Legislature passes Hawkins’ bipartisan housing bill

Measure to assist counties advances to governor’s desk

A bill sponsored by 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins to assist local governments with affordable workforce housing has been approved by the Legislature and is going to Gov. Jay Inslee for final consideration.

“I’m very grateful that the bill was approved and for the support of so many local stakeholders,” said Hawkins. “Legislators have really struggled in recent years to identify revenue streams for housing. This bill proved to be one of the more challenging bills of my legislative career.”

The Senate today voted 43-6 to concur, or agree, with changes made to the bill by the House of Representatives when the House passed it 68-28 on March 2. The Senate originally approved the proposal 41-8 on Feb. 9.

Senate Bill 5868 would allow rural counties to utilize their existing 0.09 local-option sales tax dollars for workforce housing infrastructure or facilities.

Hawkins said SB 5868 would provide a new tool to address the affordable housing crisis in Leavenworth, Chelan, Methow Valley and other communities throughout the state.

“The people who provide essential services in many of our local communities have found it increasingly difficult to actually live there,” said Hawkins. “With every passing month, a community like Leavenworth is essentially losing its sense of community. Employers are also struggling, which is why I’ve worked across party lines here in Olympia to achieve bipartisan support for providing counties more flexibility with their revenues to address this growing problem.”

The bill is supported by many groups, including the city of Leavenworth, Chelan County, Chelan Valley Housing Trust, Upper Valley MEND, Wenatchee Valley Chamber, Confluence Health, Cascade Medical Center, TwispWorks, Washington Hospitality Association, and others. To learn more about this bill, read this article or watch the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee hearing on the bill.