Bill aimed at reining in housing costs goes to Locke


The Oregonian

OLYMPIA, WA -- State agencies imposing new rules would have to consider the impact on housing costs if Gov. Gary Locke signs a bill passed by the Legislature.

The Senate passed House Bill 1430 and dozens of other measures Friday, including changing pension benefits for survivors of state employees killed on the job, easing the state's tough vehicle impound law and increasing license costs for sport fishermen.

The housing measure would expand an existing law that requires agencies to consider impacts on small businesses when imposing new rules. Any number of rules -- from workplace safety requirements to building codes -- could increase housing costs.

Supporters argue that some of the skyrocketing cost of housing in Washington is driven by excessive regulation.

"This will keep the cost of housing down by making government and government agencies aware of what they are doing," said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Sumner.

Opponents argued that the change would overburden state agencies because it requires them to consider possible changes in the cost of housing materials such as nails and siding.

"This bill goes to the extreme and hamstrings state agencies," said Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup.

The bill, originally sponsored by Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, passed 33-16 and goes to the governor.

In other action, the Senate passed: House Bill 1519, allowing survivors of state employees killed on the job to collect full survivor benefits. Under current law, benefits are reduced by the number of years the worker might have spent on the job. The bill was prompted by the killing of a Department of Revenue worker whose family received benefits as if he had retired early. The bill passed 48-0 and goes to Locke. House Bill 1074, easing the impact of the state's tough vehicle impoundment law on people who unknowingly lend their cars to unlicensed drivers. The bill would allow police to release a vehicle to its owner if someone else was arrested while driving it. The bill passed 49-0 and goes to Locke. House Bill 1725, imposing a $10 charge on additional catch record cards required for sport fishermen who catch salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or Dungeness crab. The first such card comes free with a fishing license, and current law lets fishermen get extras for free as well. The change is aimed at providing more money for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It passed 49-0 and goes back to the House for a vote on minor changes.


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