The Washington State Legislature has a “short session” shot clock of 60 days (unless they play into overtime). Like its neighbor to the south, Washington is grappling with a gaping budget hole that is the prime focus of the session. However, energy issues are a significant sidebar for this 2010 session. NEEC’s top legislative priority is HB 2156 (JOBS Act) prime sponsored by Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish). HB 2156 was the first bill passed by the House of Representatives in this year’s session. Since then, the bill has resided in the Senate Ways & Means Committee awaiting action. HB 2156 would authorize the state to sell $850M of bonds which would be used to invest in energy efficiency upgrades to K-12 schools, higher education, and other public facilities. The bond proceeds would be distributed as grants, leveraging an additional $1.5B of funds for these infrastructure improvements. The job creation opportunity from this level of effort would be significant boost to the staggering Washington economy. With only a few short weeks left in this session, NEEC and its governmental affairs specialist, Gordon Thomas Honeywell, are working hard to secure key legislative support to move this bill through the Senate. Other legislation of interest supported by NEEC included SB 6656. This bill would have established a pilot program in a select group of Puget Sound communities allowing municipalities to issue revenue bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements secured against personal property. The idea was first introduced as a statewide concept but rolled back early in this session after it hit opposition from eastern Washington utilities. This bill appears to be dead in this legislative session. For additional information on energy legislation in Washington, check out the bill tracker at the NEEC web site.
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