Washington State Legislative Session Update
The legislative session is now down to the final few weeks; lawmakers are turning their attention to the state budget, and we are watching closely. Neither proposal (House or Senate) includes a major tax increase, and both would slow the rate of budget growth.
E2SHB 1110 was approved by the Senate Ways & Means Committee last week on a tight 13 to 11 vote. The amendment as passed by the committee would require cities with a population of at least 25,000 but less than 75,000 to allow the development of at least two units per lot on all lots zoned for single-family residential use. The previous version of the bill was 4 units per single-family lot for those cities. Most of these cities already allow 2 units per lot and the bill allows an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to meet the requirement. The new bill also requires the development of at least 4 units per lot on all lots single-family zoned residential lots within one-quarter mile walking distance of a major transit stop; and the development of at least 4 units per lot on all single-family lots if at least one unit is affordable housing. HB 1110 is now on the Senate floor calendar awaiting to be put to a full vote of the Senate; the bill must advance out of the Senate by Wednesday. Middle housing is a priority for legislative Democrats and Governor Inslee so passage seems likely but has not been as easy as many had anticipated given the diverse impact on many cities. AWC participated in a press conference last week lending its support.
E2SSB 5536, concerning the State Supreme Court’s Blake decision and the possession of counterfeit drugs and controlled substances was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on a straight party-line vote. The House versions (both the Community Safety and Appropriations Committee striking amendments) of the bill classify the offense of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a counterfeit substance as misdemeanors, rather than gross misdemeanors as the bill that passed the Senate did. The House Appropriations Committee approved a new version of the bill that encourages prosecutors to divert applicable drug offenses for assessment, treatment, or other services through a recovery navigator program (RNP).
E2SSB 5536 has been referred to the House Rules Committee and we understand a new version is being worked on. It is expected the House will consider this next version when it’s put to a full vote on the House so as to address the diversion issues. A main difference between where the Senate and where the House bill is heading is possession being a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor.
Police Vehicular Pursuits
ESB 5352, permitting peace officers to engage in a vehicular pursuit only when there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a person in the vehicle has committed certain violent crimes received no action last week. The current law is “probable cause” for a lesser number of crimes. ESB 5352 remains in the House Rules Committee since March 29. One issue that seemingly has the bill high-centered is whether to include police pursuits for property crimes and, within that especially, auto theft. However, there seems to be enough opposition in the D caucus to this approach to make it tenuous for the Speaker to bring it to the floor for a full vote.
Update: The proposed measure passed the House chamber with a 57-40 vote in the early morning hours Tuesday, April 11th. The bill will now return to the Senate.
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