2017 Legislative Session

Call for Action

On Monday, April 24, Governor Inslee called the 2017 Legislature into a 30-day Special Session to negotiate the 2017-2019 Operating Budget and to comply with the Supreme Court’s McCleary education funding decision. Washington REALTORS® recently launched an extensive media campaign opposing real estate tax increases. And while the budget and taxes will have top priority in the Special Session, we need you to ask your legislator for action on two important policy issues during the Special Session: fixing the Hirst water rights decision and addressing housing supply and homelessness funding.

Below is information for a REALTORS® Call to Action on SB 5239, which addresses the impacts of the Supreme Court’s Hirst water rights decision, and SB 5254, which improves the Growth Management Act’s Buildable Lands Review process and provides funding for low-income and homeless housing programs:

SB5239
Support SB 5239
Fix the Hirst Water Supply Decision
Few, if any, legislators appear to support the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision – but the issue remains unresolved even as the homebuilding season begins. SB 5239 fixes the Hirst decision by clarifying that local governments and landowners can rely on existing Ecology rules, instead of having to exceed those state standards. Throughout Washington State, landowners have relied on Ecology’s rules to buy vacant land and should be able to rely on these rules. 

 

SB5254
Support SB 5254
Improving the GMA’s Buildable Lands process and funding low-income and homeless housing.  
In many parts of Washington State, the supply of housing inventory is at an all-time low and prices at all-time highs. This affects the entire housing market – from first time buyers and families wanting a bigger home, to renters and the low-income. SB 5254 improves the Growth Management Act’s Buildable Lands Review process to ensure that adequate land is available inside Urban Growth Areas, and provides funding for low-income and homeless housing by extending the $40 document recording fee and allowing use of local REET for these purposes. Please contact your legislators immediately by taking action below and ask them to support SB 5239 and SB 5254.
Take Action

SB 5239 (Fix Hirst) Updates

Hirst Decision News
  • Bill Clarke Provides Hirst Update

    Summary:

    Washington REALTORS® Public Policy Director Bill Clark provides an update and much needed clarification on the Hirst Decision and WR's support for SB5239.

  • Call for Action Launched!

    Summary:

    On Monday, April 24, Governor Inslee called the 2017 Legislature into a 30-day Special Session to negotiate the 2017-2019 Operating Budget and to comply with the Supreme Court’s McCleary education funding decision. Washington REALTORS® recently launched an extensive media campaign opposing real estate tax increases. And while the budget and taxes will have top priority in the Special Session, we need you to ask your legislator for action on two important policy issues during the Special Session: fixing the Hirst water rights decision and addressing housing supply and homelessness funding.

  • Fix Hirst

    Summary:

    Washington REALTORS® supports SB 5239 to help fix the Hirst decision.

  • Broker Alert: Update on Hirst v. Whatcom County

    Summary:

    Broker Alert on the impacts in Washington State & legislative efforts.

  • CALL FOR ACTION: Support SB 5239

    Summary:

    REALTORS®, we just launched a Call to Action! Support SB 5239 (Warnick/Takko) to help resolve chaos throughout Washington State concerning the availability of water from single household wells for new homes. This is a critical issue so please read more and take action here...

Fix Hirst Flyer (PDF)
Fix Hirst Flyer


SB 5239 (Fix Hirst) Bill Tracker


SB 5254 Updates

Improving the GMA’s Buildable Lands process and funding low-income and homeless housing.  In many parts of Washington State, the supply of housing inventory is at an all-time low and prices at all-time highs. This affects the entire housing market – from first time buyers and families wanting a bigger home, to renters and the low-income. SB 5254 improves the Growth Management Act’s Buildable Lands Review process to ensure that adequate land is available inside Urban Growth Areas, and provides funding for low-income and homeless housing by extending the $40 document recording fee and allowing use of local REET for these purposes. Please contact your legislators immediately and ask them to support SB 5239 and SB 5254.

How the House & Senate Budgets Impact Real Estate

Protecting your Business AND Increasing Funding for Education: We Can Do Both

A thriving environment for small businesses AND stronger, well-funded schools across our state...
That was Washington REALTORS®’ ambitious goal as this legislative session began. While nothing can be certain as we enter special session, we are remarkably close to achieving that goal. Both the Senate and House budget proposals include historic increases in education funding for the third consecutive budget cycle. No matter what final budget deal is struck this year, school funding will have received no less than $6.2 Billion in new money over the last 5 years. Despite what you may have heard, the current Senate and House bills are comparable regarding additional money for K12 education. The Senate proposal doesn’t shortchange education by any means; it just focuses on education as a priority by calling for 95% of the House plan’s education but with half the new revenue. Both budgets would propel Washington into the Top 10 states for education funding, something we can all be proud of.  

Here are the basic differences between the two proposals:


THE SENATE BUDGET

The Senate budget increases the state property tax, but offsets that by a decrease in local property tax.  This complies with the Supreme Court’s directive in the McCleary decision to reduce reliance on local funding sources for basic education.  While some high value property areas would see a slight increase in property taxes, 87% of all Washington homeowners would see no change or even a small decrease in property tax. We think this is the best, most stable way to fund education. Property tax is a stable source of funding, which may help explain why the state constitution itself identifies  property tax as the main funding source for education. We think this plan makes the most sense.

THE HOUSE BUDGET

The House budget increases the B&O Tax our brokers pay by 20%, and also increases Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) on high value properties, farm land and commercial buildings ($1 Million and more). This is an $800 million tax increase on real estate transactions over the next 4 years.  In addition to the REET increase the House plan also creates a legally questionable “State Capital Gains Income Tax” that is framed as a tax on stocks and investments, but that also applies to gains from sales of commercial properties, small businesses, and some investment real estate.  We oppose new or increased taxes on real estate transactions – these types of revenues are far more volatile than property taxes, and Washington already taxes real estate transfers at one of the highest rates in the country.

Washington REALTORS® continues to believe that the Senate approach best supports our schools, while promoting a healthier environment for small businesses to succeed. In response to some legitimate concerns about a few of the Senate budget’s cuts,  WR has identified almost $1 Billion in new tax revenue that we either support or are neutral on.  For example, we support extending sales tax to online purchases, which has been a priority for our commercial practitioners for the last 5 years. This would bring a level playing field to brick and mortar stores and is a common sense tax fairness measure that also helps our schools.

We continue to believe that we can protect your business, and have world class schools in Washington. We are close to achieving both.



Government Affairs News

  • Call to Action - Oppose Increase of the REET


  • Bill Clarke Provides Hirst Update


  • Call for Action Launched!


  • Washington Real Estate Commission Opportunity


  • Fix Hirst


  • Broker Alert: Update on Hirst v. Whatcom County


  • Call Before You Dig & Real Estate Signage


  • CALL FOR ACTION: Support SB 5239


  • Demystifying Local Planning


  • Want to join the CFPB’s advisory board and councils?