The Legislative Session Begins January 9.

LEAD: Legislative Education, Advocacy & Direction

December 14, 2022

APA Washington’s Legislative Committee: 
2023 Legislative Session 

Participate in the Chapter’s Legislative Committee 

The 2023 Legislative Session, a long session of one hundred and five (105) days, begins January 9, 2023, and is scheduled to end on April 24, 2023. See an overview of the Washington State Legislature Process

The APA Washington Legislative Committee (LC) will be meeting via Zoom weekly on Fridays at noon, beginning January 6, to track legislative initiatives, review proposed changes to Washington law, and provide comments and testimony to the Legislature’s committee members during workshops and meetings. If you would like to participate in the work of the LC and join the Zoom meetings, please send an email with your current APA membership number to the Chapter Office to verify your membership to [email protected].

The Chapter’s contract lobbyist, Michael Shaw, participates in the weekly Zoom calls and presents proposed bills of interest to APA Washington, which are added to a bill tracking list. He also provides information on upcoming hearings as well as legislative deadlines and other relevant information, including positions that have been set forth by allied professional organizations and other interested parties on pending legislation.  

During the weekly meeting, LC members volunteer to review and draft comment letters on bills of interest. Among the items relied upon by the reviewers are the current and past APA Washington Legislative Agendas, National APA Policy Guides, and other resources and positions set forth by APA Washington on the Chapter website.

The LC promotes broad debate during bill review and operates on a consensus basis regarding the Chapter’s position, if any. It is the prerogative of the Chapter President or Vice President to send a comment letter, even if a consensus is not reached.  Letters are generally signed by the Chapter President. Positions are provided to members of the Legislature and their staff by the Chapter Lobbyist and designated Chapter members during committee hearings.

The Chapter’s Legislative Priorities for the 2023 Session call for the following actions:

  • Act Immediately on Climate Resilience and Sustainability
  • Eliminate Homelessness and Increase Affordable Housing Choices
  • Apply an Equity Lens to All GMA Goals
  • Provide Financial Support for Essential Planning
  • Transform the Transportation System
  • Ensure Infrastructure Investments Support Climate Resilience and Equity
  • Reform Annexation Policies and Procedures
  • Define Capital Facilities Necessary for Development and Clarify Comprehensive Plan Requirements
  • Ensure Coordinated Planning Between Special Purpose Districts and Local Governments
  • Maintain 10-year Update Cycle for Comprehensive Plans

A list of pre-filed bills for the 2023 Legislative Session includes several bills addressing issues of interest to APA Washington.  Bills continue to be added up to the start of the Session.  

APA WA Chapter Contract Lobbyist Michael Shaw’s Preview of the 2023 Legislative Session

As noted above, the 2023 legislative session starts on January 9th and will last for 105 days.   This is a budget year so the legislators (about 21 new house members) will need to pass a biennial operating, transportation, and capital budget by that 105th day or the Governor will call them into a “special” session, which runs in 30-day increments.  During the last few years, the Legislature has gotten its work done on time.

Prior to last November’s general election, the House Democrats controlled the chamber with a 58-41 majority while the Senate Democrats controlled the Senate with a 29-20 majority (actually, 28-21 since Democratic senator, Tim Sheldon, caucused with the Republicans).  After the recent election, the House and Senate Democrats added to their numbers – each picking up an extra member.   As of the writing of this article, the various caucuses have not made their committee assignments, however, the House has re-elected Laurie Jinkins as the House Speaker, and the Senate Democrats have re-elected Andy Billig as the Senate Majority Leader.  Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon is the new House Majority Leader, replacing the retiring Pat Sullivan.   

Due to numerous retirements, there are a lot of committee chair positions in play. For example, the House Finance Committee, House State Government Committee, and House Environment Committee will have new leadership.   In the Senate, the Senate Energy & Environment Committee chair is open given Sen. Reuven Carlyle’s retirement.  

Besides wrestling with the budgets, there are several issues that will cast large shadows on this session. The Legislature will need to address behavioral health, which seems to have been exacerbated by the COVID crisis. Criminal justice will again be a big issue as the Legislature deals with the ramifications of the State Supreme Court’s Blake decision, which invalidated the state’s felony drug possession law. As numerous sectors cannot find applicants, workforce retainment and recruitment will be a focus across the various committees, from K-12 to transportation.  Lastly, the session will see a wide variety of housing and land use bills.

Last session, the Legislature debated bills concerning climate change and the GMA (HB 1099), single-family zoning (“missing middle” bills, HB 1782 & SB 5670), and housing benefit districts (HB 1128, HB 1880, SB 5861). There is talk of a comprehensive transit-oriented development bill this session and numerous rental protection efforts. Housing, both the creation and retention of affordable stock, will be a focus. The Governor will be offering bills on many of these issues, and stakeholder groups will coalesce around each of these issues. Already, the APA Washington Chapter’s Legislative Committee has met with several entities on these issues, and that will be on-going throughout the session.

Transportation will continue to be a point of focus as folks jockey to get their “Move Ahead Washington” transportation projects moved forward in the building timeline. Last year’s transportation package is a 16-year spending plan, and many legislators want their projects done first rather than later in that span.

After two years of virtual legislative sessions, many of us are curious about how the Legislature will adapt to meeting in-person again. There are rumors about what areas of the capital campus will be open to the public and how the committees will integrate both Zoom-based testimonies with in-person testimony. There are many legislators who have only experienced the legislative process virtually and have not met in-person. We don’t know what will happen if COVID sweeps through the Legislature, but the Senate recently announced adding paid sick days and allowing up to three legislators per day to vote virtually if sick. Some legislators have already announced they will meet with lobbyists only via virtual means. This should be an interesting learning process for all of us.  

Those interested in following the session can do so online by using the resources found on the Washington State Legislative page where you can find bill information, legislator information, committee agendas, and floor agendas.  

Those interested in watching the committee hearings and floor action can do so by visiting the TVW page where you can watch the Legislative Review, which airs nightly, to keep up with the day’s events.  

American Planning Association, Washington Chapter

[email protected] | (206) 682-7436 |