February 23, 2017
LEAD: Legislative Education, Advocacy & Direction
2017 Edition 6

Legislative and Advocacy Update - Washington Chapter and National APA

Update from Olympia

February 17th was the deadline to get bills out of the policy committees, and February 24th is the deadline to get those bills with fiscal impacts out of the fiscal committees. That latter deadline comes with the caveat that bills necessary to implement the budgets (NTIB) are exempt from the deadlines. For example, bills that are listed in the budgets because they need to be paid for fall into that NTIB category. Now that the first bill cutoff has arrived, it is time to take account of what is still viable. Here are a few of the key planning bills that survived the February 17th deadline in the Washington Legislature:

School Siting

HB 1017 (McCaslin) - This bill was significantly amended and passed out of the House Environment Committee and now resides in the House Rules Committee. As amended, OSPI is directed to adopt rules for school siting. A GMA planning county may allow up to three school sites to be sited in rural areas following a determination by the county that no alternative sites are both available and suitable and that new or upgraded infrastructure necessary for the school is provided for by the school district. In counties chooses to site under this bill, each school district must participate in the county's periodic GMA updates.

SB 5615 (Conway) - This bill passed out of the Senate Early Learning & Education Committee and resides in the Senate Rules Committee. This bill provides that counties can designate public school projects as essential public facilities and sets forth criteria for approving school projects outside of the urban growth area. It applies to all GMA planning counties and requires them to amend their process for siting schools outside the UGA. GMA hearing boards are not authorized to hear noncompliance petitions for school sittings outside the UGA. Only state courts can hear challenges arising from the siting.

Eminent Domain

SB 5445 (Padden) - This bill currently sits in the Senate Rules Committee. The House version failed to survive the cutoff. This bill prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes.

GMA and Rail Dependent Uses

HB 1504 (Pike). Amended in the House Environment Committee, this bill creates a definition of "Freight rail dependent uses" that includes buildings and infrastructure that are used in the fabrication, processing, storage and transport of goods where the use is dependent on an adjacent short line railroad. The bill amends the GMA to allow GMA planning jurisdictions to assure agricultural, forest and mineral resources lands adjacent to short line railroads may be developed for freight rail dependent uses.

SB 5517 (Wilson). The companion bill to HB 1504. This bill passed without amendment and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.


HB 1570 (Macri). Amended in the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee, it is currently in the House Appropriations Committee. The differences between the original bill and the amended bill include:

  • Eliminates the $50 increase in the local Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge, making the permanent surcharge $40.
  • Allows counties and/or cities to charge and retain an additional surcharge, up to $50.
  • Requires the Office of Financial Management to secure an independent expenditure review of state local homeless assistance and housing surcharge funds received and deposited into the Home Security Fund Account on a biennial basis.
  • Eliminates the county annual report deadline.
  • Makes changes to the socioeconomic factors that the Washington State Institute for Public Policy must consider when completing the statewide homeless study.
  • Adds Native Americans as a group disproportionately impacted by homelessness.
  • Eliminates the definition and references to "landlord liaison program."

SB 5254 (Fain). Amended in the Senate Local Government Committee, the bill was referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. This bill ties the buildable lands issue with the homeless housing surcharge issue of HB 1570. The amendment did the following:

  • Removes a new provision requiring counties and cities to evaluate the adequacy of land within UGAs suitable for new or expanded public schools and industrial uses by port districts.
  • Restores a provision allowing county auditors to retain 2% of the local homeless housing and assistance surcharge.
  • Restores an exemption from the local homeless housing and assistance surcharge for documents recording a birth, marriage, divorce, or death.
  • Adds an exemption from the local homeless housing and assistance surcharge for documents recording a water-sewer district lien for nonpayment for water-sewer services.

Roadmap to Washington's Future Project

Joe Tovar, Project Co-Lead of the Roadmap to Washington's Future Project, presented to the Chapter's Legislative Committee on the work being conducted by the William D. Ruckelshaus Center (Center) to assess Washington's framework for managing growth, including a process to articulate a statewide vision and collaboratively map a path to that future. The multi-year project is currently in Phase I with the Center conducting a Preliminary Assessment consisting of a series of informal conversations with key individuals, groups, and organizations involved in various growth management efforts. The Washington Chapter of APA is among the 24 organizational project leaders. An outline of the work to date, plans for the ongoing project, and a schedule of the phases is set forth in A Roadmap to Washington's Future.

National APA Policy and Advocacy News

The 2017 Legislative Priorities adopted by the American Planning Association are set forth as A Platform for Stronger and More Just Communities Through Planning and supported by the APA belief in creating stronger and more just communities through access to opportunity and strategic investments in innovation and broadly shared prosperity. APA calls on Congress to:

  • Invest in the nation's critical infrastructure
  • Advance policies that promote social equity, inclusive communities, and expanded access to economic and social opportunities for all
  • Provide high-quality federal data that supports effective local planning and decision-making

To communicate the priorities to your legislators, visit APA's Legislative Action Center to send a pre-drafted letter based on the letter sent by APA President Bowen to Capitol Hill.

American Planning Association, Washington Chapter
[email protected]  206-682-7436  www.washington-apa.org
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