The following article was compiled by the Lens staff.
This week, the Lens staff would like to present “Lens LegiTrack.” It will be a series of weekly posts tracking legislation important to the business community as it moves out of committee or floor session. It provides readers a quicker, more concise way to stay updated on bill movement. Below is a collection of bills Lens has previously reported on, organized in order of most recent update. Each entry will list the bill number followed by the prime sponsor’s last name in parenthesis.
Check back every week for new updates!
Bills Clearing State House or Senate
Municipal General Business Licensing
–SB 5777 (Brown) would simplify municipal general business licenses by requiring cities to transition to a uniform, online distribution system. Read More. On Friday, March 3, the bill was approved by the State Senate in an unanimous vote, with five senators excused.
Regulatory Fairness Act
Municipal General Business Licensing
–HB 2005 (Lytton) would accomplish the same as SB 5777 (listed above), but under an implementation timeline of 10 years instead of five. Read More. The bipartisan measure cleared the House floor on Thursday, March 2, in a 96-2 vote.
Natural Resource Sector Workforce Analysis
–SB 5285 (Wilson) would require a workforce study of agriculture, natural resource, environmental, and outdoor recreation sectors to determine how educators can better prepare students to take on skilled job shortages in those industries. Read More. On Wednesday, March 1, the bill was voted out of the State Senate in an unanimous vote, and has since been referred to House Higher Education.
Forestry Thinning Projects
–HB 1924 (Dent) would amend existing state law to make it easier and less costly for small private foresters to carry out mechanical thinning projects and then burn the wildfire-prone debris on their land. Read more. It was unanimously approved by the State Senate on Thursday, March 2.
Electing Sound Transit Board Members
–SB 5001 (O’Ban) would have Sound Transit Board members directly elected, starting in 2018. Read more. On Wednesday, March 1, the Republican-sponsored bill passed the State Senate with a 29-20 vote and was referred to the House Transportation Committee.
Forestland Treatment Planning
–SB 5546 (Hawkins) directs the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to prioritize and plan for forestlands in need of treatment, with the goal of finishing the work by 2033. Read more. It was unanimously approved by the State Senate on Wednesday, March 1 and is now in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
“Hirst” Rural Development Fix
–SB 5239 (Warnick) would work to address the October 2016 Supreme Court “Hirst” decision by allowing counties to once again rely on Ecology standards for protecting groundwater. Read More. On Tuesday, February 28, the bipartisan measure cleared the State House in a 28-21 vote.
Stopping Dam Breaches
–SJM 8004 (Sheldon) calls on President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Congress, the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and the Army Corps of Engineers to stop the breaching of any dams in the Columbia River system. Read more. The bipartisan legislation was approved 26-23 by the State Senate on Tuesday, February 28 and referred to the House Technology and Economic Development Committee.
Increasing Wildfire Suppression Contractors
–HB 1489 (Kretz) would enlarge DNR’s master list of certified wildfire suppression private contractors and equipment owners through greater pre-season outreach. It also explicitly allows DNR to utilize private contractors not included on the master list, if needed to combat wildfires. Read more. It unanimously passed in the State House on Monday, February 27 and is now in the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.
Bi-State Bridge Development
–SB 5806 (Cleveland) would create a new joint bi-state committee to discuss development plans for new bi-state bridge from Vancouver to Portland. Read more. On Monday, February 27, the bipartisan bill passed the State Senate with a 45-4 majority, and is scheduled for a March 9 public hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
Bills Clearing Committee
Skilled Worker Training Programs
–SB 5713 (Palumbo) would create the Skilled Worker Outreach, Recruitment, and Key Training program, which would expand skilled worker training programs and increase interest in working jobs in high-demand fields. Read More. Since its passage from Senate Ways and Means to Rules on Friday, February 24 with bipartisan support, the legislation has been placed for second reading in Rules on Thursday, March 2.
Statewide Ridesharing Regulations
–SB 5260 (King) would create statewide, uniform regulations for transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, operating within multiple cities. Read More. On Wednesday, March 1, the bipartisan measure was placed for a second reading in Rules.
Higher Ed Infrastructure
–SB 5684 (Wilson) would give employers a larger say in which higher ed projects should receive capital budget funding and would best prepare students to meet job demands. Read More. On Friday, February 24, the bill was voted out of Senate Ways and Means with bipartisan sponsorship and sent to Rules.