Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been extremely busy under the dome here in Olympia. During the last few weeks, most of our time has taken place in the committees we serve, hearing the various policies that have been proposed this session.
We reached our first major deadline – policy cutoff. With the over 2,000 bills introduced this session, most of them are now “dead,” and will not see any further action. Some bad bills died, but also some good ones.
In this legislative update, I'll provide you with a quick review of the bills I've been working on, their status, and some things to keep on your radar. For a brief video overview of this update, please watch the latest edition of the Barkis Breakdown. You may do so by clicking on the photo below.
Housing affordability update | Eviction prevention package
In late January, I introduced a package of bills to bring reform to current landlord-tenant laws. Unfortunately, my bills were collateral damage in the pile of bills that died.
It's important to remember that just because the majority party has the political capital on the Hill, it doesn't mean good policy is on the table and now moving forward. My caucus and I are working with our colleagues across the aisle, trying to collaborate on common-sense solutions. It's not easy when they have the votes to push through whatever policy they want. At the present time, most of the policy on the housing affordability issue has been more one-sided than we'd like. I will continue to work toward and support the policies that are the right choice and provide the needed balance for both landlords and tenants.
Housing affordability update | Good legislation moving forward
My colleague, Rep. Chris Gildon, has introduced legislation based on a recent study conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to analyze the development costs associated with low-income housing. I'm happy to co-sponsor this policy.
The JLARC study resulted in three key recommendations:
- The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) should identify and evaluate options for increasing the involvement of for-profit developers and report findings.
- The Department of Commerce should collect final development cost data from the Housing Trust Fund recipients to improve cost controls.
- Both WSHFC and the Department of Commerce should report development cost data to the Legislature annually.
House Bill 2010 would direct the WSHFC to research and evaluate options to increase participation of for-profit developers in the Commission's nine percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC), which provides tax incentives to builders of affordable multifamily housing. In the study, JLARC found that for-profit developers could develop the same unit for 13 percent less than non-profit builders, and 22 percent less than governmental agencies. However, for-profit builders have not participated in the LIHTC since 2013.
I've also co-sponsored a bipartisan bill encouraging the development and placement of accessory dwelling units (ADU) in areas zoned for single-family residential use. This is one of the most progressive ADU bills ever proposed in Washington state, and across the country.
I'm still fighting hard to find and support common-sense solutions. I'll keep you updated on the progress of these bills.
2nd District town hall meeting
Rep. J.T. Wilcox and I are in the process of planning a town hall event in-district in mid-March. Please stay tuned to these legislative updates for the details.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office at any time.
It's an honor to serve you.