There is good news! For over two years now, you have heard me talk about the need to bring a balance back to our state government by addressing the governor’s emergency powers. I have received input from so many of you on this topic and know that this has been heavily weighing on your mind since the early days of the pandemic. While I am disappointed the Legislature did not address this issue over the last two session, I am very glad to see that the governor has finally decided to end the state of emergency on October 31.
While this is cause for celebration, it is also long overdue and should have ended many months ago. After all, the Legislature serves as the voice of the people, and we have seen first-hand over the last two and a half years how your voice has been cutoff from decision-making. For the last two legislative sessions, Senate Republicans proposed common sense reforms that would have brought balance back to our state government as well as ensure your voice is heard. I am very hopeful we will be able to come together during the 2023 legislative session to pass an emergency powers reform bill to ensure your voice is never muted again. I believe that reform will look very similar to SB 5260 which was written by my predecessor, Hans Zeiger, and passed the legislature with a combined vote of 142-2.
Credit scores causing a hike in your insurance premiums?
You might have recently seen in the news that a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled that Washington’s insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, overstepped his authority when he ordered a ban on the use of credit scoring by our state’s auto and home insurers. This order caused many individuals – especially those who are elderly and have good credit, but are on a fixed income – to see their premiums increase.
Commissioner Kreidler asked the legislature to consider this proposal last session. When the legislature refused to pass his bill, he took it upon himself to implement the ban via agency rule-making. The judge found that Commissioner Kreidler’s order exceeds his authority as the legislature alone may suspend or amend their own statutes and this has been a longstanding statute.
While I am glad to see that the judge halted the insurance commissioner’s ban, this agency rule completely disrupted Washington state’s insurance marketplace and forced millions of Washingtonians to pay higher rates. It will take some time to get us back on track and will likely be a topic of the 2023 legislative session.
Condo Conversion: helping first time homebuyers achieve the American dream
As you may know, I sponsored SB 5758 last session. Among other things, this bill convened a workgroup and study to take a deep dive into the process of converting apartments and other multi-family housing units into affordable condominiums and providing Washingtonians the opportunity to move from renter to homeowner.
Washington state has one of the most constrained and least affordable housing markets in the country. One symptom of Washington lack of housing production is that prices are increasing faster than incomes can support—particularly for young households and first-time homebuyers who may struggle to save for a down payment, even if their incomes can support a mortgage. The price of new detached, single-family housing across the state has more than doubled in the past decade, with very limited production of housing units that are affordable to households earning less than 100% of Area Median Incomes. The conversion of apartment buildings, or other structures, to an affordable stock of ownership housing is one potential opportunity to fill Washington’s existing and growing need.
The study will analyze the feasibility of condominium conversions in Washington and evaluate the opportunities and barriers to converting existing apartments into condominiums. This project will culminate in a final report submitted to the Governor and the Legislature.
The Condo Conversion workgroup held its first meeting in late August and I’ll be sure to keep you informed as the study progresses. Stay tuned in for more!
While the Legislature is not currently in session, many meetings are still taking place. If you would like to see what’s happening, check out TVW to find a schedule of live work sessions and committee meetings. Additionally, our legislative home page offers agendas and information on meetings taking place during this time.
If you have any questions regarding these meetings or issues I can assist with, please reach out to my office by phone at (253) 840-4523 or by email at Chris.Gildon@leg.wa.gov.
It is an honor serving you!
Senator, 25 LD
Deputy Floor Leader