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Washington Fire Chiefs Legislative Report - September 4, 2019

Interim Update

Following the adjournment of the 2019 Legislature in April, attention has focused primarily on Governor Inslee’s presidential campaign, as well as the House Democrats’ decision on who would succeed Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) as Speaker of the House.  A handful of other changes at the Legislature have also occurred.

Governor & Statewide Elected Office News

The first major domino has fallen as Governor Inslee has given up his presidential campaign and will be running for Governor a third time.  With the decision, many top-level Democrats will remain in their current positions rather than challenging the incumbent Governor.  State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has pivoted to running for re-election as AG.  Likewise, Hilary Franz will be running for a second term as Commissioner of Public Lands.  King County Executive Dow Constantine has similarly announced a re-election bid for his current position.  Each of these three had well-known candidates lining up to run as potential replacement, but each will instead be staying put:  Rep. Drew Hansen (D-23, Bainbridge Island) will run for re-election to the House instead of AG; Solicitor General Noah Purcell will remain on Bob Ferguson’s staff  rather than challenge for AG; Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez will remain in Seattle rather than running for AG; and Senator Christine Rolfes (D-23, Bainbridge Island) will run for re-election to the State Senate rather than challenge for an open seat as Public Lands Commissioner.  At present, only Rep. Mike Pellicciotti (D-30, Federal Way) will for certain be vacating his House seat to run for statewide office, challenging incumbent Republican Duane Davidson for State Treasurer.

On the Republican side, Senator Phil Fortunato (R-31, Auburn/Enumclaw) has announced he will be running for Governor in 2020.  Sen. Fortunato is not up for re-election in the Senate until 2022, and thus will not need to vacate his seat to run for Governor.  Also announcing a bid for Governor as a Republican is Sheriff Loren Culp from the City of Republic.  Former US Representative and King County Sheriff, Dave Riechart, who had been mentioned as a possible candidate, has announced he will not be challenging the Governor in 2020.

Legislative News

House Democrats, at a full caucus meeting on July 31, selected Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27, Tacoma) to fill the role of Speaker of the House.  Rep. Jinkins has served in the Legislature since 2011 and has most recently served as Chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee along with serving on the House Appropriations and Health Care & Wellness Committees.  She is expected to take the reins officially when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2020.

Other legislative movement has also occurred:

·         Rep. Derek Stanford (D-1, Bothel) has been appointed to the Senate to fill the seat vacated by Guy Palumbo (D-1, Maltby), who resigned in May;

·         Bothell City Counncilmember Davina Duerr was appointed to fill Rep. Stanford’s seat;

·         Senator Barbara Bailey (R-10, Oak Harbor) has announced her resignation from the Senate, effective September 30;

·         Senator Hans Zeiger (R-25, Puyallup) has announced he will not seek re-election to the Senate but will instead vie for the Pierce Council seat being vacated by the retirement of former Senator Pam Roach;

·         Rep. Chris Gildon (R-25, Puyallup) has announced he will be running for the Senate seat held by Sen. Zeiger, thus opening up his House seat in the 2020 election;

In campaign news, Senator Liz Lovelett (D-40, Anacortes) made it through the primary and is a safe bet to retain the seat to which she was appointed in February, replacing Sen. Kevin Ranker, who resigned early in the legislative session.  Similarly, Rep. Alex Ybarra (R-13, Quincy) is a safe bet to win election to finish the term originally won by Rep. Matt Manweller, who resigned prior to session.  The 2019 General Election will be held on November 5.

Committee Assembly Days

The Legislature will briefly convene for Committee Assembly Days on various days this fall.  Committee work sessions and interim updates will be heard by a number of committees during this time.  The Senate will meet on November 20-21, while the House will meet on September 12-13, and again on November 21-22.  The 2020 Legislature will convene Monday, January 13, 2020, and will run for 60 consecutive days.

2020 Legislative Agenda

The WFC Legislative Committee, after survey results and input from WFC membership, has offered the following as the 2020 Top 5 Legislative Issues:

·         Funding/Revenue

o   Cost recovery (HB 1169)

o   Permanent authority for fire benefit charge

o   Restructuring 1% property tax growth limit

o   EMS levy cap increase to $0.75

o   Constitutional change to move fire outside the $10 property tax limit

·         Wildland Policy

o   Pre-positioning of mobilization

o   Increased funding for wildland fire prevention and suppression (SB 5996)

o   Full reimbursement to jurisdictions for mobilization personnel & equipment costs

·         Volunteer FF Pension Increase (HB 1912/SB 5829)

·         JATC Funding & Sustainability

·         WSAFM Issues

o   Food truck safety (HB 1134)

o   Townhome fire safety

o   Adult Family Home (AFH) fire safety (HB 1023)

Several bills are alive on these issues heading into 2020, and several more will be crafted in advance of the session:

HB 1169 (Peterson/Griffey), Cost Recovery for Auto Accidents – Entitles fire protection districts, regional fire protection service authorities, and municipal fire departments to recover the actual costs associated with the cleanup or removal of hazardous waste and other hazardous materials from insurers.

