Legislative Update: Week of January 8

January 8, 2024

Connecting Communities Legislative Updates Week of January 8

Week of January 8 Legislative Update

The day is finally here! The 2024 Washington legislative session starts TODAY, and Futurewise is here to be your voice and guide you through the process.

Every year, we send a weekly email with updates on priority legislation, urgent action opportunities, and any other information you need to stay in the loop and make your voice heard. Click the big red button below to sign up for these updates, then read on for the update on our Connecting Communities Campaign.

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Sunrise over fields in North Bend

2024 Session: Connecting Communities

Whether you live in a farmhouse, a townhome or a high-rise, you deserve to live in a vibrant, connected community. Rapidly increasing housing costs across Washington – in big cities and small towns – are increasing the pressure to sprawl outward, threatening our farmlands and wildlife habitats.

Futurewise’s 2024 Connecting Communities legislative agenda is fighting sprawl by promoting growth in our existing cities and towns, and protecting our rural lands from overdevelopment. Read more about our top priorities:

Promoting Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

Futurewise is leading a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, housing providers, and labor unions advocating for TOD legislation that prioritizes equity and affordability. Our advocacy is rooted in the following core principles:

  • Increase housing capacity near transit.
  • Ensure housing affordability near transit while offering flexibility to local jurisdictions for implementation.
  • Support community-led equitable transit-oriented development.
  • Balance rapid implementation with local government flexibility.
  • Reduce barriers to construction of new housing.
  • Ensure compliance statewide.

Securing Funding for Multi-Modal Transportation

In 2023, Futurewise helped pass HB 1181 to add a climate element to the Growth Management Act. This year, legislators must allocate funding for healthy, equitable, and environmentally-friendly transportation options like more bike lanes and improved public transit.

Preventing Sprawl in Rural Lands

Rural communities across Washington are facing the pressure to increase development on farmland and wildlife habitat. Unmitigated growth threatens our local food systems, overdraws limited water resources, and reduces valuable wildlife habitat, including the riparian ecosystems that sustain our local salmon runs.

Futurewise is expecting legislation to drop that would weaken state Growth Management Act (GMA), and threatens to increase urban development in rural areas. There are a few bills already introduced that we’re concerned about:

  1. SB 5834 would allow counties to add farmland to the urban growth area, threatening conversion to subdevelopments
  2. HB 1133 and HB 2126 would allow development of detached ADUs in rural areas (see this blog post for more info)

We’re also anticipating legislation to be introduced that would extend water and sewer service outside of the urban growth area, raising costs for rate payers and increasing suburban sprawl.

Housing Affordability

We're thrilled to support our partners at Washington Low Income Housing Alliance in their advocacy to pass legislation for rent stabilization in Washington. We know that our fight for housing affordability must prioritize building more homes for people to live in AND making sure that people can afford to stay in their homes.

Futurewise Action Alerts

We can’t win without your help!

Last year, we passed middle housing and added climate change to the Growth Management Act because thousands of us worked together to email legislators, attend lobby day, mobilize friends and family to encourage our leaders to build a better Washington. This year, your legislators need to hear from you again to know there's still support to pass transit-oriented development and protect past wins to build connected communities.

This legislative session is the "short session," meaning our legislators are only in Olympia for two months and we have a small window to make a big impact. There's already hearings scheduled for some of these bills, and we need you to add your name in support for against. Signing in to a hearing is an easy way to share your voice without testifying at the hearing. It only takes a minute, and click each of the buttons below to sign in!

Sign in PRO for Transit-Oriented Development (HB 2160)

HB 2160 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Housing committee this Tuesday, January 9 at 4pm. This is the first chance to demonstrate broad support for TOD! We ask you to please sign in PRO for HN 2160 by 3pm on Tuesday, January 9.

Sign in PRO for Rent Stabilization (HB 2114)

HB 2114 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Housing this Thursday, January 11 at 8am. Let your legislators know we need to ensure people can afford to stay in their homes. Please sign in PRO for HB 2114 by 7am on Thursday, January 11.

Sign in NO for Urban Sprawl (SB 5834)

SB 5834 has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs committee this Tuesday, January 9 at 8am. Let's make it clear we want to protect our farms and rural lands. We ask you to please sign in NO for SB 5834 by 7am on Tuesday, January 9.

Connecting Communities Lobby Day Thursday 1/25/24

Join Lobby Day

Want to meet with legislators in person and share your story? Then join us for our January 25 lobby day in Olympia. This is one of the best ways to make your voice heard, meet volunteers, and witness democracy in action! Click the big red button below for more information and how to sign up. Deadline to register is January 17, but the sooner you register, the more likely we'll be able to schedule a meeting with your legislator.