Week 14 Legislative Update: Last Days of Session

By: Boswell Consulting and Brooke Davies Consulting Posted: 04/19/2021

Concurrence Votes and Budget Negotiations Continue as Legislators Head Toward Sine Die

Week 14 is now complete, and, today, Monday, April 19 marks the 99th day of the 2021, 105-day legislative session. Last week, was filled with concurrence votes, bill signings, budget negotiations, and a few committee hearings. 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 continued to move forward last week but hope for a comprehensive transportation funding package is dimming. On Tuesday, April 13, Senator Hobbs, Chair of the Transportation Committee, held a public hearing on all three of his bills related to a transportation package: SB 5481 - Authorizing bonds for transportation funding, SB 5482 - Concerning additive transportation funding and appropriations, and SB 5483 - Concerning transportation funding. On Thursday, April 15, the Senate Transportation Committee took executive action on all three bills, and they are now in Senate Rules. 

There was movement last week on another bill linked to transportation, Senator Reuven Carlyle’s Cap and Invest proposal, SB 5216, The bill was heard and passed out of the House Environment and Energy Committee. The bill is scheduled to be heard and passed out of the House Appropriations Committee this week. 

Last week, the Senate passed  SB 5476 to address the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of State v. Blake. In this case, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the state statute that made possession of controlled substances a class C felony, removing any state criminal penalties for possession. The original bill removed any criminal penalty for possession, however there were amendments adopted on the floor that would make knowing possession of controlled substances a gross misdemeanor and mandate that jurisdictions provide treatment options. The bill has now been sent to the House for further consideration. 

The final week of session will include more concurrence votes, conference committees, and the release of the final budget. The session is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, April 25. 

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 April 11 cutoff. Although the bill is referenced in the House budget it is unlikely to move forward this session. The Chamber supported this bill.

The Chamber also wrote to the Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations Committees as they finalize budgets; encouraging them to fund budget requests for key programs supporting equitable economic recovery at the higher levels approved during the legislative process:   

  • Associate Development Organization/Economic Development Council funding: We support the Senate’s $8.6M funding level, which would restore this funding to pre-Great Recession levels.
  • Commerce’s Small Business Equity programs: We support the Senate’s $6.6M funding level, which would include $492K for Equity Development staff
  • Governor’s Economic Development Strategic Reserve Fund: We support the House’s $6.9M funding level
  • Microenterprise funding: We support the Senate’s $1.4M funding level
  • Additional Short-Term Emergency Small Business Grants: We support the House’s $250M appropriation and ask legislators to consider the Washington Small Business Recovery Working Group’s recommendations to prioritize building out a sustained, well-coordinated and effective delivery system to support small business
  • Manufacturing/SHB 1170: We support the House’s $2.7M appropriation, which references this bill
  • Tourism: We support the Senate’s $12M funding level  

Housing Affordability

The Senate concurred on the House amendments to SB 5287 on Wednesday, April 14 (41-7). This legislation concerns the multi-family tax exemption (MFTE). The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.  

Concerning landlord-tenant relations, SSB 5160, sponsored by Senator Kuderer, now awaits concurrence from the Senate on the House amendments before final passage. 

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Ryu, HB 1070, which modifies allowed uses of local tax revenue for affordable housing and related services to include the acquisition and construction of affordable housing and facilities, was signed by the Governor on Wednesday, April 14. The Chamber supports this legislation, which would make changes to support King County’s Health through Housing program.

The “just cause” bill sponsored by Rep. Macri, HB 1236, received concurrence from the House on Tuesday, April 13, and was signed by the Speaker of the House the following day.  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, is still waiting for a concurrence vote in the House. The Chamber supports this legislation.

Employment and Workplace Legislation

After passing the House two weeks ago, legislation expanding coverage of the paid family leave program, SSB 5097, will now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote. This legislation expands the definition of family member, for purposes of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. 

On Wednesday, April 14, the Senate concurred on the House’s version of SB 5115, establishing health emergency labor standards, (32-16). The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. 

Legislation concerning unemployment insurance claim adjudicators, SB 5193, is now awaiting concurrence from the Senate after passing the House.

Police Reform

HB 1310, which is legislation concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers sponsored by Rep. Jesse Johnson, returned to the House last week for a concurrence vote.  The House refused amendments made by the Senate, and a conference committee will now convene.

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. After passing the House on April 7, the Senate must vote on concurrence before final passage.

Sponsored by Senator Dhingra, SB 5066, concerning an officer’s duty to intervene, passed the House and now awaits a concurrence vote from the Senate.   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, 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. The House refused amendments made by the Senate, and a conference committee will now convene.