MRSC Insight Blog
Posts for New Legislation and Regulations
It was a mixed bag for utility legislation in 2023. There are some new obligations for utilities, but certain non-project and project actions are now categorically exempt from SEPA review.
Several firearms-related bills were passed during the 2023 legislative session, including a ban on assault weapons, and new requirements for firearms purchase, such as background checks and a 10-day waiting period.
County election officials and school districts will be pleased to learn about new public records changes: one exempts voted ballots and another exempts the personal information of students in any records pertaining to the student.
Common themes among these six new planning-related bills include streamlining local project review, decreasing the planning burden on smaller communities, incentivizing annexations, and increasing housing supply throughout the state.
In 2023, SB 5290 introduced legislative tweaks to local project review to improve process predictability, including the establishment of grant and technical assistance programs to help local governments build the resources needed for timely permit processing.
New state personnel laws establish protections for certain whistleblowers, amend the statutory definition of employment, modify procedures for reviewing and approving requests for partial wage replacement for unemployed workers, and update hospital staffing standards.
With wildfire season underway, local governments should be aware of bills passed during the 2023 Regular Legislative Session addressing wildfire events and proposed permanent rules to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke.
In 2023, state legislators passed several bills addressing environmental concerns, including new climate elements for comprehensive planning, making impact fee revenue available for new bike and pedestrian facilities, and an optional permit process for clean energy projects.
The 2023 legislative session saw a number of bills that specifically impact counties, including amending the process to appoint members to a salary commission in noncharter counties and removing the deadline by which counties may choose to join the Voluntary Stewardship Program.
Two of the more significant housing laws adopted this year are HB 1110, which requires certain cities to allow "middle housing" in residential zones, and HB 1337, which requires all GMA-planning cities and counties to allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in residential areas.
The state legislature adopted several new election laws this year regarding the candidate filing period, voter registration, records of future voters under the age of 18, and the Washington Voting Rights Act.
Recent legislation impacting utilities includes SHB 1326, allowing city and town utilities to waive connections fees for certain organizations, and ESHB 1329, prohibiting electric and/or water utilities from terminating service during periods of high heat.
Part two of this series covers five new pieces of legislation that impact procurement and contracting, from increased project limits for community service organization contracts to standardized limits for procurement contracts and expanded contractor registration requirements.
The 2023 legislation impacting contracting includes SB 5268, which expands the number of agencies able to use a small works roster and conditions under which it can be used, and HB 1050, which expands the apprenticeship utilization requirements to more local government entities.
After being called back to a special session, the Washington State Legislature passed SB 5536, also known as the Blake Fix, adding a new statewide law on drug use and possession, with most provisions taking effect on July 1, 2023.
A few bills from the 2022 Regular Legislative Session deal with courts in a manner that will impact local governments, including giving courts more flexibility to not impose certain legal financial obligations or to waive those obligations.
In a push to carbon neutrality, Washington State agencies and the legislature have put in place laws and mandates designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings, invest in transportation alternatives, reduce waste, and expedite the approval of green energy projects.
SB 5027, which passed during the 2021 legislative session, requires closed captioning be used on televisions in public places, including in local government-owned facilities, when the technology is available.
New legislation related to the Growth Management Act (GMA) will expand tribal participation, limit appeals for actions to increase housing supply, change periodic update timelines, provide additional options for limited areas of more intense rural development (LAMIRDs), and more.
New legislation requires many employers to include wage and benefit information in all job postings and makes changes to the state's Paid Family and Medical Leave program.