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Legislative Wrap-Up

Welcome to the penultimate GSI Legislative Update for 2022. In this edition: our legislative policy wrap up. More coming soon featuring budget highlights and a deep dive into some of the larger policy pieces from this legislative session.

As always, for more information contact Jake Mayson, Director of Public Policy, and for more details about any of the bills in this article, visit the Washington State Legislature page to search by bill number. 

At 11:35 pm on Thursday, March 10, the 67th biennium of the Washington State Legislature came to a close. This session began in the darkness of the Omicron surge and ended in optimism 25 minutes before the expiration of Washington’s indoor mask mandate. And yet, this session bore many of the same COVID-19 restrictions as the last session, most notably the closure of offices to constituents and lobbyists wishing to meet with members and staff in person.

Majority Democrats came to Olympia this year with two high-profile priorities at the top of their list, fixes to the long-term care program and to police reforms passed last session. Both topics were addressed in short order. Additionally, for the second year in a row, leadership asked members to introduce no more than seven new bills and chairs to limit the number of bills passed out of committee to ease the burden of a mostly virtual session. Democratic Leadership also requested members limit the focus of their bills to “Serve Washingtonians Better, Strengthen Economic Well-Being, Advance Racial Equality and Justice, and Address the Climate Crisis” In the 2019/20 biennium, legislators introduced 2,408 bills and passed 868. In the 2021/22 biennium, legislators introduced 1,559 bills and passed 307 bills.

The narrowed policy focus again paid off, with Majority of Democrats checking off many of the items on their to-do list. For the most part, the bills passed in the second year of the biennium, the short session, are less bold than the major laws passed in the first year, the long session. The second-year is also a major election year with the entire House and half the Senate appearing on the ballot. What follows are some of the more notable bills that will become law in 2022.

Business & Labor

1732 (Sullivan, D-47) – Delays the start date for the premium assessments under the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program (LTSS Trust Program) from January 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023. Delays the date benefits become available under the LTSS Trust Program from January 1, 2025 to July 1, 2026. Allows individuals born before January 1, 1968, who do not meet the LTSS Trust Program’s vesting requirements, to receive partial benefits based on the number of years of premium payments. Requires employers to refund employees any LTSS Trust premiums collected before July 1, 2023.

1733 (Paul, D-10) – Establishes exemptions from the payment of premiums under the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program for certain veterans, spouses and registered domestic partners of military service members, nonimmigrant temporary workers, and employees who work in Washington and maintain a primary residence outside of Washington.

5564 (Keiser, D-33) – Prohibits employers from obtaining individually identifiable information regarding an employee’s participation in an employee assistance program.

5763 (Randall, D-26) – Repeals the statute allowing the Department of Labor and Industries to issue special certificates for the employment of individuals with disabilities at wages lower than the applicable prevailing wage rate.

2019 (Boehnke, R-8) – Requires the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board), with certain stakeholders, to identify certain skills and educational needs and gaps for retail workers. Requires the Workforce Board and certain stakeholders to make recommendations to the Legislature on developing credentials, and creating educational and career opportunities, for retail workers. Requires the Workforce Board to submit reports to the Legislature.

Education

1878 (Riccelli, D-3) – Expands the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) mandatory participation requirements to all public schools with an identified student percentage of 40 percent, or lower if permitted by federal law. Requires school districts, to the extent practicable, to group schools for the purpose of maximizing the number of schools eligible to participate in the CEP. Includes a null and void clause if funding for the bill is not provided in the state budget.

5933 (Frockt, D-46) – Establishes a school seismic safety grant program for school districts and state-tribal compact schools for remediation of seismic or tsunami hazards in qualifying buildings. Requires qualifying buildings to be located in high seismic hazard areas and must have been built prior to 1998 and has not received a seismic retrofit to 2005 seismic standards.

5789 (Randall, D-26) -Creates the Washington Career and College Pathways Innovation Challenge Program (program) to award grants to local and regional entities for programs with the objective of meeting state educational attainment goals. Directs the Student Achievement Council (Council) to administer the program based on a competitive grant process. Permits the Council to solicit and receive gifts, grants, and endowments from public or private sources in support of the program. Repeals and modifies parts of the Washington Fund for Innovation and Quality

1664 (Rule, D-42) – Increases minimum allocations for nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors in the prototypical school funding model over three school years. Designates certain staff positions as “physical, social, and emotional support staff” (PSES staff) and specifies that the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) may only allocate funding to the extent of and proportionate to a school district’s demonstrated actual ratios of PSES staff. Requires that funding for PSES staff be prioritized to staff with a valid educational staff associate certificate. Requires the SPI to submit to the Legislature four biennial implementation reports.

Energy

5678 (Short, R-7) – Allows an investor-owned utility to petition the Utilities and Transportation Commission for a declaratory order to determine whether an energy transformation project, non-emitting electric generation project, or renewable resource project meets the requirements of the Clean Energy Transformation Act standards.

1723 (D-Gregerson, 33) – Requires the State Broadband Office to develop a state digital equity plan and provide a report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 1, 2023, that includes the state digital equity plan and certain related information. Makes modifications to the Community Technology Opportunity Program, including renaming it the Digital Equity Opportunity Program and redefining its purpose to be the advancement of broadband adoption and digital equity. Establishes the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program to provide grants to local governments, institutions of higher education, workforce development councils, or other entities to fund the development of a digital equity plan for a discrete geographic region of the state. Codifies the Digital Equity Forum (Forum) and adds a provision allowing funds to be used to compensate, for any work done in connection with the Forum, additional persons with lived experience navigating barriers to digital connectivity.

