2019 WA Legislative Final Session Report

April 30, 2019: End of Session Final Session Report

The 2019 Legislative Session officially adjourned on Sunday, April 28th, the first time the Legislature has ended on time for a budget-writing session in ten years. This 105-day biennial budget-writing session was marked by a slate of newly elected legislators entering the mix and significantly strengthened Democrat majority in both chambers.

The legislature saw considerable activity and the passage of many pieces of legislation this year in the housing, energy and environment, and mental health policy areas. Also notable was the passage of I-1000, a controversial initiative to the legislature that overturns a voter-approved restriction on affirmative action.

Perhaps most significant this year, however, was the budget. Following a larger than anticipated revenue forecast for the 2019-21 budget, the legislature proceeded to roll out $52.4 billion in operating budget spending (close to an $8 billion increase from the previous biennium) and an unprecedented package of tax bills raising $850 million in new tax revenue. The largest expenditures in the operating budget included: $3.9 billion to maintain current levels of K-12 funding, $451 million to pay for state employee salary increases and health care benefits, $280 million for behavioral health, and $45.5 million to help prevent and fight forest fires. A broad slate of new taxes were passed to fill the spending gap which included a graduated real estate excise (REET) tax (ESSB 5998), increased business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for large banks (SHB 2167) and travel agents (ESSB 6004), a new tax on vapor products (E2SHB 1873), and elimination of the automatic sales tax exemption for non-residents (ESSB 5997).

On top of the budget spending, the Democrats also passed E2SHB 2158, which generates nearly $1 billion over four years by imposing a B&O surcharge on professional services and “advanced computing” businesses to fund various higher education and career connected learning programs. It is notable, however, that no capital gains tax passed this year despite being included in both the House and the Governor’s budget proposals and being proposed separately from the budget in the Senate.

In addition to the operating budget, lawmakers also passed new state capital and transportation budgets in the last 24 hours of session. Also in the final hours, the Legislature passed a controversial bill (ESSB 5313) to lift the local levy lid for school funding.

Finally, this was Speaker Frank Chopp last session as the Speaker of the House. Chopp has been in this role for 20 years, making him the longest serving speaker in Washington State. The House took time on the floor to honor Speaker Chopp on the last day of session. House Democrats will select a new speaker on July 31st. It is unclear at this time who that person will be, but many believe they will select the first female speaker.

This session witnessed the passage of a number of environmental bills including several of the proposals from Governor Inslee’s climate package published in December. These are groundbreaking policies that have the potential to significantly alter our state’s energy landscape and propel Washington as a leader in clean energy and technology.

The most significant of these policies is E2SSB 5116, known as the 100% Clean legislation. It is comprehensive legislation that sets standards for utilities to eliminate coal-fired electricity from their portfolios by the year 2025, achieve a carbon neutral electricity supply by 2030, and service customers with 100% carbon free electricity by 2045, or face penalties. Similar legislation was originally introduced at the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, which led to significant industry and stakeholder engagement during the interim and a well-worked bill that utilities were generally supportive of this year. It had an overall smooth journey through the legislature and ultimately passed in accordance with Governor Inslee’s announcement of his presidential campaign in early April.

Part of Governor Inslee’s proposed climate package this year was clean buildings legislation to set new standards for energy efficiency in buildings. The bill, ESHB 1257, sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio (D-22), faced challenges from the building and development trades and lost momentum midway through session. It was able to ultimately regain enough drive to make it across the finish line in the last several weeks, however the final version is much narrower than originally proposed; most notably applying now only to commercial buildings, and allowing but not requiring natural gas conservation and renewable standards.

Another important piece of legislation this session was Rep. Jake Fey’s (D-27) green transportation package, E2SHB 2042. The bill raises registration fees on electric vehicles and hybrids to pay for EV and alternative fuel vehicle incentives, amongst other things. The bill received bipartisan support and passed the legislature in the final hours of session.

Two bills regarding solar energy were also successful this session. The passage of E2SSB 5223 concerning net metering is a significant victory for the solar industry, as it will allow many more customers to receive full utility compensation for the energy they generate through their panels. The other bill, EHB 1126, will allow utilities to begin planning for their distributed energy resource (DER) futures.

