We are now more than halfway through this year’s scheduled legislative session, and have passed three major cutoff deadlines. Last Wednesday, March 13 was the “House of Origin” cutoff, which means that all bills (except those deemed budget-related and therefore exempt from cutoffs) had to be voted out of their original chamber—House or Senate—by 5:00 p.m.
The three cutoffs so far have significantly narrowed the number of bills still moving from over 2,100 to just 671. Lawmakers will now revert to committee hearings for the next several weeks as bills that survived cutoff move to the opposite chamber for consideration.
Key Bills Still Moving
The primary condo liability bill, Senator Jamie Pedersen’s ESB 5334, had a public hearing last Friday, March 15. The Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce signed in supporting the legislation along with several local jurisdictions and the Governor's office. Realtors and builders testified in general support. Sen. Pedersen’s bill is scheduled for a potential vote in an executive session on Friday, March 22, when it will hopefully be advanced from Committee. Another bill related to condo liability sponsored by Representative Tana Senn, SHB 1576, made it through the House and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on Tuesday, March 19.
Legislation that would preserve affordable housing by enabling cities to extend the multi-family tax exemption for 12 years, Senator Guy Palumbo’s SSB 5363, was voted off of the Senate floor, 39-10 on Tuesday, March 12. The Seattle Metro Chamber supported efforts to keep the bill moving ahead of deadlines, because without this legislation, communities across Washington could lose up to 2,000 affordable units in the next few years. SSB 5363 has been referred to the House Housing, Community Development & Veterans Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
Two pieces of legislation concerning non-compete contracts, Senator Marko Liias’s ESSB 5478 and Representative Derek Stanford’s ESHB 1450, made it through the House of Origin cutoff. The House version of the bill had a more spirited debate on the floor, but advanced with a 55-41 vote. Both versions of the bill passed with the same amendment, addressing concerns brought forward by the business community by modifying the definition of earnings and bringing the salary threshold down to $100,000 annually from approximately $180,000.
Last month the Chamber’s Executive Committee voted to endorse Initiative 1000, the Washington state diversity, equity and inclusion act, that would amend Washington state law to allow affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting. Since I-1000 is an initiative to the Legislature, it is not subject to cutoffs, so the legislation is still alive and could start moving at any time.
Bills That Failed to Pass Before Cutoff
While two condo liability bills are moving, the last bill related to condo liability sponsored by Senator Mike Padden, SB 5219, did not make it through the cut-off last week and died in Rules.
Legislation regarding independent contractors, SHB 1515, which would have created a workgroup to look at the classification of independent contractors and employees, died in Rules. However, we will continue to monitor this issue closely
We will likely begin to see budget debates take shape starting this week. Revenue forecasts are scheduled to be released Wednesday, March 20, and the official budgets should be released soon after.