Right Now in Climate Change
Below are short descriptions of the legislative bills we are following that address climate change. The status represents what we know as of Friday afternoon. We cannot follow all bills, so we follow the bills most closely aligned with the League’s policy positions. For more information, follow the links in the bill numbers to the legislative website. From there, scroll down the page to Available Documents and Bill Reports where you can read plain language descriptions of the bill contents and intentions.
The Energy Issue Web Page lists other bills related to climate.
Bills That Need Action This Week
SB 5126 Washington Climate Commitment Act. Creates a cap and trade and invest program on greenhouse gas emissions with an environmental justice task force to ensure equity in implementation. During the public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology on January 19, environmental justice organizations objected to the market-based approach that also includes exemptions and offsets, and therefore may not reduce pollution and carbon sufficiently, but just move it to communities with lower incomes and lower political influence. The bill sponsors expect to prepare a substitute bill that addresses these objections. Designing a price-on-carbon system has proven challenging. This bill anticipates substantial revenue and expense to the state, so it is considered necessary to pass the budget, therefore is not subject to the cutoff rules of some other bills.
This and SB 5373 represent different approaches to implementing a price on carbon and directing that revenue to value-added investment. They each have benefits and challenges, but we think it is time for implementing a price on carbon, so we are prepared to support either bill.
On February 25 the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology voted 7-5 to pass this bill and referred it to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The substitute bill adds an environmental justice review every two years by the Department of Ecology to ensure overburdened communities experience relief from air pollution, plus an environmental justice assessment, an environmental justice and equity panel, and tribal consultation to address some of the objections to the original bill.
It had a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on March 15, and a second substitute bill passed 13 to 12 on March 22. That version was amended on the Senate floor and was passed 25 to 24. The House is expected to amend it further, and those changes will require concurrence. Based on existing League positions we will remain in support acknowledging that some amendments have improved, others have weakened effectiveness, and the complexity has increased.
Action Alert It had a hearing in the House Environment and Energy Committee on April 14 and passed the committee 7 to 6 on April 16 following a 5-hour executive session. If it passes it will have a hearing in the Appropriations Committee on April 19 at 9:00 a.m., followed by a vote on April 20 at 9:00 a.m. Sign in pro here.
SB 5192 Supporting access to electric vehicle supply equipment, to increase public access to electric vehicle charging stations and standardize the features.
Action Alert This bill passed the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on March 18 and passed the Senate floor vote 35 to 14. It is scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations on April 19 at 9:00 and a vote there on April 20 at 9:00 am. Sign in pro here.
Bills the League Supports
HB 1577 Creating a tax and a temporary bond program to fund transportation investments and projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This late-breaking bill has similar features to SB 5373 (listed below). If it proceeds, the House Environment & Energy Committee will hear it first.
HB 1050 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from hydrofluorocarbons. Many of the working fluids in our air conditioning and heat pump systems are far more powerful greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Hydrofluorocarbons are a powerful greenhouse gas that replaced chlorofluorocarbons to preserve the protective ozone layer of upper atmosphere. We must now enable replacement and control of hydrofluorocarbons as we invest in clean energy sources and in systems that need such working fluids. Passed the House Committee on Environment and Energy on an 8-5 party-line vote, and the Appropriations Committee on a 19-14 vote. The bill passed the House floor vote 56-40.
Another substitute bill, offered by the Senate, passed the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology. The Senate substitute makes additional adjustments for specific applications and effective dates, as described in a bill report. It passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee 16-9 on April 2.
Status It passed the Senate 30 to 19 and the House concurred with the Senate’s amendments. The next step is the governor’s signature.
HB 1287 Preparedness for a zero emissions transportation future. This bill requires the Department of Commerce to develop and maintain publicly available information and locations of vehicle charging and refueling infrastructure. Requires utilities to plan for and additional building codes to support the anticipated increase in zero-emission vehicles. Passed in the House Committee on Environment and Energy 8-5, and the House Committee on Transportation 17-12. The bill as amended passed the House 65-31, passed the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology, then was amended to include requirements from HB 1204 for light vehicle electrification by 2030.
Status The amended bill passed the Senate 54 to 43, and the House concurred with the Senate amendments. The next step is the governor’s signature.
