With just a few weeks left in 2018, Futurewise is looking ahead to the 2019 legislative session. The November elections substantially changed the make-up of the state legislature, with Democrats picking up seven seats in the State House and three seats in the State Senate. The new members will change the overall calculus as we assess how we can advance our legislative goals. Additionally, we’re cognizant of other priorities the state legislature will have to consider, including a significant financial investment in mental health spending and the governor’s climate action plan.

Futurewise is looking to the 2019 legislative session with three key goals in mind that address land use and the Growth Management Act (GMA), transportation and housing.

Land Use

With regards to land use and the GMA, our goal is that state and local jurisdictions plan for climate change, our limited agricultural and forests lands are conserved, and cities grow sustainably and equitably through adoption and implementation of mutually beneficial rural and urban land use and environmental policies. To advance this goal, we will be working on legislation that strengthens urban growth line regulations to further prevent sprawl as well as supporting opportunities for cities and urban areas to grow through equitable investment in infrastructure and access to opportunity.

How might that translate into actual bills? First, we want the GMA to plan for climate change directly by including a climate change element that includes mitigation and adaption planning. We will be encouraging annexation of unincorporated urban growth areas by advocating for tax incentives and infrastructure money to support annexation. We’ll also advocate for the state to provide support and funds to counties for lost tax revenue. Finally, we’re pushing for greater resources to local jurisdictions for good planning in the form of $5 million for Planning and Review Fund grants and another $5 million for general planning grants to jurisdictions.

Transportation

On the transportation front, we aim for a transportation system that is resilient and built to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through equitable access and expansion of transportation choices. We will advocate to require consistency between the state transportation plan and Washington State’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. Additionally, we’ll be supporting expansion of multimodal improvements and complete streets that support land use strategies to provide resiliency and access for all residents regardless of age, race, gender, mobility, income, and location.

We’ll advocate for the state’s transportation plan and investments to reflect Washington’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. We’ll also be pushing to prioritize multimodal transportation choices as well as advocating to allow photo enforcement of transit only lanes and block the box violators.

Housing

Finally, our housing goal is simple: Housing options should be available in all communities that meet the needs of all people. We’re looking to support a comprehensive and strategic package of affordable housing legislation that includes revenue, policy, and tax incentive options. Additionally, we’ll be supporting affordable housing in conjunction with partner efforts that aim to increase access to services that move people out of homelessness.

We expect 2019 to be a major year in advancing housing legislation. We’re keeping our eye on bills that will require cities of a certain size to increase development around transit stations and transit centers. We’re also looking to increase addition local tax options for local jurisdictions to build affordable housing, including allowing local Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) to fund affordable housing. We’re advocating for local jurisdictions, as a part of the planning process, do a fair housing assessment. Finally, we would like to see more accountability in the housing element of the GMA for local jurisdictions to allow and promote a diversity of housing options in all economic segments.

How you can help

Our State Policy Director, Bryce Yadon, will be living and breathing Olympia politics starting in January. But his work with state legislators needs the support of advocates like you who can call, email and meet with legislators on these critical issues. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with breaking news and action alerts for the legislative session.

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