We are nearly a month into the 2019 legislative session. In the house, we are tackling a number of important issues facing our state. We are addressing affordable housing and homelessness, climate change and pollution, and teen tobacco use. Here is an update about where these important pieces of legislation stand.
Affordable Homes and Stable Communities for All
Washington is facing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis—every district, every county, every community is experiencing this crisis. Despite recent efforts, we simply do not have adequate housing to keep Washingtonians of all income levels housed.
This crisis doesn’t impact everyone equally, as renters and people of color are more likely to be overburdened by housing costs, and at greater risk for displacement.
This week, the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee heard three bills aimed at reforming our broken eviction system: HB 1453, HB 1656, and HB 1446. There is no other situation where a person or family could lose something so critical, so quickly, and evidence shows that evictions are a leading cause of homelessness.
Reforming the eviction system is just one tool to address this crisis, and House Democrats have laid out a blueprint for improving housing affordability and reducing homelessness:
Build More—We need affordable housing in ALL parts of the state. A LOT more. One of the ways we can build more is by making additional investments in programs we know work well, like the Housing Trust Fund, sales tax credits, and public works loans.
Build Up—We need more density around transit centers. Affordable housing and public transit go hand-in-hand.
Build Better—There’s too much red tape that gets in the way of addressing community needs quickly and efficiently. Lawmakers can do more to streamline environmental permitting, make better use of available public land, and expedite lending procedures.
Build Stability—Our communities are unstable because our broken eviction system imposes life-shattering consequences in a very short amount of time. We are proposing bold reforms aimed at truly and justly balancing the relationship between tenants and landlords. We also seek to better support students and children experiencing homelessness, and provide targeted property tax reductions for seniors and veterans.
Climate bills are moving through the House
The science is clear: climate change poses significant risks to our economy, our health, and our quality of life. The most recent National Climate Assessment, a federal report prepared by hundreds of scientists, details the disruptive impacts anticipated in the United States and the Pacific Northwest if we don’t take action now to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Several bills that would help move our state toward a cleaner future are making their way through the House. Here’s where they currently stand:
Clean Fuel Standard (HB 1110): Addresses our state’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions – the transportation sector. Transportation represents 45 percent of our emissions. A clean fuel standard would improve local air quality and provide economic benefits to Washington communities by increasing the demand for biofuels produced here. The bill advanced out of the Environment & Energy committee and is now before the Transportation committee.
Phasing out super pollutants (HB 1112): Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are primarily used in commercial and industrial refrigerants. They are known as “super pollutants” because they can be thousands of times more damaging to our climate than carbon dioxide. This bill phases out HFCs in our state and transitions to alternatives. It was voted out of the Environment & Energy committee and is now in the Appropriations committee.
Abiding by the Paris Climate Agreement (HB 1113): The Paris climate agreement was an unprecedented collaboration between almost every nation in the world to address the global threat of climate change. In 2017, the Trump Administration withdrew the United States from the agreement. This bill simply aligns Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions limits with those established by the US’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. The bill was voted out of the Environment & Energy committee and is now in the Appropriations committee.
100% Clean Electricity (HB 1211): This bill will help transition our state to a clean energy future by removing carbon emissions from the generation of electricity. It requires utilities to gradually transition away from fossil fuel-generated electricity, setting a preliminary “coal elimination” deadline of 2025, and a final “clean grid” deadline of 2045. The bill was voted out of the Environment & Energy committee and is now in the House Finance Committee.
Increasing Energy Efficiency (HB 1257): The fastest-growing source of emissions in Washington is emissions from buildings. By retrofitting old buildings and updating standards for new ones, we can cut carbon emissions quickly and economically, while creating good-paying jobs. A bill to help move us towards this goal had a public hearing in the Environment & Energy committee and is scheduled for possible executive session.
Preventing our kids from becoming addicted to tobacco
If you’re an adult who smokes, vapes, or chews, that’s your choice and your right. What we don’t want is young kids–some as young as middle school–getting addicted to tobacco. The younger someone is when they start using tobacco, the greater the impact on brain development and the harder it is to quit.
Research shows 90 percent of adult smokers got started when they were kids, and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Most teens get their tobacco and vapor products from friends and peers who are ages 18 to 20. That’s why I support House Bill 1074, which would raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.
I’m happy to report that this legislation passed out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee with bipartisan support.
Stay tuned for more updates. As always, thank you for your time.
Rep. Derek Stanford