SB 5373 The Washington STRONG Act authorizes nearly $5 billion of green bonds to invest in infrastructure and mitigation to reduce climate change and transition to a clean economy. The bonds would be paid with a price on carbon, which would also fund some of the infrastructure. Using bonds will enable investments to begin soon. Revenue beyond that required to pay off the bonds will be used on additional climate-mitigating investments for a total of about $16 billion. Part of this revenue will fund transportation state needs. A public hearing occurred in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology on March 4. It has not moved since then. As this bill is considered necessary to pass the budget, it is not subject to the cutoff calendar, but it will likely not proceed this session.
HB 1091 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the carbon intensity of transportation fuel. This is a new version of the clean fuels bill that failed to achieve passage in the past two sessions. The intent is to reduce greenhouse gas release from the fuels we will continue to use, to improve the air quality by reducing pollution, and to ensure Washington has the incentive to create a clean fuel industry. Fuels that achieve carbon reductions in addition to the requirements generate tradable credits. We think this bill represents an important step in achieving Washington’s decarbonization goals.
A public hearing occurred in the House Committee on Appropriations on February 4 with both pro and con testimony represented. The fuel price increases were the most frequently voiced concerns. Proponents testified that California and Oregon have not experienced significant fuel price increases under similar regulation, and this is an important feature in our drive toward zero carbon energy by 2050. Opponents testified that clean fuel bills in those states have increased fuel prices substantially and did not significantly increase their in-state clean fuel industry. It passed the House on a 52 to 46 vote with amendments requiring additional reporting on progress and results from the Department of Ecology and Washington State University. The bill had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology on March 10 where pro and con testimony repeated previous values and concerns. It passed the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology at 7-6 on March 16 and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means 15 to 10. Senate amendments added off-ramps that could reduce effectiveness of the implementation.
HB 1280 Greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the design of public facilities. Sets requirements for all-electric and clean-energy systems in new and newly leased publicly owned buildings be considered using life-cycle cost analysis. This bill passed in the House Committee on Environment, and Energy, 8-5. It passed the House Committee on Capital Budget on a 12-11 vote, then passed on the House floor 57-39, so significant opposition remains. Status A public hearing was held in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy, and Technology, and on March 23 it passed 8-5. It is now in the Senate floor calendar for a vote.
SB 5141 Implementing the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force, also known as the HEAL Act, would implement the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force, including equitable engagement with communities primarily affected by environmental hazards to create solutions that meet their needs. The bill also establishes the environmental justice council to review existing laws and propose new laws that heal the environment where it is most needed. Amendments have reduced some of the originally drafted oversight requirements. It passed the Senate 28-21. This bill had a hearing in the House Committee on Environment, and Energy March 12 and an amended version passed 8-5 on March 25. The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on March 30 and passed that committee 19 to 14.
Status It passed the House floor vote 56 to 41, but the amendments will need concurrence by the Senate. This bill is also tracked on the Social Justice Issue Web Page.
Growth Management Act (GMA) Bills
The League of Women Voters at all levels considers climate change a threat to equity and democracy, therefore—based on the best available information and expert opinion—we testified for and promoted bills that reduce and mitigate climate change including those that require additional attention to housing so that there is no anticipation of expanding residential areas outside the urban growth areas. Of all the GMA bills that were introduced and that we supported, only one passed this session, HB 1220, described below.
GMA Bill HB 1220 Supporting emergency shelters and housing through local planning and development regulations, would modify the Growth Management Act to specify that special consideration for low, very low, extremely low, and moderate-income households must be incorporated in the housing element of comprehensive plans.
Passed! This bill passed the House 57-39, and passed the Senate 25-24 on April 10. On April 14, the House voted 57-40 to concur with the Senate amendments.
Bills the League Supports That Missed the Cutoff
HB 1075 Reducing emissions from vehicles associated with on-demand transportation services. This bill establishes processes for determining the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of commercial transportation service providers and to plan meeting GHG reduction targets. The House Committee on Environment, and Energy introduced a substitute bill and passed it on Jan. 26. It was referred to the Appropriations Committee where it passed by a vote of 19-14 on Feb. 16. The bill was returned to the rules committee, so appears to have failed this session.
