Halfway through session: WA Lawmakers have curious priorities
Much of the attention during this legislative session has centered around the handling – or lack thereof – of the six citizen-led initiatives. Despite the state constitution’s requirement for them to take precedence over all matters aside from the state budget, none of them have been granted a hearing at the halfway point of the session. Even a bill that would restore voting rights of those convicted of “infamous crimes,” including serial killers, got more attention.
So how are lawmakers in Olympia prioritizing their time in this condensed, election-year legislative session? Here are two bills you should be paying attention to, if you are not already:
SB 5770: Triples cap for property tax increases
Due to a voter-approved referendum and subsequent action by the legislature, property tax increases by local governments in our state are not allowed to exceed 1% annually, which along with no income tax, is one of the few tax advantages offered to Washingtonians. Even with that, Seattle has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, as covered Feb. 9 in the Seattle Times. This bill would toss that cap aside and allow annual property tax increases up to 3%, which would have a massive compounding effect on homeowners. It’s advanced out of a Senate committee with a vote in the full chamber expected soon. If it passes there, it moves to the House.
HB 1589: Natural gas ban
While the specific details of the legislation are in flux due to amendments, this bill could restrict or outright ban natural gas installation in new construction. On top of that, it would allow Puget Sound Energy the authority to determine when it’s no longer financially viable to provide natural gas service to existing customers and shut it down – potentially resulting in up to a $206 monthly increase on homeowners electric bills. This bill has passed the Washington State House and is awaiting action in the Senate.
These two bills are still active in the legislative process, and it’s more important now than ever that lawmakers hear from you. Click here to find and contact your state lawmakers.
Thank you for your engagement on these important issues. Future 42 will keep you updated on these through the remainder of the legislative session.