Final Legislative Session Report: March 16, 2020

The 2020 Legislative Session officially adjourned on time on Thursday, March 12th. This was the second half of the biennial budget session in which legislators meet in Olympia for just 60 days to pass policy bills and pass supplemental budgets. Although “short” sessions are historically intended to be limited to making minor budgetary adjustments and passing relatively few new policy measures, this session saw an unprecedented volume of new legislation. Over 1000 new bills were introduced in the first week of session alone. Furthermore, as this was the second half of the two-year cycle, all bills introduced in 2019 that did not pass—2,211 of them to be exact—were still alive and active at the beginning of session. Overall, 3,672 pieces of legislation were in play during this short session and 377 of those have passed the legislature and are on their way to the Governor’s desk to likely be signed into law. 

This session began with several notable changes to the legislature, the biggest of those being the transition from long-standing Speaker of the House Frank Chopp to newly selected Speaker Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma. All eyes were on Speaker Jinkins to see how her style and leadership in the House of Representatives would differ from her predecessor. Rep. Chopp also returned to his House seat representing the 43rd Legislative District for the first time in 20 years.

This session continued last year’s attention on climate and environmental policy with a number of climate-related proposals. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) legislation, a tool to reduce carbon impacts of transportation fuels, failed to pass for the second session in a row due to significant opposition from numerous stakeholders and key legislators. We do expect this to be an active piece of next session’s robust transportation package. Several new climate proposals were introduced in response to the WA State Supreme Court’s early January ruling that invalidated part of Governor Inslee’s Clean Air Rule, his plan to cap carbon pollution in the state. The proposed bills would have given the Department of Ecology the authority to regulate indirect emitters such as fuel distributors, in addition to direct emitters like refineries. Although none of these proposals made it to the finish line, it is widely anticipated that these issues will be a major focus of the 2021 session, particularly some form of cap and trade policy. One bill that did pass was HB 2311, which updates state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science.

Other issues that took center stage this session included sex education in schools, facial recognition, and tribal sports gambling. Despite notable controversy and opposition, legislation on all of these topics ultimately passed the legislature and are currently on their way to the Governor. Another high-profile piece of legislation considered this session was the Washington Privacy Act sponsored by Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-36). Stakeholders and the prime sponsor have been working on this legislation for two years and despite passing the Senate with strong bipartisan support the bill did not pass this year. The House Democratic caucus made significant changes to the bill, specifically with the enforcement provisions, which ultimately were unable to be resolved through conference causing the bill to fail in the final hours of session.   

The legislature also passed Supplemental Transportation, Operating, and Capital Budgets in the final days of session. Adjustments to the Operating Budget increase appropriations for the 2019-21 biennium close to a billion dollars. Major investments include $160 million to fund homelessness and affordable housing, $153 million for childcare and early learning, and $69 million in affordable healthcare. Additionally, amidst growing concern over the COVID-19 virus in the final hours of session, the legislature increased emergency investments in virus-related health services and created a new unemployment fund, $175 million of which came from the disaster relief account and $25 million in federal funds. It is very likely that the legislature will need to reconvene via “special session” in a few months in order to continue efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis. 

No new taxes were passed this year other than SB 6492, which replaces the current Workforce Education Investment Act (passed in 2019) surcharge with a 1.75 percent business and occupation. Legislation introduced that would authorize King Country to impose a tax on businesses with employees who earn at least $150,000 a year to fund homelessness, affordable housing, and behavioral health services failed this session. Despite the flurry of activity on campus and in the media, stakeholders were unable to reach an agreement and the bill never made significant progress. Tax bills that passed this year included; SB 5147 which ends the sales tax on menstrual products, making Washington the 18th state to do so and HB 2803 which authorizes the Governor to enter into compacts with tribes to address sales and business taxes imposed on transactions between non-tribal member businesses and non-tribal customers conducted on tribally owned land. Another significant tax bill passing the final day of session was SB 6690 which removes the preferential B&O tax rate for the aerospace industry, which is intended to resolve the international trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union. The bill does however, create a pathway for the preferential rate to be reinstated in the future should the dispute be resolved. 

