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Legislative Update

Summer Homework

It may be Summer, but Fairs have important homework to do...

WSFA Members,

As a follow up to our discussion at the spring meeting, here are the steps to your legislative “homework”. Taking the time to do these tasks will give us a better chance for legislative support in the future, specifically for continued capital budget support.
  • Step #1 – Send a thank you note to your legislator. Attached is a draft of a letter for you to personalize and send to you legislators thanking them for the legislatures support. Please make any changes you’d like, this draft only serves as a beginning template for your editing. You will notice the letter makes mention of an invitation to the legislator to visit your grounds.
  • Step #2 – Invite to the fairgrounds. Follow up on the invite in the letter with an email invite to your legislators. You have three of them per legislative district. At the bottom of this message, you will see links to the legislative district finder and a roster that includes email addresses. When do an invite I send the email to the legislative assistant (LA) and cc the legislator. LA’s set the schedule for most legislators and generally screen their emails as well. Think of an LA as the gatekeeper to you legislator.
  • Step #3 – The legislative visit. Show the legislator your grounds and what exactly the Capital Budget grant will be used for. Also, make sure to show them what the next project could be. As an association we are prioritizing asking the legislature to award a new round of grant funds. This meeting should be used to set the table for that. Also, discuss what the increase in the fair fund means as well. What programs are benefiting etc. Make sure the dollars that are coming from the state are personalized. Often legislators know about spending in the budget, but in broad terms. They like to hear what it did at the personal level.
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

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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