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Legislative Cutoff Update

February 20, 2020

Thank you for contacting your state legislators to oppose HB 1395, “Direct Contractor Liability,” which would have general or direct contractors liable for the unpaid wages and benefits of their subcontractor’s employees. Over 1,000 emails were sent by members and made a difference! BIAW will continue to work over the interim to find solutions, so workers get paid for their work, but for now, HB 1395 has officially died.

BIAW’s Advocacy Team successfully stopped other ideas at cutoff. As always, we anticipate they will be revisited in the next session:

SB 6053, Wage Liens, would allow employees to file a lien for unpaid wages against an employer’s personal or business property along with the property of any officers of the company. There is currently a system in place in Washington for employees to file wage complaints with the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). This system mostly avoids the need for aggrieved workers to hire attorneys. Instead, it is meant to be accessible and straightforward. If it’s not meeting this goal, then L&I should look inward to improve its system rather than creating an expensive mess that benefits no one but the plaintiff’s attorneys.

HB 2564, Mandatory Safety Training: This bill would require employers working in construction to send all of their workers to Occupational Safety and Health Administration training at the employer’s cost, including wages while they attend. BIAW worked with the sponsor and instead will support a safety module about suicide prevention.

HB 2550, Net Ecological Gain: The concept of net ecological gain is defined as a standard for a land-use permit, development project, policy, plan, development regulation, or activity in which environmental impacts caused by the development are outweighed by measures taken consistent with the mitigation hierarchy. This legislation would greatly expand the authority of agencies and local governments, which is fundamentally flawed and constitutionally questionable— requiring mitigation for more than the impact would have negative effects on housing costs and property rights.

Along with the bad, fortunately, some good ideas remain on the table:

SB 6317/HB 2894, Concrete Pumping: The Dept. of Revenue (DOR) issued guidance over the summer that would require concrete pumpers to pay sales tax even if their concrete would be resold as a part of the whole building, which amounts to double taxation on the product which previously did not exist. There was very little notice to the industry and DOR delayed implementation unless the legislature acts and tells it to continue to collect these taxes when the final building is sold.

HB 2673, Reduce Redundancy for Housing: Washington must streamline and integrate the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and GMA. HB 2673 streamlines SEPA and comp planning: A project that complies with the underlying comp plan would be categorically exempt—this is how it should work. Doing this eliminates costly SEPA paperwork, studies, and appeals, and would quicken the housing production pace.

HB 2687, Metrics for Attainable Housing Standards: It’s time to bring additional emphasis and clarity to the housing element requirements of GMA. Currently, local governments are required to plan for housing. Most jurisdictions are not adequately planning for every housing type identified in GMA. HB 2687 adds real housing metrics to GMA by updating the requirements for countywide planning policies. Not every city can provide every housing type in sufficient proportions to meet the needs of the community; however, unless there are policies, there is no way to know if jurisdiction is achieving their overall goals. This bill clarifies what is required; strengthens the housing element requirements to ensure cities and counties plan for each housing type appropriately. In short, this would emphasize the need to not only plan for the population but also specific housing types.

Sadly, some very good BIAW supported bills have died, and we will continue to work to educate lawmakers on these critical topics to our industry:

SB 6470, SEPA Paperwork Reduction: An applicant whose project, action, or project decision is described as being exempt or categorically exempt is not required to file a checklist or any other paperwork to prove the categorical exemption if the initial application contains sufficient information showing that the project, action, or project decision is exempt or categorically exempt.

HB 2886, Permit Timelines, requiring local governments to adhere to the 120-day permit approval timeline. This legislation would clarify permit timelines, including permit completeness. HB 2886 still allows for local timeline flexibility for permits that may need more than the base 120 days. This legislation would also ban local governments from asking for a timeline waiver upfront or after a repeated resubmittal. This bill would require automatically approval of permits that go beyond timelines in the statute.

HB 2667, Energy Code Implementation, seeks to delay the implementation of the 2018 Washington State Energy Code. BIAW members, including two Built Green founders, testified in favor of this bipartisan legislation, which, if not passed, will add an estimated $12,000 to the price of an average home.

HB 2672, Flexibility for LAMIRDs Limited Areas of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRD) are allowed under the Growth Management Act (GMA); however, there are significant limitations that have created a one-size-fits-all approach to planning. Life is different in Snohomish County than it is in Stevens County. LAMIRDs could be valuable tools to help rural communities have economic growth, but they are instead “economic sinkholes.” Even the Ruckelshaus Center’s Roadmap Project noted that the LAMIRDs were overly restrictive to be useful. To address these “economic sinkholes,” Washington needs to provide some flexibility around manding LAMIRDs into the future. HB 2672 includes flexibility about how boundaries are set, gives more discretion to local government in making decisions around LAMIRDs, and clarifies that new uses are allowed.

SB 6463, SEPA Paperwork Reduction: A local government planning under the GMA must not require additional environmental analysis or mitigation measures beyond what has previously been completed for a comprehensive plan on any project that proposes uses or density and intensity of use that does not exceed the impacts of the levels of service, land use designations, or development standards previously considered in development regulations. Project approvals made under this bill are not subject to appeal under SEPA. Additionally, a local government must determine that the requirements for environmental analysis and mitigation measures in development regulations and other applicable laws provide adequate mitigation for some or all of the project’s specific adverse environmental impacts to which the requirements apply.

Again, we are especially proud of the death of HB 1395, the “Direct Contractor Liability” bill. It was only because of the help of our members testifying in person and over 1,000 calls and emails made by members that the bill died. Thank you again for your continued support of BIAW!

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