Five housing bills made the Friday deadline to get voted on in their second house, with two now headed to the governor’s desk, and three going back to their original house to try to get agreement on final language. Unfortunately, Sen. Joe Fain’s (R – Auburn) housing preservation bill, 2nd Substitute Senate Bill 6239, did not make it.
Details of how 2SSB 6239 died were covered by Josh Feit at Publicola, so I won’t rehash his narrative.
The killing of 2SSB 6239 may turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for opponents of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. To make up for all the affordable housing that could have been preserved through that bill, housing advocates may now double down on pushing to get rid of more single-family housing zoning.
Another irony is that for those who like to punch developers in the face (metaphorically speaking), killing 2SSB 6239 did nothing of the sort. It was a bill to reward owners of multi-family housing for keeping it the way it is, but just make sure at least 25% of the units are set aside for low-income renters with a cap on the rent. It would have been an incentive to not sell to developers or redevelop. We could argue whether 25% was high enough (and I, for one, would have liked to see the number higher), but the one-dimensional argument was simply against landlords making a profit at taxpayer expense.
But enough about 2SSB 6239. It’s dead. Let’s look at the bills that will probably become law.
HB 2929, by Rep. Kevin Parker (R – Spokane), would require a liberal and non-retroactive interpretation of the State Building Code and the Washington State Energy Code, in the case of religious institutions housing homeless people, to err on the side of providing shelter. It would also ban cities and counties from retroactively requiring sprinkler system or other structural modification requirements in buildings that complied with the laws at the time they were built, or rescinding a building’s certificate of occupancy. This is in response to various efforts to block homeless encampments on, and shelters in, church properties.
HB 2929 passed 96-0-0-1 in the House on February 11 and 48-0-0-1 in the Senate Friday. It is headed to the governor’s desk. Not a single legislator took the side of letting NIMBYs tell religious institutions what they can do on their own property. This may be the single most impactful bill this session in providing human beings with a roof of some sort to live under.
SHB 2971, originally by Rep. Joan McBride (D – Kirkland), and amended on the House floor, would adjust the list of actions a city or county could take that would disqualify it from using Real Estate Excise Taxes. The Low Income Housing Institute has been watching the bill closely to see that tenant protections are not added to the list of proscribed local ordinances.
SHB 2971 passed 96-2-0-0 in the House last Tuesday.
The bill passed out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 29 as a striker amendment. The amendment modifies the date after which enactment by a city or county of a requirement on landlords, at the time of executing a lease, to perform or provide physical improvements or modifications to real property or fixtures disqualifies the city or county from using REET revenues for maintenance of capital projects or authorized purposes. The date is changed from after September 26, 2015, to after the effective date of the bill.
The bill, in its amended form, passed 48-0-0-1 in the Senate on March 2. It goes back to the House for possible concurrence in the amendment.
Subsitute Senate Bill 6211, originally by Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R – Puyallup), and amended by the Senate Ways & Means Committee, would exempt properties owned by non-profits from property taxes for the purpose of building and selling affordable housing (for households less than 80% of the median household income in that county), provided that the nonprofit entity sold at least one residence to a low-income household within ten years preceding the submission of an application for this exemption.
The exemption would expire after seven years, or when the property is transferred. If the nonprofit believes that the title will not be transferred by the end of the sixth consecutive property tax year, the entity could claim a three-year extension by filing a notice with the Department of Revenue and providing a filing fee.
If the title has not been transferred within seven years and an extension has not been granted, the property would be disqualified from exemption, and back taxes would be collected.
SSB 6211 passed in the Senate 46-3-0-0 on February 10. It passed out of the House Finance Committee on February 29 as a striker amendment, adding to the information that nonprofit developers must provide to the Department of Revenue, so that the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee can review the effectiveness of the program.
The bill, in its amended form, passed 83-14-0-1 in the House last Thursday. It goes back to the Senate for possible concurrence in the amendment.
SSB 6337, originally by Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D – Tacoma), and amended by the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health & Housing, would allow cities to buy properties foreclosed on by the county for tax nonpayment, so long as the city agrees to do so within 30 days of a notice of public auction, and the city then sells the property to a local housing authority or nonprofit for the same price, for the purpose of building affordable housing.
SSB 6337 passed 34-14-0-0 in the Senate February 16. It passed out of the House Finance Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs as a striker amendment, on February 23. The amendment clarifies that a county does not have to offer a city the opportunity to buy land if the county intends to use the land for a public purpose.
The bill, in its amended form, passed 61-36-0-1 in the House on March 1. It goes back to the Senate for possible concurrence in the amendment.
SSB 6342, originally by Sen. Mark Miloscia (R – Federal Way), requested by the state’s Housing Finance Corporation, and amended by the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance, would shift a portion of the state’s allowed private activity bond sales each year from student loans to the state’s Housing Finance Corporation. The student loan share would drop from 15% to 5% of the state’s annual private activity bonding capacity. The HFC’s share would increase from 32% to 42%.
SSB 6342 passed 48-0-0-1 in the Senate on February 11 and 93-4-0-1 in the House last Tuesday. It is headed to the governor’s desk.