for concurrence before it can be signed into law. At this point, we expect the consensus operating budget to be released the week of April 19.
Economic Recovery and COVID Relief
The Washington equitable access to credit act, HB 1015, which would direct the Department of Commerce to create a program to award grants to qualified lending institutions to provide access to credit for historically underserved communities was on the floor calendar however, the Senate did not take action on the bill before the Sunday, April 11 cutoff. The Chamber supported this bill, but proponents, including the Chamber, had concerns about amended version that was before the Senate.
On Saturday, April 10, legislation concerning the multi-family tax exemption (MFTE), SB 5287, passed the House (81-16). Before the bill can be signed into law, it has to go back to the Senate for concurrence.
Legislation addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing certain tenant protections during and after public health emergencies, providing for legal representation in eviction cases, and authorizing landlord access to state rental assistance programs, SSB 5160, sponsored by Senator Kuderer, passed the House on Thursday, April 8 with a vote of 72-26.
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ryu, HB 1070, which would modify allowed uses of local tax revenue for affordable housing and related services to include the acquisition and construction of affordable housing and facilities, currently sits with the Governor, ready to be signed into law. The Chamber supports this legislation, which would make changes to support King County’s Health through Housing program.
The “just cause” bill sponsored by Representative Macri, HB 1236, passed the Senate on Thursday, April 8 with a vote of 28-21. The official title of the legislation is an act relating to protecting residential tenants from the beginning to end of their tenancies by penalizing the inclusion of unlawful lease provisions and limiting the reasons for eviction, refusal to continue, and termination.
Tax Increment Financing
Legislation authorizing local governments to designate tax increment financing areas and to use increased local property tax collections to fund public improvements, HB 1189, passed the Senate on Monday, April 5 with a near-unanimous (45-2) vote. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for concurrence. The Chamber supports this legislation and will be urging the House to take action so the bill can go to the governor’s desk for signature.
Employment and Workplace Legislation
Legislation expanding coverage of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program, SSB 5097, passed the House on Tuesday, April 6 with a 55-42 vote. This legislation expands the definition of family member, for purposes of the Paid Family and Medical Leave program.
On Monday, April 5, legislation establishing health emergency labor standards, SB 5115, passed the House 68-30. There were amendments adopted on the floor that addressed some of the concerns raised by employers.
Legislation concerning unemployment insurance claim adjudicators, SB 5193, passed the House 97-0.
There was action on several police accountability proposals last week. HB 1310, which is legislation concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers sponsored by Rep. Jesse Johnson, passed the Senate on Saturday, April 10 (26-23). Current law allows police to complete an arrest by any means necessary. HB 1310 sets the expectation that de-escalation should be an officer’s first approach and that deadly force should only be a truly necessary, last resort.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Jamie Pedersen, SB 5051, modifies the priorities and composition of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and expands the background investigation requirements for persons applying for peace officer, reserve officer, and corrections officer positions. This bill passed the House on Wednesday, April 7 with a vote of 54-43.
Also passing the House on April 7, was legislation concerning an officer's duty to intervene, SB 5066. This legislation requires a peace officer to intervene when the officer witnesses a fellow peace officer engaging in the use of excessive force.
HB 1054, sponsored by Representative Jesse Johnson, passed the Senate on Tuesday, April 6 with a 27-22 vote. The bill establishes requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers, prohibiting chokeholds and neck restraints, use of dogs during arrest, and tear gas and certain types of military equipment.