March 8, 2017
LEAD: Legislative Education, Advocacy & Direction
2017 Edition 7

Legislative and Advocacy Update - Washington Chapter and National APA

Status of Bills as Cut-Off Deadlines Continue

Friday, February 24th was the fiscal committee cut-off. Bills that did not pass out of their respective fiscal committees by Friday evening are technically dead. The exception to this rule is bills that are considered "necessary to implement the budget." During the last week, the focus has been on floor action which is wrapping up on Wednesday, March 8th.

After March 8th, the attention moves back to committee action, but it also shifts to the release of budgets. As we enter week 10, the pace of the legislative session picks up considerably with policy committees having only three weeks to work through the bills from the other chamber and only 48 days left of regular session. Due to the March 8th cutoff, a lot of bills will die as there are a lot of bills still to be voted upon and only a few days left to do so.

Regarding bills of interest to APA, the following are still alive:

These two school siting bills are works in progress. The Senate bill is more expansive than the House version. The coalition of local government, environmental lobbyists and BIAW oppose unfettered siting of schools that serve primarily urban students outside the urban growth area. Whether agreement can be reached by 5pm on March 8th is unknown. To date, APA Washington has maintained its position that schools for urban students should be in the urban area. A school siting subcommittee continues to review proposed legislation and is working on a proposal to refine the chapter's position on school siting.

  • HB 1017 - School siting. Directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Commerce to adopt rules regarding population projections, acreage guidelines for new schools, and school design and siting standards. Permits certain counties to allow for the siting of up to three schools in rural areas, where certain conditions are met. Requires, in counties that choose to site schools pursuant to the act, school districts to participate in the county's periodic Growth Management Act updates.
  • SB 5615 - School siting. Allows school projects to be sited outside urban growth areas if certain requirements are met. A county may designate public school projects as an essential public facility. Requires school districts to prepare a determination of need before submitting an application for school projects. Mandates counties required to plan or choosing to plan under the Growth Management Act to amend their process for siting schools outside urban growth areas.

Other bills that are moving include the following:  

  • SB 5652 - Boundary review board action. When reaching a decision, a board must consider the logical and reasonable nature of annexation boundaries to ensure that they do not include unincorporated islands, peninsulas, or other jurisdictional irregularities. When deciding on a proposed annexation boundary, a board must attempt to achieve equity of impacts on jurisdictional revenues and expenses. The bill was amended on the Senate floor, and is now in the House. The legislative committee has noted some concerns with this bill.
  • SB 5445 - Eminent domain. This bill passed the Senate, and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee where the House version, HB 1454, died.
  • HB 1225 - Mineral resources. This bill requires planning for the availability of mineral resources (e.g. gravel) under the GMA.  It is on the House floor calendar. The legislative committee recommends support for this bill except that the bill should be amended to remove a provision for overlapping mineral and agricultural resource designations.
  • HB 1504/SB 5517 - Resource lands adjacent to railroads. These bills allow GMA planning jurisdictions to adopt development regulations allowing resource lands adjacent to railroads to be developed for freight rail dependent uses. The senate version passed the Senate and the House version is on the House floor calendar. The legislative committee recommends opposing this bill due to a lack of clarity and threats to scarce resource lands.
  • SB 5239 - Water resources. This is the only Hirst/water availability bill that has passed its chamber of origin. This bill places the responsibility for determining water availability on the Department of Ecology, basically, reversing the Hirst decision. APA Washington has indicated opposition to this bill. A water resources subcommittee continues to review proposed legislation and continues to refine the chapter's position on legislation addressing the Whatcom County vs. Hirst Supreme Court decision.

Fiscal Forecast and Budget 

The next fiscal forecast is mid-March and the expectation is that the Senate will release its budget proposal around March 20th. The Senate will most likely release a budget that does not include any new revenue sources, which means there may be significant cuts to local government programs and shared revenues. This is not unexpected - most assumed that Senate Republicans would issue, as part of their negotiation positioning, a no-new-taxes budget. The extent that the House will push back on those local government cuts is unknown and leaves local governments in a precarious position.

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