·         Passed the House and passed from the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, but failed to pass the full Senate prior to cutoff; the bill is alive for action in 2020.

SB 5996 (Van De Wege), Funding Wildland Fire Prevention & Suppression – Creates a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums to fund the newly-created Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account, to be used for emergency firefighting, preparedness, fire suppression activities fire prevention, and forest health activities.

·         Passed from the Senate Ways & Means Committee but failed to pass full Senate prior to cutoff; alive in 2020.

 

HB 1912 (Blake)/ SB 5829 (Mullet), Volunteer FF Pension Increase – Increases the annual disability relief fees for members and employers of volunteer firefighters, emergency medical workers, and law enforcement reserve officers. Increases the pension paid to volunteers from a maximum of $300, to a maximum of $350 plus $10 per month for each year the retirement fee is paid beyond 25 years.

·         Passed the House but failed to pass the Senate prior to cutoff; alive for 2020.

HB 1134 (Peterson), Food Truck Inspections – Requires the State Building Code Council to establish and adopt rules relating to fire permits for food trucks. Requires all food trucks to: (1) be annually inspected by a local fire district; (2) obtain a valid state fire permit sticker upon successful compliance with the state fire permit requirements; and (3) affix and display a current valid state fire permit. Establishes a check list of requirements that food truck vendors must comply with in order to obtain a valid statewide fire permit. Requires the Department of Licensing to create state fire permit stickers and distribute them to local fire districts throughout the state. Makes it a civil infraction for any person to remove, replicate, or otherwise interfere with the display of a state fire permit.

·         Passed from the Local Gov Committee, but failed to pass Appropriations prior to cutoff; alive again in 2020.  A different bill regarding health inspections of food trucks did pass.

HB 1023 (Macri), Adult-Family Homes 6-8 Bed Increase – Allows adult family homes to increase their bed capacity from six to seven or eight beds if they meet specified licensing standards, including that the home is in compliance with DSHS rules regarding emergency evacuation and that the home has a residential sprinkler system in place for residents who require assistance during an evacuation.

  • Passed both chambers, but failed to receive a concurrence vote by the House; alive again in 2020.

Other Bills of Interest – Wildland

 

HB 1188 (Dent), Rangeland Fire Protection Associations – Authorizes the creation of Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs). Establishes criteria for the formation, operation, and membership of RFPAs. Requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide certain information to RFPAs concerning the DNR's wildfire detection, prevention, and suppression activities. Authorizes both the DNR and fire protection service agencies to enter into agreements with RFPAs for the detection, prevention, or suppression of wildfires. Directs the DNR to assist RFPAs, to the extent practicable, in procuring funding, equipment, and training. Authorizes the DNR to develop recommendations concerning the formation, management, operation, and training for RFPAs. Requires the Department of Labor and Industries to adopt an exterior firefighting training and certification standard that is appropriate for rangeland firefighting.

·         Failed to pass from House Appropriations prior to cutoff; alive for 2020

SB 5996 (Van De Wege), Wildfire Prevention & Suppression Funding – Creates a surcharge on property and casualty insurance premiums of 0.52 percent. Allocates the revenue raised to the new Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account. Prioritizes expenditures from the Wildfire Prevention and Suppression account in the following order: (1) emergency firefighting, (2) preparedness, (3) fire suppression activities of agencies other than DNR, (4) fire prevention, and (5) forest health activities.

  • Failed to pass prior to adjournment; alive again in 2020.

Other Bills of Interest – WSAFM

 

HB 1754 (Santos), Hosting of Homeless by Religious Organizations – Places new limitations on the ability of counties, cities or towns, and code cities to regulate outdoor encampments, safe parking efforts, indoor overnight shelters, and temporary small houses on property owned or controlled by a religious organization. Allows a county, city or town, or code city to require a religious organization hosting the homeless and the agency managing the hosting to enter into a memorandum of understanding to protect the public health and safety of residents. Requires religious organizations hosting the homeless to comply with certain regulations relating to sex offender checks, vehicle and driver laws, and the homeless client management information system.

·         Failed to pass the House prior to cutoff; alive again in 2020.

HB 1337 (Barkis), Code Enforcement Officers – Expands the list of aggravating circumstances that may support imposition of an exceptional sentence above the standard sentencing range to include assault of a code enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity.

·         Failed to pass the House prior to cutoff; alive again in 2020.

Other Bills of Interest – General

 

HB 1553 (Riccelli)/SB 5517 (Cleveland), Ambulance Quality Assurance Fee – Establishes a quality assurance fee to be paid by all ambulance transport providers.

·         Both bills received hearings but failed to advance prior to cutoff; alive again in 2020.

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Posted: Sep 17, 2019,
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