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Wk 12: 2021 Legislative Update

Each week, Trent House AFA's Government Relation's Director, gives you insight into Olympia, providing an update on the week's proceedings.

Join Trent every Friday during session for a discussion of activities in the Legislature via Zoom. Register at

Week of March 29-April 2

Friday, April 2 was the last day for bills to pass out of fiscal committees in the opposite chamber. In the week leading up to this cutoff, both chambers have spent long days and evenings in fiscal committees and on the floor voting out the budgets and other bills.

In a letter dated Monday, March 29, twenty-three Republican House and Senate members asked legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle for help in terminating Governor Jay Inslee’s state of emergency before the 2021 session ends on April 25. Several bills seeking to curtail the governor’s emergency powers have been introduced this session, but they made little progress in the Majority Democrat House and Senate. Earlier this year, the House and Senate both agreed to extend more than two dozen covid-related emergency proclamations indefinitely, until the state of emergency ends.

Firearm Open-Carry Bill

After five hours of debate, the House of Representatives passed 5038 (Kuderer, D-48) the open carry bill on Sunday, March 28. The bill would prohibit the open-carry of firearms and other weapons at the state Capitol and within 250 feet of permitted public demonstrations. Several states, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming have prohibitions on concealed-carry, open-carry, or both at state legislative and other government-owned buildings. Republican lawmakers argued the bill is a violation of the Second Amendment, an argument rejected by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last week. The House adopted four amendments to the bill, one of which is an emergency clause, so the bill must return to the Senate for concurrence.

Office of Firearm Safety

This week, the State Department of Commerce launched the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which will lead a statewide effort to coordinate intervention and prevention strategies to address community gun violence. The office’s work will be directed at the highest risk populations of perpetrators and victims in the highest-risk communities. The most prominent areas where there are high numbers of people killed by guns appear in the Puget Sound, Yakima area, and Spokane area, according to data from 2016-2019 collected by the Washington State Department of Health Center for Health Statistics. The office was formed under legislation sponsored by Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45) in 2020.

Private Prisons Ban

On Tuesday, March 30 the Senate passed 1090 (Ortiz-Self, D-21) banning private prisons in Washington. The bill now heads to the governor. After signed into law, it will force the closure of the Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma by 2025 and will prevent other private detention facilities – whether criminal or civil – from opening. Washington will be the 23rd state to outlaw private detention. In January, President Joe Biden directed the Department of Justice to end contracts for private prisons but exempted facilities run for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Local Sales Tax for Affordable Housing/Behavioral Health

The Senate passed 1070 (Ryu, D-32) on Tuesday, March 30 sending it to Governor Inslee for signature. The bill builds on legislation signed by Governor Inslee in 2019 allowing cities and counties to pass a local sales tax for construction of affordable housing, housing-related services, and behavioral health services. 1070 expands the allowable uses of revenue from this locally collected state sales tax to include the purchase of affordable housing, such as hotels, not just construction. Allowing the acquisition of facilities could help King County implement the Health Through Housing Initiative which aims to provide behavioral health care and house up to 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in King County.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard

1091 (Fitzgibbon, D-34), the Governor Inslee-request low carbon fuel standard, took another major step this week when it was voted out of the Senate Ways and Means committee on a party-line vote. The committee passed a striker by Senator Mark Mullet (D-5) with an amendment to the striker by Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24). Chair Rolfes announced the bill will go to Rules rather than the Transportation committee where it has died the last two sessions. The LCFS is the second bill leadership is guiding away from the Transportation committee, the other of which is the cap-and-trade bill. The amended LCFS striker:

(1) Removes the 2028 standard of 10 percent below 2017 levels and instead provides that the rules adopted by the Department of Ecology (Ecology) phase-in in carbon intensity reduction not to exceed .5% a year in 2023 and 2024, 1% a year beginning in 2025 through 2027, 1.5% a year in 2028 through 2031, and 2.5% a year beginning in 2032 through 2034.

(2) Removes the requirement that Ecology must update, prior to 2032, CFP rules to further reduce GHG emissions from each unit of transportation fuel for each year through 2050, consistent with statutory state emission reduction limits.

(3) Requires the passage of a separate additive transportation funding act generating more than $500 million per biennium in revenue before Ecology may assign compliance obligations or allow for actual credit generation in order to coordinate and synchronize the clean fuels program with other transportation-related investments.

(4) Adds program design provisions, directs Ecology to regularly monitor the availability of fuels need for compliance and calculate the volume-weighted average price of credits monthly and post on its website.

(5) Removes the examples of cost containment mechanisms and the direction to design mechanisms to provide a financial disincentive for regulate persons to rely on the mechanisms for cost compliance and instead directs Ecology to hold a credit clearance market for any compliance period where at least one regulate party reports it has a net deficit balance.

(6) Directs Ecology to set the maximum price for credits in a credit clearance market, which may not exceed $200 for 2028, and for 2029 and subsequent years may exceed $200 as annually adjusted for inflation.

(7) Requires Ecology to eva