Reflections on End of Washington Legislative Session

Written by Amy Wheeless, Policy Analyst at the NW Energy Coalition, and Co-Chair of Shift Zero

It seems like months ago that the Washington State legislative session came to a close, but it was less than two weeks ago. On behalf of the Shift Zero alliance, we hope that all members of our community are safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Our partners at the Climate Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy have been compiling resources to help those affected by the crisis; as you are able, we hope you are able to support individuals and communities.

Before it fades too much into the background, we wanted to reflect briefly on the short 2020 Washington legislative session. For Shift Zero, we saw some successes:

A big success was the passage of HB 2405 / C-PACER! This legislation has been in the works for years, and it made it over the finish line with strong bipartisan support. A broad and diverse coalition of supporters came out to testify and speak with legislators. 

  • We would particularly like to acknowledge the strong support of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Washington, the Solar Installers of Washington, and the Washington State Emergency Management Association, as well as the Shift Zero members who actively supported the bill. 
  • We would also like to thank Rep. Davina Duerr and Sen. Liz Lovelett for their sponsorship and support, as well as Rep. Beth Doglio, who championed the bill last session. 
  • The Shift Zero task force on C-PACER will continue meeting to discuss outreach and support needs to Washington counties that may be interested in implementing a C-PACER program.

We were also successful in blocking attacks on the energy code. HB 2667 would have removed the goals that guide the State’s energy code, delayed implementation of the 2018 residential energy code, and directed the State Building Code Council to amend the update by Jan 2021 to be less efficient. Shift Zero members and allies wrote emails to legislators and testified in opposition to this bill, and the bill did not advance. However, rolling back the energy code–particularly the residential energy code–came up as a theme in other environmental bills, though those efforts did not advance either. Moving forward, balancing training and support for builders with needed improvements and innovations in the energy code is very important. This topic is top of mind for the Shift Zero Roadmap task force.

Finally, HB 2311, which updates the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be in line with climate science, passed the legislature. This legislation is important because it sets the guideposts for where we need to be along the way to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. However, to meet these targets, we will need to have the policy tools, which will be the work of future sessions.

As we move forward with our work–and assessing the community and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis–we hope that you will engage as you are able. 

  • If you are not a Shift Zero member, but are interested in joining, reach out for more information. 
  • If you are a Shift Zero member and want to join one of the above task forces, or another initiative, reach out to Rachel Koller. Also, be on the look-out for some meeting invites in the coming months (likely virtual!) to discuss the role of buildings in helping Washington State meet its new carbon reduction goals and helping to spur new work.

Thank you for all you do!

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