April 15, 2019
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Legislature passes 100-percent clean energy bill

The House passed Senate Bill 5116, which requires the state to eliminate fossil fuels, including natural gas and coal, from the state's power supply by 2045.

The Senate passed the bill last month, but the House made some changes to it, so it will go back to the Senate for a final vote.

AWB has expressed concerns about the bill. Some of those initial issues have been addressed, but AWB remains concerned and will continue to work with lawmakers to protect grid reliability and Washington’s low-cost power, which is one of the state’s key competitive advantages.

The measure initially passed the Senate on a 28-19 vote last month on the same day that Gov. Jay Inslee formally announced his run for the presidency on a carbon-reduction platform.

Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, said she hopes the bill sets the standard for other states.

“I know that what we are doing is building a different future,” she said.

Hydro-dependent Washington is already one of the cleanest and greenest states in the nation, with 75 percent of its electricity coming from carbon-free sources. This measure would mandate an end to coal as an energy source by 2025 as the first step toward a carbon-free energy supply by 2045.

Existing carbon would count toward the goal. The penalty for non-compliance would be $100 for each megawatt-hour, or higher for usage of energy from coal and other carbon-heavy sources.

Opponents expressed concern about baseload generation and the reliability of the power grid as more electricity comes from intermittent sources such as wind and solar.

“I hope that we don’t have rolling brownouts,” said Rep Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “I would hate to see Washington state enter into something that makes us less competitive, and less effective in the future and puts our resiliency on the line. Because that would be detrimental to all of us.”

Contact Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for energy and environmental policy, to learn more.

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Spring Meeting
State Funding

Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal

By The Columbian Editorial Board

Efforts in the Legislature to remove a lid on local school levies represent a step backward for school funding in Washington. Rather than invite a return to inequitable funding and open the door for lawsuits, lawmakers should provide state funding where necessary and adhere to a hard-fought agreement.

Following the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling in McCleary v. Washington, lawmakers took five years to hammer out a compromise in which the state would fully fund public K-12 education. That compromise limited local levies to $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value or $1,500 per student, whichever is less.

That was the promise lawmakers gave to taxpayers in 2017 -- state property taxes would increase in order for the Legislature to live up to its "paramount duty" of funding basic education. In exchange, local levies would decrease. The adjustments would prevent inequalities between districts that were at the heart of the McCleary decision; local levies had been used to fund basic expenses such as teacher salaries, creating disparities between wealthy districts and poor districts.

Now, school districts want the Legislature to keep both state and local property taxes high. Senate Bill 5313 would allow districts to tax up to $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed value -- a 67 percent increase from the current law -- or $2,500 per student, depending on a district's enrollment.

Passage of such a plan would put the state on the road to McCleary 2.0. It would invite the return of an unfair funding system that triggered the lawsuit in the first place and that had the amenities of a public education determined by a student's ZIP code.

Read the full editorial in The Columbian
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