Government Affairs Monthly Update
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.
February Government Affairs Update
The first month of the year is in the books and it has already been eventful nationally, at the state level and here locally. Here are some of the government affairs highlights of the past thirty days or so.
State of Washington
Finally, after a record legislative session last year, a fix to the Hirst decision by the Washington Supreme Court happened allowing a capital budget to also pass. On January 18 the legislature passed Senate Bill 6091 and Governor Inslee signed the bill the next day ending the long stand-off. This is huge win for the industry because rural development had stopped in some areas of the state while others had passed onerous rules requiring expensive studies to get a well. The bill provides clarity and certainty in the wake of the Hirst decision that muddied the process for exempt wells.
Some of the highlights of the bill is that it would allow for a 3,000 gallon per day connection for wells within certain basins that had undertaken watershed planning. An exempt well would be allowed for up to 950 gallons per day for basins without watershed planning which would drop down to 350 gallons per day of indoor use only in drought conditions.
Rural ADU Bill
A couple of bills had been floated early in session that would amend the Growth Management Act to loosen the rules around rural accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as a tool to help reduce housing affordability pressures. As of the drafting of this article, these bills appear to have stalled.
But speaking of ADU’s, Clark County passed a new ordinance changing the ADU standards for Clark County. The BIA had worked through the Development Engineering Advisory Board for over a year trying to pursue amendments to make ADUs easier to build in unincorporated Clark County. Some the highlights include:
· Creating greater flexibility by changing some of the dimensional standards and allowing them in more zoning districts.
· Eliminates the owner occupied requirement.
· Allowing for a 75% reduction in certain types of impact fees depending on the district.
· Allowing rural accessory dwelling units in certain instances.
These is a great victory for the industry that has long advocated for the greater flexibility to incentivize ADUs.
Communication and Culture
Community Development and Marty Snell spearheaded a workshop on January 26 that numerous people from the BIA and industry attended along with staff and a couple Councilors to discuss improving communication between the County and the private sector. The feedback given by those that attended has been positive and barriers have been removed to help usher projects along.
Jim Tobin, NAHB’s chief lobbyist attended the government affairs committee meeting on February 12 remotely from Washington, D.C. to give an update on the tax reform bill and the implications for the housing industry. From NAHB’s perspective it appears that there were both some wins and losses, but overall the bill should be viewed as healthy for the industry. Included within this is that it preserves the mortgage interest deduction up to $750,000, while not impacting existing mortgages. There was some fear that the MID would be eliminated and thus reducing an incentive to own a home.
Building Industry Group PAC
The BIG PAC is busy planning the May auction and the legislative lunch. The PAC could really use donated items for the auction. If you have one please be sure to email Stephanie Frisch (PAC@BIAofClarkCounty.org).
Finally, it looks like the school bond measures in Evergreen and La Center were passing as of February 14, but Battle Ground was falling a couple percent short of the 60% needed.