Olympia Legislative Update - Week 5

Posted By: Sean Martin (deleted) Advocacy,

Last week saw the end of fiscal committees consideration of bills, with lawmakers spending almost all their time in caucus with their party and voting on the floor. In the Senate, two controversial votes on bathroom gender, and 2/3rds majority to eliminate tax exemptions have created the first serious animosity and threats to end the productivity of broader agreements. The legislature will continue with floor action for three more days, until they run into the all-important house of origin cutoff at 5pm on Wednesday the 17th.

RHAWA continues to work alongside the housing coalition to bring SB 6413 (landlord-tenant omnibus) out of the Senate, the bill is sponsored by moderate Senator Mark Mullet. His work with the Chair in the Senate housing committee on the issue made him the clear choice as sponsor, and he continues to work diligently to put the bill above petty party politics. We also have a backstop version of the bill (HB 2811) that will move in the house this upcoming week.

Following a unanimous vote in 2015, the Senate again voted out SSB 5221 (Concerning Tenant Property Disposition) 49-0 on Wednesday. The bill would amend the current language in the RLTA that says that a landlord may place a tenant’s property on the nearest public right of way when a tenant abandons the property after an eviction has been executed. The bill would specify that the landlord may dispose of the property after it has been placed on the public right of way for at least five days. The legislation was created by the Washington Rental Owners Association, and supported by RHA. It currently has a scheduled hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday the 18th at 1:30pm.

Over three separate days the House Democrats attempted to bring HB 1278 forward for a vote on the floor. The bill would require buildings larger than 20,000 square feet to report energy use data to their utilities. RHA lobby team worked alongside a coalition of property owners and business interests to prevent the bill from being brought forward. There is a still a good chance that the bill will be brought up for a vote in the Democratically controlled House, but the continued resistance creates advantages to eventually kill the bill in the Senate.

On Friday, RHAWA met with representatives from housing authorities in Seattle, King County, Spokane, Bremerton, Southwest Washington, and the Tri-cities area in order to better understand the procedural hurdles of section 8 vouchers. The group discusses barriers to speedy inspections, demographics of voucher holders, and the difficulty of housing a voucher holder who has a troublesome rental history. The group agreed to meet again in April, with an agenda to develop non-legislative action items that will allow landlords and housing authorities to better communicate.