Friday, February 23, 2024

Legislative Update


12th district legislators report some of their recent updates during WA State's 60-day legislative session.

Rep. Keith Goehner (R)
HB 1627: Extending Access to Water Drainage Within Rural Areas

Representative Keith Goehner has been promoting his recent bill towards extending access to water, storm water, and sewage services outside of urban growth areas. He states that this bill would extend city services beyond city limits.

"It's intended to be used sparingly, but it leaves the city in the driver's seat as far as determining whether it makes sense for them with their plan to build out, and also the current capacities that they have. It's all dependent upon the local governments to make that determination."

Goehner states that both Cashmere and Leavenworth communities may benefit from this bill due to the increasing development within their urban growth areas.

"This would allow them to provide hookups for additional homes that are within close proximity and would help defray some of the ongoing costs of that system."

This bill is currently being reviewed by the Rules Committee.

Sen. Brad Hawkins (R)
Affordable Housing in Chelan County

Recently, Sen. Brad Hawkins proposed SB 5868, a bill that would expand the use of rural county public facilities sales and use taxes to help fund affordable housing. This is the alternative proposed to replace an earlier proposed bill that would use lodging taxes to fund affordable housing

Rural counties would have the ability to use up to 0.09% of the tax, and would be credited against the state's 6.5% sales tax. Consumers would not see a difference in their taxes.

"It’s an alternative to my original bill, Senate Bill 5513, to utilize the existing lodging tax to provide local governments more flexibility to address their housing challenges," Hawkins explained. "Senate Bill 5868 doesn’t propose a new or expanded tax. It would simply provide local governments additional permissible uses of an existing tax stream."

Those who testified their support for the bill include: Leavenworth Mayor Carl Florea; Leavenworth City Councilmember Zeke Reister; Julia Gorton from the Washington Hospitality Association; Bruce Beckett from the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce; Steven Wilkinson from the Chelan Valley Housing Trust; Sasha Sleiman, Chelan County; Kaylin Bettinger from the Upper Valley MEND/SHARE Community Land Trust; Cascade Health CEO Diane Blake; and Sarah Brown from TwispWorks.

The bill was read for a second time by the Rules Committee on Feb. 3, 2022.

Rep. Mike Steele (R)
Capitol Budget Development

Rep. Mike Steele and his team have been paying close attention to the development of the Capitol Budget.

The Capital Budget provides funding for all WA State infrastructures such as education, state parks, and other construction projects.

"We've got some planning money that we're working on for the Wenatchee YMCA. We've got some money and funding for new fire stations in Elmer."

Limiting Gov. Emergency Executive Power

Legislators have been paying close attention to HB 1772, a bill that proposes to limit Gov. Jay Inslee's emergency powers. This would include more supervision by the House and Senate and limiting a State of Emergency (SOE) to 60 days. The governor could add more time if approved by legislation and would Limits Governor orders that prohibit certain actions during a SOE to 30 days unless extended by legislation.

"The governor's been solely in charge of the COVID response for almost 800 days by himself. The legislature is in session, and I think we have an obligation to help govern the state. I mean, we are an independent branch of the government and we need to play our part in addressing the crisis."


Sen. Brad Hawkins, Rep. Keith Goehner, Rep. Mike Steele, Legislative session, legislative update, Legislation, 2022


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