Government Affairs Monthly Update

Jamie Howsley

Jamie Howsley is a land use attorney practicing in Washington and Oregon. He has served as the BIA’s Government Affairs Director since 2011. You can reach Jamie directly via email or call 360.281.1123.

The Government Affairs Committee meets on the second Monday of the month in the BIA office at 3:30 pm.

Now that the legislative session has started, we know the policy direction of House and Senate majorities; and it isn’t good. With unassailable majorities, both bodies are pushing anti-business legislation that puts the home building industry in the cross hairs. From enforcing new direct contractor employee liabilities, a “sins of the son” bill, to adding to the cost of housing through a housing trust fund and ever-increasing environmental regulations, they seem to be throwing everything on the table that their progressive constituents demand. All the while, ignoring the realities of an already cost prohibitive, inefficient market and the desire of the majority of the constituency to support a measured, moderate agenda.

Advocacy is one of the main objectives of the BIA and BIAW, which is needed now more than ever. Take a moment and read Bills to Watch to see what we are working on and how you can help.

Government affairs and advocacy often seems like a “black box” endeavor to members and others in the industry, but we can point to direct effects our efforts have had recently. From an urban tree program in Camas to school impact fees in Ridgefield, the BIA worked on behalf of you to make sure the building industry was represented. Local Advocacy, Broad Impact highlights some of these efforts and how you helped. And in Stretching Park Impact Fee Dollars (below) you can read about our most recent win at the county level.

Although direct advocacy is visible and immediate, long term policy change requires a higher level of involvement. Whether supporting candidates through financial contributions and efforts or opposing initiatives harmful to our industry, the Building Industry Group (BIG) is our political action committee tasked with making those changes. But, to succeed, it needs your support. Financial contributions are the lifeblood of a PAC and BIG is no different. Take a moment and find out what the BIG does; if you haven’t, become a contributing member; offer or solicit an auction item for the upcoming auction; or just attend. Through your support, we will support home building in Clark County and help residents achieve their dream of home ownership.

Stretching Park Impact Fee Dollars

After tabling a proposal to add trails to the equation used to calculate park impact fees (PIF) last month, the Clark County council passed a code change on Tuesday, February 12 allowing PIFs to be used for trails without increasing fees.

Although the BIA supports including trails as eligible projects for PIF funds, the previous method proposed by department staff caused concern. The proposal recommended adopting trail projects as a separate item in the PIF calculation in addition to current costs; an action that could presumably lead to increasing PIFs.

In previous testimony before and in discussions with council members, Government Affairs Coordinator Ryan Makinster, stated his understanding that a definition change in code would allow PIFs to be used for trails without a change to the formula.

The language, adopted on Tuesday, mirrors a suggested fix proposed by BIA and is a great example of a positive solution reached through agreement between the council, staff, the parks foundation and home builders.

In addition to making park construction more efficient and allowing trails to be connected through use of PIFs, this change will also allow developers to receive credit for trails they construct that connect to existing parks and trail systems. This will provide for more cost-effective trail construction and appropriate use of PIFs while also expanding recreational opportunities in Clark County.

For more information please contact Ryan Makinster at ryan@biaofclarkcounty.org or 360.694.0933.