Legislative Update: Friday, January 29, 2016

Brad Boswell
Boswell Consulting

Today marks the end of week three, meaning we have completed one-third of the 2016 legislative session. There have been approximately 1,200 bills introduced so far and, with the February 5 cut-off date quickly approaching, anxiety is high to get priority bills heard before next Friday.

A bill designed to respond to the Supreme Court’s latest ruling in the McCleary school-funding case was altered Thursday by a Senate committee, angering the Senate Democrats. In August, the high court began issuing daily $100,000 sanctions over the Legislature’s repeated failure to submit a court-ordered plan to fully fund public schools by 2018. A school-funding plan that passed the Democrat-controlled House earlier this week would commit to fixing remaining funding problems by the end of the Legislature’s 2017 session. But the version of the plan now moving forward in the Republican-controlled Senate would instead commit to completing the work by 2018. Legislative leaders and Governor Inslee have said this year’s 60-day legislative session will not produce a full McCleary funding plan. It is expected to be approached in earnest in the 2017 session. 

R&D Tax Legislation: HB 2809/SB 6355;

  • Establishes a business and occupations tax credit for qualified research and development (R&D) expenditures, expiring January 1, 2026.
  • Establishes a state and local sales tax deferral program for high-technology R&D and pilot-scale manufacturing facilities, expiring January 1, 2026. 
  • Establishes performance metrics to measure success of the tax preferences.

The House Finance Committee held a hearing on Friday. Tom Ranken testified in support of the R&D tax legislation on behalf of the CleanTech Alliance at the hearing. The Senate Economic Development Committee will hold a hearing on this same legislation on Wednesday, February 3, at 8:00 am.

Carbon Policy: At this point, the only major carbon policy legislation that has moved out of committee is SB 6173 from the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. This legislation would restrict the Department of Ecology from implementing Governor Inslee’s carbon rule. This legislation may pass out of the Senate; however, it is not expected to move forward in the House. No other major carbon policy has moved out of any committee in either the House or the Senate.

House Bill 2346 related to solar incentives passed out of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee and moved to the House Appropriations Committee. This legislation would change and extend the state solar incentive program and is expected to have a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. The total cost of the program is expected to be the major issue as this legislation moves forward