Government Affairs Special Topics

Ryan Makinster

Ryan Makinster is the BIA’s Government Affairs Coordinator. Ryan has more than 18 years of non-profit administration, public relations, communications, and government relations experience. You can reach Ryan directly via email or call 360.694.0933.

Local Advocacy, Broad Impact

Over the past year the BIA has been active in many jurisdictions advocating for the home building industry, often without fanfare. We do this to support you, our members, the industry, the Southwest Washington economy and our community.

This advocacy is dependent on your support in time, testimony, resources and advocacy.  Without this we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did.

In May, Camas Community Development staff proposed an urban tree program that would have added substantial cost to home building in the city and in some cases impossible to comply with.  Although the process had been ongoing for two years, with as the staff claimed, input from the development sector, none of our members knew of it. The development sector they referred to was one large property owner that may some day be interested in developing their property, not any current developers or builders.

BIA staff along with Mike Odren, Olson Engineering, testified in opposition to the proposal as written, in addition to the process that created it. After getting the planning commission to delay its recommendation and working with the staff to address our concerns, a compromise was made to offer a plan that was substantially less onerous than the original to city council, which they adopted.  This serves as a model for future action, and a framework for addressing future Urban Tree Program proposals in other jurisdictions.

Last month, BIA rallied opposition to a School Impact Fee increase of over $4,000 per unit, a 56% increase. Although we were unable to stop all increases, we will now see a much smaller increase of 25% in the first year, with more reasonable smaller incremental increases or decreases based on real world cost indexes. This was achieved by builder members writing letters of opposition and showing up in person to testify.

Over the last year, BIA staff along with BIA members have been actively involved with implementing the Citygate Report findings are already seeing some positive change at the Clark County permit center. Also, the new rural tax lot permitting process, referred to in last month’s newsletter, is the culmination of almost 8 months of work. The new process, to be fully implemented over the next month, should provide for a more streamlined but informative process, so permits are processed quickly the first time and permittees and staff continually improve the system.

On the political front our members and the Building Industry Group (BIG) were strong advocates for our advocates, whether they were seeking re-election or looking to win the seat for the first time.  At this point, we can say that, overall, the candidates we supported were those that got elected.

Which brings me to an important point of note; you, through the BIG, played an instrumental part in this success. Many races were extremely close, and the independent expenditures we made were sure to have helped our endorsed candidates make it over the line.

For example, currently Eileen Quiring beat her opponent, Eric Holt by 1,567 votes out of 184,725, a slim margin. When you consider that we served 282,000 online ad impressions to 85,000 individual households in the district as well as 202,000 Facebook ads, it is likely that our name recognition campaign affected the race and may have been the difference between a win and a loss.  Other close races probably realized the same positive boost.

Looking forward we will be opposing fire sprinkler requirements in Ridgefield and will be reaching out to builders to once again rally the troops to help keep housing affordable.

Although we love to take credit for our successes, the real reason we inform you of these wins is to show that your support, your advocacy and your voice is important. Without you our industry would have had no voice and would have had the worst of these proposals become law.

If you aren’t, please consider becoming a BIG supporter or better yet, a trustee. Want to support our political action in another way? Attend the upcoming BIG Auction for Political Auction event on May 16 or go one step further and offer an auction item provided by you or a supplier. Just make the ask. Finally, become active, join a committee and when a request for action comes, stand up and make OUR voice heard.

Bills to Watch

As many of you are aware, there is a bill HB 1395 that propose to make direct contractors (those that have a contractual relationship with the end user) responsible for all wage obligation of subcontractors if they are fulfilling those obligations. In laymen’s terms, if your sub doesn’t pay the promised amount of wages, including benefits, to their employees you as the contractor are responsible.  There are so many problems with this bill that they are too numerous to mention, but know that BIA and BIAW are actively working on it.

We are also following a bill that would allow cases filed incorrectly under the Land Use Petition Act to proceed. Although we have used LUPA to protect our interests this change would allow anyone to file a petition and it to move forward, seriously lowering the bar for detrimental petitions to receive judicial review, adding cost to all land use decisions and ultimately the price of housing.

A graduated REET bill has also surfaced that would levy an incrementally greater REET on properties based on dollar value.  This would seriously affect land development and the real estate market, once again making the ability to transact business more onerous and costlier.

In addition, we are also following bills on short platting, universal healthcare, park maintenance impact fees, condo liability and over 100 more.

As these bills move, or don’t, through the legislature we will be following closely with the help of BIAW and will reach out to you when we need action such as letters and phone calls to legislators, individual impact statements to provide to legislators and in-person testimony. If you receive a call to action from us, please take a moment to make your voice heard.  We don’t ask these things lightly and when me do, we need you!

Please contact Ryan Makinster, 360.694.0933 or ryan@biaofclarkcounty.org for a copy of the current bills being tracked or to discuss individual bills important to you.