2024 Week 4 Legislative Update

Posted By: Ryan Makinster Advocacy News,

Week four, and policy committee cutoff is behind us. Also another successful day on the hill with over 150 members joining us to educate legislators on our industry and how proposed legislation will affect our ability to provide housing to Washingtonians.

Good news is that SB 5961, the Senate version of rent stabilization died in committee.  A round of thanks should go to Senator Annette Cleveland who after consulting with multiple economists, agreed that the bill would harm our shared goal of increasing housing supply (the Department of Commerce says we need 1.2 million new housing units over the next 20 years). The house version of rent stabilization HB 2114 is still alive and scheduled for an executive session in (H) Appropriations tomorrow at 9:00am, but it has a difficult road ahead especially in the Senate. The pet deposit and rent bill, SB 6064, which would have capped pet deposit at $150 dollars and prohibited pet fees or rents also died in committee this week. We appreciate the bill sponsor Sen. Drew Hansen who has taken our concerns into account and has committed to working with us on this issue during the interim.

Unfortunately, Sen. Kuderer’s B & O tax bill, SB 6136, which would levy a 1.5% - 1.75% tax on our industry, is still alive, being referred to Senate Ways and Means on Jan 24, although it still has not been scheduled for a hearing.  The real estate transfer tax (RETT) bill, SB 6191 is also still in motion, but hasn’t been scheduled for further hearings in the Ways and Means committee yet. Although WMFHA isn’t taking the lead in opposition to this bill, WMFHA, along with a number of other stakeholders have engaged in a full campaign to educate the public and legislators on the harms this bill will have on the state’s economy and our ability to provide affordable housing.

Senator Mark Mullet’s unlawful detainer reform bill, SB 6210, which would have been amended to only increase funding for hearings commissioners while creating enabling language to add more commissioners died in Sen. Kuderer’s Senate Housing Committee, although it garnered wide support including judges, the state and local bar associations, and some tenant advocates.

Now that policy committee cutoff has come and gone, things can move very rapidly for the remaining bills. We will continue our weekly updates, but please be on the lookout for action alerts and updates as we race towards Sine Die on March 7 at midnight.