March 15, 2016
LEAD: Legislative Education, Advocacy & Direction
2016 Edition 9

Legislature Brought Back for First Special Session

March 11 was the first day of the first special session of the 2016 Legislature. Failing to pass a supplemental capital or operating budget during the 60-day regular session, the Legislature was brought back by the Governor to finish its budget negotiations. As promised, the Governor vetoed 27 senate bills to motivate the Legislature to complete its work.

Concerning bills of interest to the Washington Chapter of APA, there is little to report - few bills passed the Legislature, and only one, HB 2815, involved planning in a meaningful way. That bill modified the eligibility requirements for certain counties with ferry terminals to form a regional transportation planning organization. The following failed to pass, but were of great concern to the Chapter:

HB 1802, Funding Long-Range Planning
This bill died early in session due to opposition from the building industry. It would have allowed permit fees to be used to fund planning. It was a Chapter priority and a priority of the Washington State Association of Counties.

HB 2945, GMA Task Force
This bill created a legislative task force to review the Growth Management Act (GMA), and the Chapter successfully advocated for an amendment to include a regional planner as a member of the task force. The bill failed to pass the House.

SB 6173, Greenhouse Gas Limits
This bill would have prohibited rules and policies that limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Chapter opposed the bill, which died in Senate Rules.

SB 6420, Land Capacity Review and Evaluation
This bill would have applied the Buildable Lands Program (BLP) to every local jurisdiction planning under GMA. In any action brought under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act to ensure compliance with the BLP, the prevailing party would be entitled to reasonable costs and attorneys' fees. The Chapter opposed this bill, and it failed to pass the Senate.

SB 6426, School Siting
This bill would allow the siting of schools outside the urban growth area, by deeming them essential public facilities. The Chapter opposed this and other similar bills. At this writing this bill, which had passed the Senate, has not passed the House. It could be resurrected and tied to the budget negotiations.

The Chapter was successful in working with its members to engage the Legislature. Chapter President Paula Reeves repeatedly made time to testify on the Chapter's behalf, and members of the Legislative Committee quickly reviewed these and many other bills. Thus, while there were no large policy initiatives passed during the regular session, no harm occurred.

If you have any questions about the Chapter's Legislative Committee (LC), please contact Yorik Stevens-Wajda or Esther Larsen, the LC Co-Chairs. A big thanks to Michael Shaw and all the members of the Legislative Committee for contributing their time, bill summaries, and discussion this regular session.

American Planning Association, Washington Chapter
[email protected]  206-682-7436