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2023 Legislative session preview

January 4, 2023

A new 105-day legislative session starts on Jan. 9, and it’s scheduled to end Apr. 23. Coming into 2023, Democrats will be in control of both chambers here in Washington with a 29-20 majority in the Senate and a 58-40 majority in the House of Representatives. BIAW is ready to work with pro-business and pro-builder lawmakers across the aisle to bring housing issues to the forefront.

At our Legislative Policy Committee meeting in early 2022, BIAW members brought forward their top legislative housing issues. Here are our highest priorities moving forward into this year’s legislative session:

Permit timeline reform

Local governments need to be held accountable for statutory permit timelines. BIAW will look at ways to put teeth into requiring jurisdictions to accurately report their permit timelines, defining a complete application and finding creative new ways for applicants to seek relief if jurisdictions fail to meet their statutory timeline for permits. Our government affairs team has expanded its network by working with the Department of Commerce, as well as county and city governments, to get a head start on this issue.

BIAW will also introduce a bill requiring jurisdictions to expedite and streamline the permit process by allowing architects and engineers to provide their professional stamp of approval on projects. After all, they are the certified and insured professionals trained to follow the existing codes and laws in the first place.

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) threshold exemptions

The current categorical SEPA threshold exemptions need to be clarified and codified to ensure that preliminary plats and the entire project are actually SEPA-exempt. The way the Department of Ecology currently interprets the rules, jurisdictions that have adopted threshold SEPA exemptions could require a SEPA review on only preliminary plats, but the rest of the project could be SEPA- exempt. This interpretation doesn’t make sense. If the project is supposed to be SEPA-exempt, the whole project should be SEPA-exempt.

Also, local jurisdictions should create categorical SEPA exemptions after those jurisdictions have gone through comprehensive planning. There is no need for a project to go through a SEPA review twice, and it makes more sense to have it done at the planning level.

Workforce development

Each year, we see more and more funding cuts for Career and Technical Education (CTE) in middle and high schools, partly due to efforts to push students toward a four-year degree. To counter that, BIAW will be supporting the Education Pathways Bill. This bill will use language written by BIAW requiring the State Board of Education to provide information to students and parents on all graduation pathways and the requirements for each beginning in middle school. We will also continue looking for other legislative opportunities to help our youth gain earlier and easier access to careers in the trades.

State Building Code Council reform

BIAW will partner with other construction, business and labor groups to find ways to restructure the State Building Code Council to provide cost-efficient options for new homes to be built in our state. We will also look for ways to address, slow down or oppose the new burdensome energy codes.

Impact Fee Deferral Program reform

The current process for the Impact Fee Deferral Program is broken and unusable. BIAW will be working with lawmakers to streamline this program so it actually makes sense for builders to use. We will push to simplify the paperwork, require fees to be due at the end of the process, and mandate local governments publicly post all impact fee agreements.

In addition, we expect to play defense against a host of other issues. We expect to see more labor issues resurface like ergonomics and direct contractor liability. We’re also bracing for bills adding climate change and net ecological gain to the Growth Management Act, banning natural gas and eliminating energy choice in our state, and as always, taxes, taxes and more taxes.

We need your help!

Our team will work diligently on your behalf throughout this legislative session, but we will need your help! Legislators like to hear from real people who are impacted by their choices in real life. This is where you come in.

We hold a call each Tuesday morning during session to keep you in the loop. You’ll receive updates on our priorities, opportunities to testify before the Legislature and other ways you can help by engaging with your elected officials. To sign up for these calls, email

You can also receive calls to action by signing up for our text alerts by texting “BIAW” to 50457. Keep an eye out during session for more ways to help and be involved!

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