Finally, the Clean Energy Transition was funded in the final Capital budget at $32.6 million for the biennium. This includes funding for the following:

  • Grid Modernization:  $6,107,000 (including the Northwest Seaport Alliance shore power electrification:  $4,400,000)
  • Research, Development, & Deployment:  $8,100,000 (including Bioenergy:  $1,000,000)
  • Loan Programs:  $3,00,000
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory grid scale storage facility:  $8,300,000
  • Grays Harbor wave energy:  $593,000
  • Guemes Ferry electrification:  $1,500,000

Bill Status

Passed Bills

Bill # Title Status Sponsor Position
SHB 1102
(SSB 5134)
Concerning the capital budget. Del to Gov Tharinger  
ESHB 1109
(SB 5153)
Making 2019-2021 biennium operating appropriations and 2017-2019 biennium second supplemental operating appropriations. S Pres Signed Ormsby  
EHB 1126 Enabling electric utilities to prepare for the distributed energy future. Del to Gov Morris  
E3SHB 1257
(2SSB 5293)
Concerning energy efficiency. Del to Gov Doglio  
E2SHB 2042 Advancing green transportation adoption. S Pres Signed Fey  
2SHB 2157 Updating the Washington tax structure to address the needs of Washingtonians. H Rules C Tarleton  
E2SSB 5116
(2SHB 1211)
Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. Del to Gov Carlyle  
E2SSB 5223
(HB 1862)
Concerning net metering. Del to Gov Palumbo  
SSB 5588 Authorizing the production, distribution, and sale of renewable hydrogen. C 51 L 19 Hawkins  
ESSB 6004 Concerning the taxation of travel agents and tour operators. Del to Gov Rolfes  

Dead Bills

Bill # Title Status Sponsor Position
E2SHB 1110
(SB 5412)
Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. H Rules 3C Fitzgibbon  
SHB 1113 Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science and with the United States’ commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. H Approps Slatter  
HB 1127 Concerning the electrification of transportation. H Env & Energy Morris  
HB 1128 Authorizing an alternative form of regulation of electrical and natural gas companies. H Env & Energy Morris  
HB 1129 Concerning customer-sited electricity generation. H Env & Energy Morris  
2SHB 1211
(E2SSB 5116)
Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. H Approps Tarleton  
SHB 1226 Encouraging investment in and reducing the costs of transitioning to the clean energy future. H Finance DeBolt  
HB 1397 Encouraging the use of electric or hybrid-electric aircraft for regional air travel. H Rules 3C Slatter  
SHB 1642 Allowing the energy savings associated with on-bill repayment programs to count toward a qualifying utility’s energy conservation targets under the energy independence act. H Rules C Doglio  
HB 1664
(2SSB 5336)
Advancing electric transportation. H Env & Energy Slatter  
SHB 1796
(SB 5730)
Concerning commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience. H Rules C Doglio  
SHB 1832 Concerning the electrification of the Washington public vehicle fleet. H Trans Macri  
HB 1862
(E2SSB 5223)
Concerning net metering. H Env & Energy Mead  
HB 1984 Ensuring that attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state do not make Washington’s agricultural products and food processing businesses economically uncompetitive, thereby shifting emissions to jurisdictions without similar greenhouse gas policies. H Env & Energy Maycumber  
HB 2079
(SSB 5936)
Concerning use of industrial waste through industrial symbioses. H Env & Energy Doglio  
SHB 2156 Investing in quality prekindergarten, K-12, and postsecondary opportunities throughout Washington with excise taxes on sales and extraordinary profits of high valued assets. H Rules R Jinkins  
SB 5108
(HB 1070)
Concerning the tax treatment of renewable natural gas. S Environment, E King  
2SSB 5115
(2SHB 1444)
Concerning appliance efficiency standards. S Rules X Carlyle  
SB 5118 Concerning the right to consume self-generated electricity. S Rules X Palumbo  
SSB 5134
(SHB 1102)
Concerning the capital budget. S Rules 2 Frockt  
SB 5153
(ESHB 1109)
Making 2019-2021 biennium operating appropriations. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
2SSB 5293
(E3SHB 1257)
Concerning energy efficiency. S Rules X Carlyle  
2SSB 5336
(HB 1664)
Advancing electric transportation. S Ways & Means Palumbo  
SB 5412
(E2SHB 1110)
Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Environment, E Salda?a  
SB 5629 Promoting small modular reactors in Washington. S Environment, E Brown  
SB 5730
(SHB 1796)
Concerning commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience. S Environment, E Palumbo  
SB 5811
(HB 1999)
Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. S Rules 3 Nguyen  
SSB 5936
(HB 2079)
Concerning use of industrial waste through industrial symbioses. S Rules 3 Brown  
SB 5980 Relating to greenhouse gas emissions. S Environment, E Honeyford  
SB 5981 Implementing a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. S Environment, E Carlyle  
SB 6000 Relating to state general obligation bonds and related accounts. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6001 Relating to the capital budget. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6002 Relating to the capital budget. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6003 Relating to state government. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
SB 6005 Relating to revenue. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
SB 6006 Relating to education. S Ways & Means Rolfes