Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone.
Several long-time lobbyists have commented that this legislative session feels busier than other “short” sessions in recent history. Combine the remote requirements with the sheer volume of bills both introduced and being heard, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed fast. As of Thursday, day 4 of the legislative session, House members have introduced 397 bills (compared to 588 total last year), while the Senate is already up to 373 (compared to the previous year’s 487). According to the company that runs our bill tracking system, five states account for more than 50% of the over 6,800 bills introduced so far in 2022. Washington alone accounts for 8% of all bills filed nationwide.
Of those bills, several scheduled for a hearing next week will be of interest to Washington’s counties, and many relate to money. Unfortunately, we are still awaiting fiscal notes for most of them, so it’s difficult to gauge their true impact. The Department of Commerce houses the local government fiscal note program, and it’s one of the busiest. While their turnaround time is just a matter of days, with the speed of the session, the notes often come at the last minute or even after the hearing. Here are a few we’ll be watching out for next week:
HB 1672 would remove a conservation futures district property tax levy from the 1% levy growth limit. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Finance Committee next Tuesday.
The House Finance Committee will hear HB 1819 on Thursday. The bill, and its related joint resolution, which is necessary for the requisite constitutional amendment, would raise the exemption for personal property from $15,000 to $100,000. That’s no small jump, and it could have significant ramifications. The National Federation of Independent Businesses reached out to discuss potential mitigations but has been waiting weeks for figures from the Department of Revenue.
HB 1921 provides an interesting alternative taxation method for counties siting wind or solar electricity facilities. Counties would have the option to enter into a 10-year agreement with the company to pay a “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILT) at a flat rate per megawatt of nameplate capacity rather than the current method for depreciating personal property. It also creates a cost-based approach for assessing value. The bill needs clarifying to be certain it applies only to personal property and not the real property on which it sits. This bill is scheduled for hearing in House Finance on Tuesday, as well.
Finally, SB 5796 purports to restructure cannabis revenue appropriations. Among other things, the bill changes the distribution to cities and counties from the current $20 million per fiscal year to $27.8 million. As drafted, it’s not one hundred percent clear the $27.8 million is an annual figure, but it appears to be. The Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee will hear the bill on Wednesday.