The update from Olympia today finds our priority bill, HB1923, in a precarious position. This past week the bill moved out of the House, and onto the Senate – but with a host of watered-down provisions, including the following: (for an overview of the last iteration of the bill - more or less - see our blog post from February 8th)
Section 1 – This section is a menu of required options intended to increase density in cities – particularly in areas of opportunity. This section of the bill is now OPTIONAL.
Section 2 – This section of the bill – updating the GMA Housing Element requirements to address affordability and prevent displacement – is also now OPTIONAL.
There are some other modifications to the final bill, but it’s more important that we pause here and consider that this housing bill was stripped of its most important elements in order to make it out of the House and over to the Senate – despite the unlikely coalition of enviros, developers, labor, housing advocates, counties and cities that stood together in support. That said, other critical climate-focused legislation, like clean fuel standards (HB1110) – of which we are also supportive – took priority over the housing bill, but that doesn’t mean the fight for affordable housing in areas of opportunity is over.
The next big push – with the partners mentioned above – is to ensure that the bill gets to the Housing Stability and Affordability Committee in the Senate, where we hope to work with Senator Kuderer and Saldana to re-constitute the most important provisions of the original bill, and complete negotiation before it heads back to the House.
More next week on our progress on HB1923– and updates on whether we’ll need support from Futurewise members to get this bill closer to the finish line.