Finally, a number of legislators have now announced their retirement or resignation following session. This includes Representatives Norma Smith (R-10), Sherry Appleton (D-23), Eric Pettigrew (D-37), Christine Kilduff (D-28), and Richard DeBoldt (R-20), and Senators Maureen Walsh (R-16) and Randi Becker (R-2). Additionally, several members will be leaving the legislature to pursue higher or other office. Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D-30) will be challenging Republican State Treasurer Duane Davidson in 2020. Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-36) will be running against Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Sen. Hans Zieger (R-25) intends to run for a seat on the Pierce County Council. Finally, Rep. Beth Doglio (D-22) has joined the crowded race in Washington’s 10th Congressional District to replace Rep. Denny Heck, who is retiring. Finally,if successful in his bid for appointment to the Snohomish County Council, Rep. Jared Mead (D-44) will also resign his seat. 

Challengers emerging in high-profile races include; Tacoma Urban League CEO T’wina Nobles (D) will challenge Senator Steve O’Ban (R-28). Washington State Nurses Association PAC Vice Chair and Overlake nurse Ingrid Anderson (D) has launched a campaign to unseat Senator Mark Mullet (D-5). Seattle LGBTQ Commissioner Jessi Murray (D) has announced a bid against Representative Frank Chopp (D-43), and Sharlett Mena (D) against Representative Steve Kirby (D-29).

It should also be noted that due to the COVID-19 virus there will not be any public bill signings this year.

Though this session was fairly uneventful in terms of passage of any significant clean energy related legislation, we were able to spend time educating and updating members on various Clean Energy Fund funded projects. The House Capital Budget committee held a work session in week seven of session. The Department of Commerce, PNNL, Avista, Impact Bioenergy, and Craft3 presented on their projects, with specific efforts made to inform legislators of the high return on investment and the need to continue investing in such projects. Watch the full work session here. We will be continuing work on highlighting the value of these projects to legislators over the interim and next session, particularly in the Senate.

Passed Bills

Bill # Abbrev. Title Short Description Status Sponsor
Position
E2SHB 2311 (SB 6272) Greenhouse gas emissions Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science. Del to Gov Slatter  
ESHB 2322 (SSB 6497) Transp. budget, supplemental Making supplemental transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium. Del to Gov Fey  
SB 5811 (HB 1999) Clean car standards & prog. Reducing emissions by making changes to the clean car standards and clean car program. Del to Gov Nguyen  
SSB 6135 System reliability/energy Concerning system reliability under the clean energy transformation act. Del to Gov Sheldon  
ESSB 6168 (SHB 2325) Operating budget, supplement Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations. Del to Gov Rolfes  
ESSB 6248 (SHB 2324) Capital budget, supplemental Concerning the capital budget. Del to Gov Frockt  

