Olympia Legislative Report, March 1, 2013

Washington Clean Tech Alliance
Prepared by: Boswell Consulting

The 2013 Legislative Session has moved out of policy committee action and focused this week on the House and Senate fiscal committees on Ways and Means and Transportation. Any bills with a budget impact had to have been voted out of the fiscal committees by this Friday or they are considered dead. The following are two that are expected to continue to move through the process.

HB 1693 (providing tax relief for new businesses in high growth business sectors) had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee on the 26th, where executive action was taken and the substitute bill was passed on to the House Appropriations Committee. House Appropriations heard the bill on Friday and it is expected to pass out of committee. This legislation would provide B&O tax relief for three years for start up businesses in the following sectors:

• Computers, mobile devices, and related peripherals;
• Software and interactive gaming development;
• Biotechnology and biotechnology products;
• Electronic medical or navigation instruments;
• Pharmaceuticals;
• Environmental technology and solar energy system components;
• Aerospace products;
• Semiconductor materials and other electronic components;
• Internet-based data storage and search technologies; and
• Industrial machinery used in research, development, design, engineering,
• Manufacture, or production of any of the above.
HB 1301 (creating clean energy jobs in Washington state through renewable energy incentives) passed out of the House Finance Committee this week and is expected to continue through the House. The following is a brief outline of the legislation:
• Streamlines reporting requirements for the existing Renewable Energy Investment Cost Recovery Incentive Program and closes the door to new entrants after June 30, 2013.
• Changes eligibility for the renewable Energy Investment Cost Recovery Incentive Program as of July 1, 2013, and requires the Housing Finance Commission to provide eligible participants a voucher entitling the meter holder of a customer-generated renewable electricity system to 10 years of incentive payments from the utility serving the system.
• Establishes a competitive pool within the Sustainable Energy Trust, administered by the Housing Finance Commission, to award vouchers to projects with the greatest demonstrable impact on in-state job growth, use of components manufactured within the state, cost-effectiveness, and leveraging of non-state funds, with a preference for projects sponsored by nonprofit entities or involving a large number of participants.
• Requires annual reports to the Legislature, measuring the programs’ effectiveness based on objective benchmarks.

There are a host of bills still alive dealing with Initiative 937 and the renewable portfolio standards. At this point most of the activity is in the Senate and it is unclear which bills will ultimately pass over from the Senate. Both the House and the Governor have made clear that the most controversial bills that would weaken the renewable portfolio standards are not going to pass.