Senate passes Harris-Talley’s bill easing impact fees on early learning facilities, will head to Governor’s Desk

OLYMPIA – Yesterday, the Senate passed HB 1331 35-13, sponsored by Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-Seattle), giving local cities and counties the ability to reduce impact fees for affordability in building and expanding childcare and early learning facilities.

The bill makes sure local governments do not impose an impact fee on an early learning facility greater than the impact fees of commercial retail buildings that generate a similar amount and duration of vehicle trips. Also, a local government may exempt an early learning facility from an impact fee up to 80 percent without being required to pay the exempted portion from public funds other than the impact fee account.

Rep. Harris-Talley says this past year, many low-income families across Washington dealt with another layer of stress along with surviving a pandemic.

“Struggling to access early learning facilities hurt so many; especially working parents,” Harris-Talley said. “Due to how our state calculates impact fees on child care buildings, many from impacted communities face a disadvantage financially to build in their neighborhoods. As a mom, I know how important it is to have local care for our children.”

Even though early learning facilities do not have the same impacts as other retail businesses, the fees are – at times – up to five times higher. Unlike hospitals and public facilities, parents at childcare centers are only dropping off and picking up their kids, traffic is minimal, and the facilities are typically closed on the weekend.

This legislation will ease cost barriers, allowing childcare and early learning facilities to be excluded from impact fees up to 80 percent and higher. For a full 100 percent exemption, the construction developer would have to indicate that 25 percent or more of the children and families using the facilities are qualified for state-subsidized childcare.

“This is a huge win for rural and BIPOC communities across Washington,” Harris-Talley said. “Early learning facilities are the backbones of our neighborhoods, and not only that, providers serve as public servants and role models for our children. Also, this will create jobs and remove a layer of stress for parents.”

This is Rep. Harris-Talley’s first bill passed out of both chambers. It will now head to Gov. Inslee’s desk to become a law.