This is a quick update for the second week of this short 2016 legislative session was highlighted by a King County Superior Court judge ruling on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366, unconstitutional. According to Ballotpedia, “The initiative put the Legislature in a position where it must make a decision: either let the tax decrease take effect or stop it by referring an amendment to the ballot.” That tax decrease would have been 1% decrease, but the legislature could provide an option to the voters to require 2/3 majority vote of the legislature or a vote of the people, to raise taxes.
He’s vowed to appeal. With another loss however, you won’t see Eyman stop his efforts to require supermajority tax increases.
The Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee of the House had hearings on the HB 2544, sponsored by Rep. Frame, newly appointed Representative from Seattle’s 36th District to replace Rep. Carlyle who was appointed to the Senate Seat vacated by Sen. Kohl-Wells, now King County Council Member. This bill is a companion to Sen Fain’s bill SB 6239, which is being supported by RHA, and was brought forward by the City of Seattle. Rep Appleton’s bill (HB 2442) is also being supported by RHA and partners. This bill from the new County Assessor of King County, John Wilson creates “affordable housing zones” as an option for local governments to provide tax breaks for landlords that keep rents down within those designated zones. I’m not sure we will see both bills get through the session, but it’s good to see some discussion about incentives for landlords in helping keep rents as low as possible whild still maintaining financial viability. Of note was the work session on affordable housing in that committee before the hearings. For over an hour the committee heard testimony from now less than 9 people, none of which were private sector landlords. Bill Hinkle testified on HB 2442 and mentioned that it is important to include the private sector in any broad discussion about affordability. This was the approach the City of Seattle took and we hope the legislature will follow.
Amendments to HB 1605 are coming that will apparently remove the permanent levy option and the 10 year simple majority option. Not sure if this will make it to the floor, but it looks like the members heard our testimony. The bill passed out of committee on a party line with all R’s voting no except one of the sponsors Rep. Griffey, a professional firefighter in Mason County.
ES 1553, the CROP bill that provides a Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity to some convicted felons and misdemeanants is still being negotiated by Sen. Padden and Rep. Walkinshaw. This bill has been supported by RHA with hopes that if this passes we will stop the City of Seattle from doing a local version that could affect landlords specifically, which ES 1553 currently does not.
Lastly, Senator Benton’s committee on Housing will hear a negotiated bill (SB 6413) between landlords and tenant advocates regarding definition of a portable screening document and listing requirements for informing the public if landlords will accept a “re-useable” or commonly called portable screen. RHA supports this legislation in its current iteration.