Bills of Note Moving To Opposite Chambers
As the deadline approaches for the last day to consider bills in their house of origin we've seen several notable bills reach their final vote and pave the way for introduction in the opposite chamber for consideration. At this midpoint of the 105-day session Friday, February 24, 2023 was the final day to move bills out of fiscal committees and on to the floor. This session has garnered bipartisan support for workforce and education, with several bills meant to expand knowledge and access to statewide career training and development. Additional information is included below on specific measures within various topic areas.
Workforce, Apprenticeships and Education
Wide bipartisan support continues to be championed for workforce development in both chambers of the State Legislature. With wide support and application of three programs West of the Cascades and another three programs East of the Cascades SHB 1013 - Establishing Regional Apprenticeship Programs continues on to the Senate. If it moves forward, the bill would direct the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Educational Service Districts to establish Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Pilot Program with six program sites statewide.
Senate Bill 5617 has passed the Senate and moved on to the House of Representatives allowing for greater equivalency of programs between school districts and skill centers, requiring any course equivalencies approved by OSPI to be honored by other participating school districts. The bill would also require schools to notify enrolled student's parents from 8th through 12th grade about what opportunities exist for students to meet credit-based graduation requirements through regional skill centers.
HB 1216 has moved out of fiscal committees and is pending a floor vote by the February 8, 2023 deadline. The Clean Energy Siting bill considered in the House would create an Interagency Clean Energy Siting Coordinating Council chaired by the Department of Ecology and Department of Commerce. The proposed process identifies a more comprehensive process for siting of significant clean energy projects; however, the stalled companion Senate Bill and the introduced House Bill have eliminated language that would have required projects to demonstrate need and/or utility for the type and scale of the installation.
Development and Housing
Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1293 has passed the House of Representatives with minor opposition paving the way to exempt residential development from additional State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review under certain conditions where sited within an Urban Growth Area. This would largely apply to all housing development within City limits across the Tri-Cities, and exempt further environmental review where the proposed residential development is otherwise compliant with all existing development regulations, the City or County within the Urban Growth Area has previously had its comprehensive plan subjected to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), such plan fully addresses transportation impacts, and the proposed development is located where there are not existing or anticipated transportation safety or operational deficiencies.
House Bill 1258 has already advanced to the Senate for consideration to increase funding to the Statewide Tourism Marketing Account and reducing requisite match requirements for eligible entities. This proposal increases the cap from $3M to $9M for revenues able to be accumulated on the tax of retail sales on lodging, car rentals and restaurants (without raising said tax), and reduces the match to access funding from 2-to-1 to 1-to-1.