1812 (Fitzgibbon, D-34) – Establishes the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) as an independent agency separate from the Utilities and Transportation Commission. Creates an Account for EFSEC-related expenditures and deposits. Authorizes clean energy product manufacturing facilities, storage facilities, renewable natural gas facilities, and renewable or green electrolytic hydrogen facilities to opt into the EFSEC siting process. Adds requirements for notifying and consulting with federally recognized tribes. Adds a public comment period and other engagement requirements to the EFSEC site application review process. Clarifies authorities to the EFSEC, including ongoing regulatory oversight. Directs the Department of Commerce to conduct rural stakeholder meetings and complete interim and final reports, by December 1, 2022, and December 1, 2023, to include recommendations for how to more equitably distribute costs and benefits of energy projects to rural communities. Directs the legislative Joint Committee on Energy Supply and Energy Conservation to review several issues, including inequities where large alternative energy projects have been and are forecast to be sited, and report findings and any recommendations by December 1, 2023.

1673 (Ryu, D-32) – Modifies certain application and public notice requirements for the Public Works Board’s broadband grant and loan program (Broadband Program). Creates a pre-application process for the Broadband Program. Eliminates a Broadband Program requirement for a Utilities and Transportation Commission consultation and technical feasibility study. Allows the Public Works Board to make low-interest or interest-free loans or grants for emergency public works broadband projects. Exempts from public disclosure financial and commercial information and records supplied by businesses or individuals during the application process for Broadband Program.

1846 (Berg, D-44) – Expands and extends the existing sales and use tax exemption for data centers in rural counties. Establishes a sales and use tax exemption for the purchase of eligible server equipment, and related labor and services, for eligible data centers in counties with a population over 800,000. Requires a qualifying business operating a new data center to attain a specified sustainable design or green building standard certification within three years after being placed in service. Requires data centers receiving an exemption to be developed under a community workforce agreement or project labor agreement, for new construction work performed on computer data center site.

1988 (Shewmake, D-42) – Establishes a retail sales and use tax deferral program for certain investment projects in clean technology manufacturing, clean alternative fuels production, and renewable energy storage. Reduces the amount of state sales and use tax that must be repaid by eligible projects if the recipient complies with specified labor standards.

Growth Management and Government

5593 (Short, R-7) – Allows a county to make revisions to an urban growth area boundary to accommodate patterns of development under certain conditions. Provides that any revision to an urban growth area boundary cannot increase the total surface area of the urban growth area, and that any areas removed from the urban growth area cannot have been characterized by urban growth.

Healthcare

5518 (Muzzall, R-10) – Adopts the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact to allow occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to practice occupational therapy in other member states.

1286 (Chambers, R-25) – Adopts the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact to allow professionals who are licensed in a compact state to provide psychological services through the use of telecommunication technologies and temporary in-person practice.

1866 (Chopp, D-43) – Establishes the Apple Health and Homes Program (Program) to provide a permanent supportive housing benefit and a community support services benefit to persons who meet eligibility criteria related to income, medical risk factors and barriers to finding stable housing. Establishes the Office of Apple Health and Homes (Office) within the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to fund permanent supportive housing units to fulfill the needs of persons enrolled in the Program. Establishes the Apple Health and Homes Account to be used for permanent supportive housing programs administered by the Office.

Homelessness

2061 (Ormsby, D-3) – Clarifies that “public improvements” for the purposes of community revitalization financing include permanently affordable housing.

5853 (Billig, D-3) – Authorizes the Washington State Department of Transportation to lease property purchased as part of the Interstate 90 Corridor and the US 395 North Spokane Corridor projects at less than fair market rent to a community-based nonprofit corporation or the Department of Commerce to remedy past impacts to historically marginalized populations.

5868 (Hawkins, R-12) – Expands the use of the rural county public facilities sales and use tax to include affordable workforce housing.

Policing

1719 (Bronoske, D-28) – Removes the prohibition on the use and acquisition of ammunition of .50 caliber or greater by law enforcement agencies. Narrows the prohibition on the use and acquisition firearms of .50 caliber by law enforcement agencies to apply only to rifles of .50 caliber or greater.

1735 (Johnson, D-30) – Expands the authority for a peace officer to use physical force, subject to the requirement to exercise reasonable care, in additional specific circumstances. Modifies the requirement to exercise reasonable care before using force, including defining “de-escalation tactics” and clarifying when de-escalation tactics and less lethal alternatives must be used by a peace officer before using physical or deadly force. Provides that the standard for use of force by peace officers does not limit or restrict a peace officer’s authority or responsibility to perform lifesaving measures or perform community caretaking functions to protect health and safety, and does not prevent a peace officer from responding to requests for assistance or service by specified individuals and members of the public.

2037 (Goodman, D-45) – Modifies the standard for the use of physical force by peace officers. Defines physical force.

Tax Policy

5901 (Randall, D-26) – Creates a sales and use tax deferral and forgiveness program for the expansion of manufacturing, research and development, commercial testing, and vegetable seed conditioning in smaller counties. Expands a warehousing and grain elevator tax rebate program.

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