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Washington State Fairs Association Members –
WA Fairs – Legislative Update
Posted February 7, 2023

Week four of the 105-day 2023 Legislative Session is close to coming to an end. Hearings and
more hearings have been the primary activity of the legislature thus far. Committees are
conducting hearings on hundreds of the 1423 bills that have been introduced so far. We can
expect that number to get close to 2000 before the end of the session. Contrast that with the
State if Idaho where only about 100 bills have been introduced. The House and Senate have
also spent time on their respective “floors” passing bills for the first time. That’s of note, this is
the first time close to thirty legislators have ever been on the floor with all their colleagues’.
Several legislators elected two years ago had never spent any significant time in Olympia. The
furious pace of committee work will continue until the February 17th policy committee cut-off.
At that time, we will transition to floor action for about three weeks.

The session hasn’t really had one dominating issue, that’s a little strange compared to years
past. But the Housing issue is staring to rise to that level. There have been over thirty bills
introduced that deal with Housing directly or indirectly. Middle Housing, permitting, ADU’s,
Condo Liability and permit timelines are all addressed. It’s my belief that legislation in all five of
the areas listed will make it to the Governor by the end of April.

Another issue that is gaining attention is the “police chase” issue. There are a handful of bills
that have been introduced to provide some clarity under the law that was passed in 2021, the
Senate will be heard a bill this week that would set up a study of the issue to make
recommendations to the 2024 Legislature. This issue is interesting due to some of the players
involved and how politically charged it has become. One key Senator has announced her
intention to block anything more than further study. You likely have seen several articles on the
issue, was a prominent talking point during last fall’s political campaigns.

Agriculture has also been involved in an issue that is left over from 2021, Washington’s Climate
Commitment Act went into effect Jan. 1, putting a carbon surcharge fee on every ton of carbon
emissions from most fuels. The fee was expected to increase the cost of on-road gasoline and
diesel. Farm use fuel was to be exempt from the carbon fee. However, farmers are paying the
carbon fee even though it was clearly written in the law that their Ag related fuel was exempt.
Ecology failed to do the proper rulemaking in 2022, stating that it was up to the fuel supply
chain to create the process to exempt the right fuels from the carbon fee. Ecology issued a less
than adequate official interim guidance on Wednesday morning, stating that farmers could use
their exemption certificate to declare the fuel they buy as exempt. But there is no process in
place to remove the carbon fee from the exempt fuel. Farming advocates and the Governor’s
office are working towards a solution, the issue seems to be headed that way. This is a classic
example of the difficulty of enacting very complicated legislation.

Specific to Fairs, we have not seen legislation that is impactful. It’s been a quiet year thus far
on the policy side. Our focus has been on the Budget, more specifically the Capital Budget. We
are advocating for another round of Capital grant money. Key legislators have received a
formal request from Association leadership and membership has been asked to set their own

legislative meetings to show broad support. Member contact with legislators will be vital to our
success, please get those meetings scheduled!!

Feel free to contact Mike Burgess, our Olympia representative if you have any questions of
MikeJBurg@comcast.net 0r 360-223-3020

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Links –
District Finder – Washington State Legislature
Email Contact Roster - Washington State Legislature
Mike Burgess
MJB Consulting Inc.
Government Affairs

Additional issues

Below are two links to information from L&I with regard to employer/employment laws with information about minimum wage and ag overtime changes. Also, there are details on wage/benefit information that is now required in job postings.

This first link is a broad look at L&I changes. The second provides specificity about the wage/benefit info that is now required in job postings.

Laws affecting workers start Jan. 1 (govdelivery.com)


Andrea Thayer, CFE
WSFA President

2022 Session Recap:

Washington State Fairs Association – 2022 Legislative Report

The 2022 legislative session adjourned sine die on March 10, ending on the 60th day of session, a second session conducted entirely virtual. We continue to see significant numbers of bills introduced, with approximately 2000 pieces of legislation introduced in the 2021-22 Biennium, including 1050 in 2022 alone. With the overall challenges of the remote session, the volume of legislation during the 2021-22 Biennium was approximately three-quarters of what was introduced in 2019-20 Biennium.

Broadly, this session will be remembered for the passage of a new round of transportation spending with investments in road projects, transit, and electrifying the states ferry fleet. Soon, legislators will shift toward campaigning as this fall every member of the House and approximately half of lawmakers in the Senate will be up for election. Several lawmakers have announced that they will not run again, and we anticipate many new faces in the Legislature in 2023. A Supplemental Operating Budget proposal was agreed to in the final week of the session. Overall, General Fund spending increased by $5 billion when compared to the biennial budget adopted last year. That brings the total spending to just over $64 billion for the 2021-23 biennium, that’s an increase of almost 25% over the previous biennium.

Issues/Legislation of interest to WSFA –

Free Fair Admission – Late in the budget process an amendment was placed in the Senate budget that sought to make fair admission free in Washington. The amendment set aside $20 million dollars within the Department of Agriculture to reimburse fairs that chose to offer free admission to fair attendees. The proposal was a surprise to WSFA. The original language had a technical issue in that area fairs were excluded, that issue was taken care of as the Budget was passed from the Senate. Additionally, we had concerns that the $20 million would not have been enough to cover the concept if all fairs chose to offer free admission. To alleviate that concern we suggested language to budget writers that would have narrowed the scope of free admission to “youth”. It was our belief that amendment would protect a given fairs ability realize reimbursement. Throughout the final weeks of session WSFA made considerable outreach to legislators to protect fairs viability if the free admission language were to be part of the final budget. In the end the proposal was not included on the final budget agreement.

SB 5643 – Youth Development – This legislation provides that certain organizations representing the social and economic interests of farm and ranch families at the local, state, and national levels may sponsor youth development programs to promote participation in agricultural fairs, youth shows, and exhibitions. Additionally, the bill attempted to set in statute specific general fund support for youth development programs described in the bill. The bill passed the Senate but failed to pass the House.

SB 5531- Unclaimed Property - Unclaimed property is money or intangible property owed to an individual or business. Property is considered unclaimed after it has been held for a period of time with no owner contact, and a good faith effort has been made to locate the owner. Certain entities are required to report unclaimed property to the Department of Revenue (DOR), including banking and financial institutions, utilities, businesses, and governments. Unclaimed property is eventually given to the state to support the general fund. The bill modernized the statue to account for new forms/technologies such as electronic gift and reward cards. This issue matters to Fairs because premiums fall under the definition of money or property. Historically, premiums had been exempted from the unclaimed property statute. The original version of this legislation didn’t include the premium exemption but was later amended to maintain the status quo. Simply put, nothing changes for fairs regarding premiums that aren’t deposited or claimed. The bill passed the legislature and is awaiting signature by the Governor.

HB 1928 – Equine Industry Support – The bill created the “Washington Equine Industry Reinvestment Account” in the State Treasury. Resources going into the Reinvestment Account consist of any funds appropriated or transferred to the Reinvestment Account at the direction of the Legislature. Funds can be used for nonprofit race meets, grants to support equine activities, and equine health and safety programs and research and facility improvements and maintenance. The bill was reliant on a general fund transfer into the newly created account. The bill passed the House but failed to pass the Senate.

Looking to the remainder of 2022 and the 2023 legislative session Fairs will need to continue their outreach to legislators and build relationships. We will want to tell legislators about how important the Capital Budget support from last session is for fairs. That will help set the table for the grant program to continue next biennium. Look for WSFA to provide members with some “homework” to do with their legislators later in this spring.

Mike Burgess
MJB Consulting Inc.
Government Affairs

Driving Directions

  • Feel free to to drop by the Capital and speak with your legislator's office, or the Governor's office.
  • From I-5 Southbound: Take 'Exit 105 to State Capitol,' keep left for Exit 105A, and continue for 0.6 miles. Merge with traffic on the left and continue in the left hand lane of 14th Ave SW through the roundabout (Jefferson St.) and under the tunnel 0.4 mi to Capitol Blvd. Continue across Capitol Blvd to the Capitol Building on Sid Snyder Ave SW (14th Ave becomes Sid Snyder Ave).
  • From I-5 Northbound: Take Exit 105 and bear left for the State Capitol/City Center exit. Cross over Interstate 5 and keep in the left lane on 14th Ave SE. through the roundabout (Jefferson St) and under the tunnel 0.4 mi to Capitol Blvd. Continue across Capitol Blvd to the Capitol Building on Sid Snyder Ave SW (14th Ave becomes Sid Snyder Ave).

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