NW REporter

News In Brief: December 2021

  • During a press event in Glasgow, Gov. Jay Inslee announced an executive order to fully electrify Washington state’s public fleets and transition to a 100% zero-emission light duty fleet by 2035. The governor also ordered switching to 100% zero-emission medium and heavy-duty state fleets by 2040. Inslee made the announcement as part of a coalition of 68 state, regional, and city governments working to address the climate crisis by signing actions to cut emissions by 2030. The governor also pledged to require 100% of new cars to be zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2035 and 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045. He also pledged to ensure 100% net zero operating emissions for new building construction starting in 2030.
  • Idaho is the least regulated state in the nation, a study from George Mason University says. Idaho has somewhere around 35,000 regulations. In comparison, Oregon has 205,000 and Washington has 200,000. Gov. Brad Little says cutting regulations was one of his main campaign goals. Little issued two executive orders,–the Red Tap Reduction Act and Licensing Freedom Act–in an effort to remove barriers for growth. Little also consolidated 11 separate agencies to reduce costs and regulations.
  • Washington’s redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. In a statement the panel said the job would now go to the high court. Washington’s 2021 commission consists of four voting members – two Democrats and two Republicans – appointed by legislative caucus leaders. The Democratic appointees were former legislator Brady Piñero Walkinshaw and state labor-council leader April Sims; Republican commissioners were former state legislators Joe Fain and Paul Graves.
  • Steve Francks, RCE, CAE and the CEO of Washington REALTORS® is the 2021 recipient of the William R. Magel Award of Excellence, an NAR award presented to an individual who has truly excelled in his or her role as an association executive of a REALTOR® association. The William R. Magel Award of Excellence is presented annually to an association executive of a REALTOR® association. The most compelling candidates for the award are those who are well-known within the AE community, with an extensive record of participation, mentorship and contributions that is consistent with the Award’s qualifications.
  • Updated numbers by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council show that projected revenue collections for the 2021-2023 state budget cycle are $898 million above what had been originally forecasted in September. And projections for the next two-year budget cycle that ends in mid-2025 increased by more than $965 million. Revenues for the current budget cycle that ends mid-2023 are now projected to be $60.2 billion. And projected revenues for the next two-year budget cycle that starts July 1, 2023 are projected to be about $64 billion.
  • A real estate firm is suing Oregon lawmakers over a new state law that bans real estate professionals from delivering “love letters” written from home buyers to sellers when submitting an offer on a house. The lawsuit alleges that the state ban violates the First Amendment rights of real estate brokers and their clients. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the Total Real Estate Group. “This censorship is based on mere speculation that sellers might sometimes rely on information in these letters to discriminate based on a protected class,” the lawsuit alleges. Buyer love letters have come under scrutiny over recent months as their popularity has grown. They are most likely to be used by buyers in multiple-offer situations and in transactions where buyers are trying to make their offer stand out from the pack by expressing their desire for a home. Industry leaders, however, believe these letters could sway sellers to choose or discard a buyer’s bid based on personal information, like about the buyer’s family, marital status, race, religious status, or more, that could violate fair housing laws. The National Association of REALTORS® has warned real estate professionals about the practice and has recommended agents advise their buyers not to write them. NAR’s recommendations have evolved to advising clients about the risks of love letters, and at a minimum, stressing the importance of avoiding including any information in the letter that could be used to illegally discriminate. Agents should also avoid helping buyer clients to draft or deliver love letters, although NAR has not formally barred their use. Oregon is the first state to implement an outright ban on the practice. Oregon’s law is set to take effect in January. Real estate professionals in the state then would not be allowed to pass along these letters from buyers that include details about their lives, along with any photographs and videos. Real estate professionals in favor of the letters say these personal expressions can help their buyers stand out in a competitive situation and demonstrate a strong desire for the home. In the lawsuit, the real estate group also argues that they have not been shown any examples of fair housing complaints or lawsuits that have stemmed from a buyer love letter. “This censorship is based on mere speculation that sellers might sometimes rely on information in these letters to discriminate based on a protected class,” according to the lawsuit.
  • Steve Hobbs has been sworn in as Washington’s 16th secretary of state. He’s the first person of color to head the office and the first Democrat to hold the position in 56 years. Hobbs, who is of Japanese descent, is leaving his Senate seat representing the 44th legislative district to replace Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Wyman was the fifth consecutive GOP secretary of state in Washington dating back to 1965. She is leaving the state to take a key election security job in the Biden administration.
  • Mayor Jenny Durkan that crews working to repair the West Seattle Bridge are on track to finish the project and have the bridge back open for vehicular traffic sometime in mid-2022. The city closed the bridge in March 2020 after questions were raised about its structural integrity following the discovery of cracks in the bridge. Once the bridge was closed to traffic, the city had to decide if it wanted to erect a new bridge in its place or repair the existing bridge, which opened in 1984 and was projected to have a life of at least 40 years. The city opted to repair the bridge in order to open it sooner for the thousands of motorists who use it every day. A West Seattle High-Rise Bridge Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) report concluded earlier this year that the city could proceed with spending $47 million to repair the bridge. Officials said the city secured $19 million in funding from the federal government to help pay for the needed repairs along with $9 million from the Port of Seattle.