Erik Poulsen, Intergovernmental Affairs, No Phone Number Available
Friday, March 25, 2022 at 4:46 p.m.
If there’s one word to describe the City of Spokane’s role in the 2022 state legislative session, it’s engaged.
Council Members, the Mayor, and staff provided compelling testimony in public hearings on various issues, including bills on the City’s State Legislative Agenda and other proposals with potential impacts on cities. They also played a prominent role in defeating some bills that posed harmful consequences for Spokane. Their work behind the scenes rallying support from the community, making personal contact with legislators, and sharing the subject matter expertise of City staff were all instrumental in achieving excellent outcomes.
It was a tremendous team effort that resulted in the passage of Spokane’s Tier 1 legislative priorities and bills on our Tier 2 support list and helped secure many millions in the state budgets for City priorities.
None of these victories would be possible without the outstanding leadership of Spokane’s 3rd District delegation – Sen. Billig, Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli, all of whom hold significant influence in the Legislature. Their unwavering support of the City’s Legislative Agenda and work to secure lawmakers' approval from neighboring districts and throughout the state were critical throughout the session, which was one of Spokane’s most successful sessions ever.
Last July, police announced that they were pulling back responding to incidents due to questions they had about when they could legally use force in their efforts to promote safety under a suite of new laws. The City of Spokane successfully supported two bills that answered those questions and clarified that they could still use force to assist people in a mental health crisis or who were intentionally fleeing a lawful investigatory stop.
HB 1735 – Police use of force/community caretaking
Addresses random questions about police reform legislation from last year that resulted in some law enforcement agencies not responding or using force during mental health calls. Law enforcement contended that the previous year’s law might not allow them to get involved except in specific scenarios such as the imminent threat of injury. HB 1735 clarifies that using reasonable care before physical force does not limit officers’ caretaking functions of taking a person into custody, transporting them for treatment, or providing other mental health assistance.
HB 2037 – Terry stops
This bill was also aimed at a misunderstanding of last year’s police reform law that police believed prevented them from using force against someone intentionally disregarding a police order to remain for questioning. It confirms that police can use force against someone refusing an investigatory “Terry stop” – in situations where someone is actively fleeing a lawful temporary investigative detention after being given notice they are being detained and not free to leave. This was already a crime of "obstruction," which subjected people to arrest, but the new language gives police more confidence in enforcing the law.
The Legislature approved $2.4 million for the City’s Tier 1 priority of establishing a program that will allow judges to use Accelerated Rehabilitation and Community Safety (ARCS) services to speed up rehabilitation and reduce future crimes. The City of Spokane led this effort, which was championed by Rep. Timm Ormsby.
The funding supports community justice counselors and community coordinators that work with municipal and district court drug and therapeutic court programs. They are responsible for working with court participants to ensure connection to community services and existing resources to support the completion of court requirements. Funding is provided for a minimum of four municipal court programs, including Spokane County. It may also be used for additional support for participants, including bus passes and other transportation assistance, basic cell phones and phone cards, and translation services. At the same time, they work to complete their criminal court obligations.
SB 5687 – Traffic safety
Along with the expanded use of automated traffic cameras near schools, parks, and hospitals, this bill grants authority to establish a 20-mph speed limit on non-arterials without first having to conduct costly and time-consuming engineering and traffic studies. These measures aim to make neighborhoods and business districts safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
SB 5853 – Leasing WSDOT land for housing, parks
Sen. Billig sponsored this legislation to boost housing supply and correct historical injustices when homes in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood were demolished to make way for I-90 construction in the 1950s. SB 5853 will allow unoccupied land owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation along I-90 and the future North Spokane Corridor to be leased back to the community for housing, parks, and open space, as well as potential new businesses.
SB 5755 – Incentives to encourage more housing in urban areas
Sen. Billig also sponsored this bill to enable Spokane and similar-sized cities to establish a sales and use tax deferral program for affordable housing projects in underdeveloped areas such as surface parking lots. The projects can be mixed-use, but at least 50 percent must be set aside for multifamily housing units to be rented at or below fair market rent or sold at or below the median price.
HB 2061 – Tax increment financing for housing
Rep. Ormsby championed this legislation clarifying cities may use revenue from local property taxes in tax increment financing districts to create and preserve permanently affordable housing. This provides a new tool for Spokane to address displacement and gentrification problems resulting from the increased demand for housing.
SB 5042 – GMA vesting
This bill will help prevent sprawl by closing a loophole some counties have used to enable improper permits and invalid development. Suppose a local government expands its urban growth boundaries into areas like farmland or forests. In that case, a permit to develop in that area gets vested under existing law, allowing a developer to proceed even if the local government’s decision is later found to violate the Growth Management Act. SB 5042 extends the effective date of specific actions by local governments, providing the Growth Management Hearings Board more time to rule on permits and developments.
HB 1914 – Film industry incentives
Rep. Riccelli championed a significant increase in funding for the Washington State’s Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, which benefits Spokane’s local film industry directly and provides additional benefits for the region from related economic activity. HB 1914 raises the state’s B&O tax credit from $3.5 million to $15 million per calendar year, more than four times the program's amount. It adds special incentives for small production companies and productions that tell the stories of marginalized communities.
HB 1722 (utility micro trenching) and SB 5621 (wastewater utility taxes)
The City strongly opposed these bills because of potentially harmful impacts on Spokane ratepayers and undermining local control of city utility governance. Neither made it out of committee following persuasive testimony against the bills by Council President and Administration staff.
The Legislature passed a historic investment in Washington’s transportation system, including
several items on Spokane’s Legislative Agenda. “Move Ahead Washington” will invest $17 billion in transportation infrastructure over the next 16 years. The transportation budget also includes an authorization for cities to expand the use of automated traffic safety cameras near schools, parks, and hospitals, a Tier 1 priority for Spokane.
Additional statewide investments:
The City’s top Capital Budget request was funding for a community partnership to transform the former Hillyard Library into a state-of-the-art behavioral health facility operated by MultiCare. The state awarded $700,000 for the project and Council recently passed a resolution committing an additional $500,000. MultiCare will also contribute significant investments to make this broad community effort a reality.
Additional Spokane investments: