OLYMPIA — A proposal to limit rent hikes in Washington gained the approval of a House budget committee Saturday and continues its trek through the statehouse.
The House Appropriations Committee advanced a version of the bill that would limit annual increases in rent to 7 percent for existing tenants, up from a 5 percent limit in an initial proposal.
In order for House Bill 2114 to survive, it has to get the go-ahead from a full vote of the House by Feb. 13. If the House passes the bill, it would still need vetting and approval from the Senate in order to pass.
The path ahead for the proposal has grown thornier since a Senate version died in committee last week. The Senate Housing Committee had appeared to pass a companion bill limiting annual increases even higher, at 15 percent, but that proposal died after a member of that committee — Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver — said she wouldn’t sign in favor.
The proposal has heightened a debate in Olympia about what policies would truly address the housing crisis — with opponents criticizing artificial price limits as counterproductive in a state with a severe shortage of housing, and proponents arguing that tenants need relief from expensive rent hikes.
In the past year, state lawmakers have acted to make it easier to build more places for people to live, like passing legislation to loosen zoning to allow more multifamily housing. On the first day of session, Jan. 8, the House passed House Bill 1245, which would make it easier to split residential lots, a policy intended to allow more development.
Rep. April Connors, R-Kennewick, recommended her colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee on Saturday vote no on advancing the bill.