Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s week 3 of the legislative session and much is happening. We passed our first bills off the Senate floor yesterday, a few non-controversial “good little bills,” but there’s a lot to do. We’re seeing policy proposals take shape on issues like drug possession, housing, and ensuring a strong workforce of nurses in our health care system, and I’ll keep you up to date on all these as they develop.
One of the most important aspects of helping our building and construction industries supply the housing we need to make things more affordable is permitting reform. Permitting reform isn’t always the most exciting topic under the sun – I’m even making jokes in the email subject line in the hopes that more people will open this – but it’s very important. Anyone who’s done a renovation on their house or constructed a new home knows how much added cost and uncertainty permitting can add to a project.
I’ve got a bill, SB 5290, that I think can make things better. It was heard in committee this week and I’m optimistic about it moving forward. It would do a couple things:
- There are a lot of construction projects that are big and complex, where requiring some kind of permit probably makes sense, but there’s a lot that aren’t. Let’s remove the permit requirements for most residential interior renovations unless there’s a good reason, like they’d affect fire or emergency safety or something like that.
- There are still local governments that don’t use electronic permit processing, if you can believe it. These are usually smaller jurisdictions that don’t have a lot of resources – let’s send them a bit of state money so they can join the rest of us here in the 21st century.
- We’ve got to provide predictable timelines for permits. When I talk to builders and I ask “what’s making it hard for you to build housing and complete projects?” they don’t complain so much about the cost of a permit, they don’t complain about having to prove they’re doing everything right – they complain about how unpredictable the timeline is for them to get their permit approved. It matters a ton, and a late permit can cause massive cost overruns on a project. This bill will help provide the funding for local governments to hire third-party consultants, if need be, so they can commit to a permit timeline, and deliver the permit on time.
Folks who know me know I don’t always get along with Gov. Jay Inslee, but he’s supporting this bill as well, and I really appreciate that. If we get it passed, I think it’d do a lot of good.
Meet my friend Sen. Marko Liias
In my weekly videos I normally brag about my own bills and how wonderful they are, but this week I wanted to introduce you to my friend, Sen. Marko Liias from Snohomish County, and give him a chance to quickly brag about a bill of his (that I’m supporting too!). It’s about encouraging more development and housing construction around high-capacity transit – solving our affordable housing challenge means we need to build a lot more homes, and it makes the most sense to concentrate that increased density around transit. Looking forward to voting for this bill on the floor! Click here to watch:
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or feedback about any of the issues coming before the Legislature this year, feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to staying in touch with you.
Take care and stay safe,