Two bills sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett to reform the Washington state Growth Management Act (GMA) were heard in the Senate Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs Committee this week.

Senate Bill 5203 would establish a new climate change and resiliency goal in the GMA to help local governments better plan for the challenges posed by climate change. The legislation would also increase housing capacity in urban growth areas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution in historically impacted communities, and help our cities and counties plan for and respond to extreme weather events.

“This bill is an important step towards ensuring our development is sustainable, our communities and infrastructure are resilient, and that we are protecting our open spaces and quality of life for future generations to enjoy,” said Lovelett.

The bill was moved forward in executive session Thursday, meaning it is now eligible to be heard in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

Senate Bill 5651 would establish environmental justice as a listed goal of the GMA. The bill would ensure early communication and adequate consultation with communities that have previously been left out of conversations around land use and planning. It awaits executive action in the Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs Committee.

“Our communities—African, African-American, and Caribbean communities in Washington State—are on the frontlines of pollution and environmental health disparities, and yet we are not at the table where planning decisions are made that affect us,” said Martha Lucas, Executive Director of the Washington State Coalition of African Community Leaders, and the Front and Centered Power Building Committee. “Requiring environmental justice and equitable participation in comprehensive plans would help ensure my community is included in land use decisions, and that everyone benefits from a healthy environment.”

“We made huge progress towards environmental justice at the state level in 2021 with the passage of the HEAL Act, and I’m eager to continue that work and take it down to the local level to ensure the same positive benefits are felt across the board,” said Lovelett.

The public hearing for SB 5651 is available to watch here, and the executive session for SB 5203 is here.