January 24, 2017
LEAD: Legislative Education, Advocacy & Direction
2017 Edition 3

News from Olympia as Legislature moves into Week Three of 2017 Session  

The first week of Session (January 9-13) was a settling in period with about 70-some office moves, introductory committee work sessions and the inaugural ball. It seems like a slow start with fewer bills than expected being filed. Several committee hearings were canceled.

There was one substantive committee hearing of note during the first week: The House Environment Committee spent two hours on HB 1017, which concerned school siting. This bill was opposed by the Washington Chapter of the APA, and many expect this issue to evolve throughout the session with more bills being introduced. The Legislative Committee continues to monitor this school siting bill, which has not yet received a committee vote, nor has a Senate version been introduced. 

HB 1017 does the following:

  • Requires schools and school facilities to be permitted uses under the Growth Management Act (GMA) in all land use zones in all jurisdictions, including rural areas. 
  • Exempts the siting of schools from certain GMA requirements and provides criteria for siting schools and school facilities in rural areas. 
  • Provides that the GMA does not authorize the Growth Management Hearings Board to hear petitions alleging noncompliance for siting a school or school facility in accordance with the bill.

The second week of Session (January 17-20) was similarly light regarding bill hearings, and the Chapter's bill tracking list is shorter than normal. However, there were several bills addressing the State Environmental Policy Act heard on Tuesday, January 17 in the House Environment Committee:

  • HB 1009 - Clarifying that the authority to mitigate environmental impacts under the state environmental policy act applies only to significant adverse environmental impacts.
  • HB 1013 - Reducing overlap between the state environmental policy act and other laws.
  • HB 1086 - Promoting the completion of environmental impact statements within two years.

In addition, because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on January 16, dozens of groups descended on the capitol to advocate priorities. Encouraging the legislature to address McCleary, teachers rallied in Olympia to push lawmakers to fully fund public education.  Hundreds of teachers, students and parents attended the Rally for Student Civil Rights and Amply Funded Public Schools. After the rally, teams hand-delivered poster-size copies of the Student Bill of Rights to all 147 legislators. There are rumors that the Senate Republicans will unveil their basic education funding plan in this coming week. 

As week three (January 23-27) of the 2017 Legislative Session lurches forward, many of the staff and legislators have been fighting the flu and fewer bills have been introduced than usual. Hence, many of the lobbyists have commented on a perceived slow start - the pace may pick up this week.

On Monday, January 23, the House Environment Committee is scheduled to hear HB 1144 - amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change. Later, on Tuesday, January 24, the Senate Local Government Committee will hear SB 5212 - concerning the scope of land use control ordinances for purposes of vesting, and on Thursday, January 26 will hear SB 5254 - ensuring adequacy of buildable lands and zoning in urban growth areas and providing funding for low-income housing and homelessness programs. Legislative Committee members are working to review and suggest a chapter response to each of these as well as a number of other bills of interest, many of which have yet to be scheduled for hearings (e.g. HB 1224, 1225, 1268, 1324, 1350, 1392 / 5265, 5239).

National APA Policy & Advocacy News

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