Washington State Legislature Update – Week 2

Washington State FlagSaturday, January 25, 2014 | Brad Boswell | The legislature has completed week two of this year’s 60-day session.  Legislators are currently focused on policy committee hearings and refining legislation for passage out of technical committees.  This is the beginning of the Legislative process and at this point every piece of Legislation is active and available for consideration.

The House Technology Committee chaired by Rep. Jeff Morris continues to work on the issues surrounding the solar incentive programs and third party leasing of solar systems in House Bill 2176.  Rep. Morris is also devoting a significant amount of time to natural gas infrastructure development with House Bill 2101, Creating the rural Washington natural gas access and investment account, and House Bill 2177, Concerning the expansion of natural gas infrastructure in rural or underserved areas.  All three are expected to move out of committee.

The Senate continues to focus on concerns about administrative tools to control green house gases and the potential for the Governor to move forward on a low carbon fuel standard.

Both the Senate and the House are expected to introduce bills that would extend the High Tech Tax Credits out to 2040.  Both versions are expected to have a broad bipartisan list of sponsors.  However, it is expected to face significant challenges with several legislators concerned about the budget impacts of these tax policies and there ability to fund education requirements place on the Legislature by the Supreme Court’s McCleary Decision.  [Note:  The Washington Clean Technology Alliance has voted to support extension of these bills.]

The Climate Legislative and Executive Work group came out with its report this week and, as expected, there were two versions:  One from the Governor and the two Democrats and one from the Republican members of the committee.  What will happen with this process and report is still unclear.