Week 2/2 Legislative Update

February 3, 2020

We are now 3 weeks into this year’s short legislative session. At this point, most of the bills we are tracking have gotten a hearing and we are a week away from crucial decisions about which bills make it out of their policymaking committees. This is a great time to reach out to legislators.

One of the most exciting things about this year’s legislative session is that new legislators are stepping up to be champions for better growth management including Senator Jesse Salomon, Representative Davina Duerr, and Representative Debra Lekanoff. The update below covers some key bills being led by these legislators.


Senator Jesse Salomon

SB 6150 – Closing the Rural Vesting Loophole!

Nothing has been more frustrating for Futurewise in recent years than the rural vesting loophole. Counties propose illegal urban growth area expansions. We appeal them and win (because they are illegal). But in the intervening time, big suburban development projects get permitted in these rural areas and are allowed to proceed anyway. These projects may make a lot of money for an individual property owner or developer, but they can displace critical farmland and natural habitat, strain suburban and rural infrastructure, and leave residents fossil-fuel dependent with long drives to work.

Futurewise has worked with legislators in the House to introduce this bill each of the last 5 years, but we never had a champion in the Senate until now. This year Senator Jesse Salomon has stepped up to lead the charge to end the vesting loophole. He understands the negative impacts of this loophole on our suburban and rural communities and our environment. Show Senator Salomon your support for his leadership by email or phone, (360) 786-7662.

You can also use this link to find contact information for the other members of the local government committee: Takko (Chair); Salomon (Vice-Chair); Short (Ranking Member); Honeyford (R); Lovelett (D)


Representative Davina Duerr

HB 2427Adding a Climate Change Goal to the Growth Management Act!

Our state has established ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and last year passed groundbreaking legislation to free our electrical grid from fossil fuels. However, the biggest source of emissions in Washington State is transportation. Other states like California have led the push for more efficient vehicles and fuels but seen transportation emissions remain stubbornly high as development sprawls and sky-high housing prices force low-income commuters to spend hours on the road instead of with their families. Transportation emission are going up in Washington State too. At Futurewise, we believe that good planning is essential for reducing emissions from transportation.

For all of the above reasons, we were thrilled this year to be approached by Representative Davina Duerr with an idea for a bill to add a Climate goal to the Growth Management Act (GMA). The goal would direct cities and counties to help the state meet its emissions reduction targets and to plan for adaptation to climate change impacts like sea level rise. The GMA is based around goals and elements. The goals establish what to plan for and the elements clarify how to do the planning. Passing a goal this year would lay the groundwork for adding a full climate element in the future. Let Rep. Duerr know how much you appreciate her leadership and have her back as she fights for climate planning in our state by e-mailing or calling (360) 786-7928.

You can also use this link to find contact information for members of the House Environment and Energy Committee: Fitzgibbon (Chair); Lekanoff (Vice-Chair); DeBolt (Ranking Member); Dye (Assistant Ranking Member); Boehnke (R); Doglio (D); Fey (D); Goehner (R); Mead (D); Robinson (D); Shewmake (D)

Senator Salomon is the lead sponsor on HB 2427’s companion bill in the Senate, SB 6453.

Also take a look at Rep. Duerr’s ambitious climate element bill, HB 2609.


Representative Debra Lekanoff

HB 2550Planning for Net Ecological Gain!

With the news of another Southern Resident Orca feared dead the health of our marine ecosystem has never been more dire. In Washington State our regulatory frameworks use a standard of no net loss for ecological function when considering development regulations. However, it is now clear that we cannot simply limit further losses. The Southern Resident Orca Task Force final report issued last year concluded (recommendation #48) that this framework must change to require net ecological gain.

Representative Debra Lekanoff has taken up the charge to implement this principle into law. Her bill, HB 2550, would direct the Office of Financial Management to figure out how to incorporate net ecological gain into the GMA, SMA, Hydraulic Project Approvals, the Model Toxics Control Act, and other regulations that govern ecological health. Make sure Rep. Lekanoff knows you are rooting for her and her leadership on this issue by emailing her or calling (360) 786-7800.

You can also use this link to find contact information for members of the House Environment and Energy Committee: Fitzgibbon (Chair); Lekanoff (Vice-Chair); DeBolt (Ranking Member); Dye (Assistant Ranking Member); Boehnke (R); Doglio (D); Fey (D); Goehner (R); Mead (D); Robinson (D); Shewmake (D)

Also, check out Rep. Lekanoff’s deeper dive into how net ecological gain can save our salmon, HB 2549.


While we are thrilled to be working with these new champions, we would be remiss to not also appreciate our long-time legislator allies. We love them too. Watch our legislative preview with two of them, Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and Senator Patty Kuderer.