Sunday, November 28, 2021
Nov. 28, 2021

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No Vancouver-specific measures passed in legislative session

City’s legislative wrapup nonetheless features positives

By , Columbian politics reporter
Published:

Reviews were mixed as part of Vancouver’s legislative wrapup, a now decades-long tradition where city lobbyists Mark Brown and Brian Enslow recap the session for the city council.

“I can tell you that probably for Brian, as well, there’s no two people in the state of Washington happier they finished on time,” Brown said. “That’s not typical.”

There were some positives that came out of the session for Vancouver, but the city’s specific legislation flopped.

“I am sorry to report none of our bills passed,” Brown said.

Vancouver sought legislation clarifying its ability to sell property for off-street parking, simplifying the process to surplus low-value items and requiring employee licenses at massage and reflexology businesses to include photos, among other issues.

Brown said the massage bill was close to obtaining approval. It was on the consideration calendar in the Senate after it unanimously passed in the House, but “they ran out of time two bills ahead of us,” he said. “This isn’t horseshoes; close doesn’t count.”

Enslow added that they were also disappointed about what the Legislature was able accomplish with respect to homelessness and affordable housing in the past.

“Fortunately, this ended up being one of the priorities of the Governor, of the Senate majority leader and House majority leader,” Enslow said. “We saw arguably in my 20 years of working in the Legislature … the best session for homelessness and affordable housing advocacy I’ve seen.”

The 2018 short session saw $107 million invested in the Housing Trust Fund, as well as the elimination of the sunset on document recording fees. The fees are a large funding source for homeless services.

The fee will provide about $4 million biennially for Clark County services, Enslow said.

Speaking of funding, marijuana distribution funds were raised from $12 million to $18 million, so Vancouver will see a few thousand extra as a result Brown said.

The 2018 session is barely out of view, but Vancouver’s lobbyists are already heading toward 2019. Brown said they’ve already begun discussion about budget priorities and have three policy bills ready to go.

Transportation and the Columbia River bridge replacement top the list, as well as more work on housing and homelessness.

“I hope you’ll agree overall though we had a pretty good legislative session,” Brown said.

Columbian politics reporter
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