Dead Bills

Bill # Abbrev. Title Short Description Status Sponsor Position
E2SHB 1110 (SB 5412) Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Transportation Fitzgibbon  
SHB 1113 (Inactive) Greenhouse emission limits 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 (Inactive) Transp. electrification Concerning the electrification of transportation. H Env & Energy Morris  
HB 1128 (Inactive) Electric & nat gas companies Authorizing an alternative form of regulation of electrical and natural gas companies. H Env & Energy Morris  
HB 1129 (Inactive) Customer-sited electricity Concerning customer-sited electricity generation. H Env & Energy Morris  
2SHB 1211 (Inactive) (E2SSB 5116) Clean energy Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. H Approps Tarleton  
SHB 1226 (Inactive) Clean energy Encouraging investment in and reducing the costs of transitioning to the clean energy future. H Finance DeBolt  
HB 1397 (Inactive) Electric aircraft Encouraging the use of electric or hybrid-electric aircraft for regional air travel. H Rules X Slatter  
SHB 1642 (Inactive) On-bill repayment programs 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 (Inactive) (2SSB 5336) Electric transportation Advancing electric transportation. H Env & Energy Slatter  
SHB 1796 (SB 5730) Comm. property/clean energy Concerning commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience. H Local Govt Doglio  
SHB 1832 (Inactive) Public vehicle fleet Concerning the electrification of the Washington public vehicle fleet. H Trans Macri  
HB 1862 (Inactive) (E2SSB 5223) Electrical net metering Concerning net metering. H Env & Energy Mead  
HB 1984 (Inactive) Ag competitiveness/emissions 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 (Inactive) (SSB 5936) Industrial symbioses Concerning use of industrial waste through industrial symbioses. H Env & Energy Doglio  
SHB 2156 (Inactive) Taxes on asset sales, profit 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 X Jinkins  
2SHB 2157 (Inactive) Tax structure Updating the Washington tax structure to address the needs of Washingtonians. H Rules X Tarleton  
ESHB 2248 (SB 6223) Community solar projects Expanding equitable access to the benefits of renewable energy through community solar projects. Del to Gov Doglio  
SHB 2324 (ESSB 6248) Capital budget, supplemental Concerning the capital budget. H Rules R Tharinger  
SHB 2325 (ESSB 6168) Operating budget, supplement Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations. H Rules R Ormsby  
SHB 2486 (SB 6318) Electric marine batteries Extending the electric marine battery incentive. Del to Gov Lekanoff  
HB 2495 Energy recovery facilities Concerning the use of electricity from energy recovery facilities using municipal solid waste under the Washington clean energy transformation act. H Env & Energy Shewmake  
HB 2515 Transp. electrification Concerning the electrification of transportation. H Trans Macri  
SHB 2586 (SB 6496) Electrification Concerning the electrification of homes and buildings. H Rules C Ramel  
HB 2652 Renewable ammonia Concerning renewable ammonia. H RDev, Ag&NR Doglio  
HB 2756 Metering infrastructure Concerning advanced metering infrastructure. H Env & Energy Shea  
SHB 2892 Greenhouse gas emissions Authorizing the department of ecology to regulate greenhouse gas emissions associated with persons who produce or distribute fossil fuel products that emit greenhouse gases in Washington. H Approps Fitzgibbon  
SHB 2957 Greenhouse gases/indirect Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing authority for the regulation of indirect sources under the clean air act and implementing standards and programs that reduce emissions associated with buildings. H Rules R Fitzgibbon  
SB 5108 (Inactive) (HB 1070) Natural gas tax treatment Concerning the tax treatment of renewable natural gas. S Environment, E King  
2SSB 5115 (Inactive) (2SHB 1444) Appliance efficiency Concerning appliance efficiency standards. S Rules X Carlyle  
SB 5118 (Inactive) Self-generated electricity Concerning the right to consume self-generated electricity. S Rules X Palumbo  
SSB 5134 (SHB 1102) Capital budget 2019-2021 Concerning the capital budget. S Rules X Frockt  
SB 5153 (Inactive) (ESHB 1109) Operating budget 2019-2021 Making 2019-2021 biennium operating appropriations. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
2SSB 5293 (Inactive) (E3SHB 1257) Energy efficiency Concerning energy efficiency. S Rules X Carlyle  
2SSB 5336 (Inactive) (HB 1664) Electric transportation Advancing electric transportation. S Ways & Means Palumbo  
SB 5412 (Inactive) (E2SHB 1110) Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Environment, E Saldaña  
SB 5629 (Inactive) Small modular reactors Promoting small modular reactors in Washington. S Environment, E Brown  
SB 5730 (Inactive) (SHB 1796) Comm. property/clean energy Concerning commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience. S Environment, E Palumbo  
SSB 5936 (Inactive) (HB 2079) Industrial symbioses Concerning use of industrial waste through industrial symbioses. S Rules X Brown  
SB 5980 (Inactive) Greenhouse gas emissions TO Relating to greenhouse gas emissions. S Environment, E Carlyle  
SB 5981 (Inactive) Greenhouse gas cap and trade Implementing a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. S Environment, E Carlyle  
SB 6000 (Inactive) Gen. obligation bonds T.O. Relating to state general obligation bonds and related accounts. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6001 (Inactive) Capital budget T.O. Relating to the capital budget. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6002 (Inactive) Capital budget T.O. Relating to the capital budget. S Ways & Means Frockt  
SB 6003 (Inactive) State government T.O. Relating to state government. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
SB 6005 (Inactive) Revenue T.O. Relating to revenue. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
SB 6006 (Inactive) Education T.O. Relating to education. S Ways & Means Rolfes  
SB 6222 (E2SHB 2405) Comm. property/clean energy Concerning commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience. S Environment, E Lovelett  
SB 6223 (ESHB 2248) Community solar projects Expanding equitable access to the benefits of renewable energy through community solar projects. S Environment, E Lovelett  
SB 6272 (E2SHB 2311) Greenhouse gas emissions Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science. S Environment, E Das  
SB 6318 (SHB 2486) Electric marine batteries Extending the electric marine battery incentive. S Transportation Liias  
SB 6496 (SHB 2586) Electrification Concerning the electrification of homes and buildings. S Environment, E Lovelett  
SSB 6628 Greenhouse gas/fossil fuels Concerning emissions of greenhouse gases. S Rules 2 Carlyle  

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