HB 1084 Reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by achieving greater decarbonization of residential and commercial buildings. Carbon dioxide released from fuel used in buildings is a large part of our total state release of our greenhouse gases. Ensuring we begin reducing this source requires an early start to retrofitting heating and other existing systems and installing low carbon systems in new buildings. To achieve the 2050 climate goals, we must avoid stranding investments in current technologies as we construct new buildings and reduce the on-going carbon footprint in existing buildings. The House Committee on Environment and Energy passed the bill on Feb. 9 and referred it to the House Appropriations Committee, which took no action.
HB 1099 Improving the state’s climate response through updates to the state’s comprehensive planning framework. This bill would require local governments to plan for mitigation of climate change and how they will aid in achieving the state’s greenhouse gas reduction levels. The substitute bill changed a number of elements among the mandates, which makes the bill more stringent; but it also adds a provision that the requirements do not apply if there is not an appropriation to support local jurisdictions in meeting the bill’s mandates. Having passed the House and two other committees in the Senate, this bill did not get passed from the Senate Transportation Committee by the cutoff date.
GMA Bill HB 1117 Promoting salmon recovery through revisions to the state’s comprehensive planning network. It would require that salmon be included in front-end planning undertaken under the Growth Management Act. It defines compensatory mitigation and net ecological gain as measures of salmon protection and mandates that these be covered in land use, critical areas and transportation plans as of January 2024.
Status This bill passed the House and passed both the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee and the Ways and Means Committees. It is now in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 1157 Increasing housing supply through the Growth Management Act and housing density tax incentives for local governments, would amend the elements of a comprehensive plan to ensure consideration of multifamily housing units and housing targets, increase urban densities within urban growth areas in buildable land areas to six net dwelling units per acre and create real estate excise tax density incentive zones within Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) in buildable lands areas.
Status HB 1157 passed the House on March 28. It had a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on April 5. This bill was scheduled for executive session in the Ways and Means Committee on April 10 but no action was taken.
HB 1204 Electrification of transportation. This bill calls for the Washington State Transportation Commission to prepare a plan to enable all light-duty and passenger vehicles sold in Washington by 2030 to be electric vehicles, and to make this a just transition for those impacted. No further action is scheduled, however the objectives for vehicle electrification were incorporated into HB 1287 by amendment.
HB 1241 Relating to planning under the Growth Management Act, would require annual implementation plans after 2024 for addressing GMA requirements. It would also require the Department of Commerce to provide rules for indicators, measures, milestones, and criteria for use by counties and cities in the implementation progress report. These requirements are intended to support the many changes in the Growth Management Act that are currently anticipated, some of which are very complex.
Status This bill passed the House and passed both the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee and Ways & Means Committee. It is now in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 1537 Terminating certain tax preferences for fossil fuel products. The language adjusts the use tax on natural gas, exempting renewable gas and some transportation uses. The bill is estimated to add almost $14 million to the general fund for the 2021-2023 biennium. It was revived as Necessary to Implement the Budget and had a hearing in the House Finance Committee on March 23, but no further action is scheduled at this writing.
SB 5042 Concerning the effective date of certain actions taken under the Growth Management Act. This bill would mandate effective dates of various comp plan designations to a minimum of 60 days past the plan publication date or issuance of a Growth Management Hearings Board final order, whichever is later. This bill was passed out of the Senate Housing and Local Government on January 28, but the Senate Rules Committee did not send it to the floor for a vote.
SB 5312 Facilitating transit-oriented development and increasing housing inventory, would amend the Growth Management Act to expand the grants to local government for transit-oriented development planning.
Status This bill passed the Senate on a 44-3 vote and passed both the House Environment and Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. It has now been referred to the House Rules Committee.
SB 5390 Increasing housing supply through the Growth Management Act and housing density tax incentives for local governments, would amend the elements of a comprehensive plan to ensure consideration of multifamily housing units and housing targets, increase urban densities within urban growth areas in buildable land areas to six net dwelling units per acre and create real estate excise tax density incentive zones within Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) in buildable lands areas. This bill had a public hearing in the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee on February 9 and had an executive session on February 11 where it passed 8-1 and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. It did not survive the cutoff and will not proceed this year.
SB 5428 Concerning the application of the state environmental policy act to temporary shelters and transitional encampments would waive the State Environmental Policy Act requirements for organized shelters and encampments serving people experiencing homelessness if they are temporary, less than three years. This bill passed the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee on February 11 but was not pulled out of the Rules Committee.
How To Be Involved