Civic Action Team

2022 Legislative Recap

After a whirlwind two months we’ve reached the end of the 2022 state legislative session. With a few notable exceptions, our legislators let us down on climate justice policy this session. This should be a call to action for all of us: vote for climate champions in the 2022 primary and general elections.

Here’s how we anticipated the session. Here’s how our priorities fared this year:


We made major progress on transit and bike lanes, but were left with the status quo on highway expansion.

The legislature passed a $17 billion transportation package with groundbreaking levels of investment in transit, and rolling and walking infrastructure. 350 WA, working in coalition with Front and Centered, Disability Rights Washington, and the Transit Riders Union in the Just Transition for Transportation campaign, advocated for investing in transit and human powered transportation while stopping highway expansion. Unfortunately the legislature remains invested in highway expansion, in spite of the resulting 8.8 million tons of carbon emissions highlighted by our team. We count it as major progress and a credit to our work that increasing numbers of legislators are beginning to understand the ineffectiveness of highway expansion and the associated impacts to public health and climate that our strong coalition brought to light.

Growth Management Act

The “sprawl loophole” was closed but adding climate measures to the Growth Management Act (GMA) failed, literally in the eleventh hour.

Futurewise coordinated a strong campaign for several GMA bills this year. SB 5042, Growth Management Act Update, closes a loophole that allows local jurisdictions to avoid following their GMA plans, and we are thrilled to see it pass. However, a poison pill in committee and a failure of leadership in the House crushed our hopes for HB 1099, Climate in the Growth Management Act. It was one of the strongest climate bills considered this year but it failed to pass.

HB 1099 would have helped counties mitigate the effects of a changing climate, and would have supported state greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements and per capita vehicle miles traveled goals. Without the bill’s passage, high population counties are left without the necessary tools and support to implement climate resiliency in their upcoming comprehensive plans, which are updated only every eight years.

Building electrification

In another climate setback, the legislature made almost no progress on eliminating the use of fossil fuels in buildings.

The fossil gas utilities and their allies in the building industry carried the day, defeating three of four bills that sought to decarbonize the building sector, Washington’s fastest growing source of climate pollution.

After Healthy Homes Clean Buildings failed to pass in 2021, it was split into four bills this session. Only one passed, SB 5722, Building Performance Standards, affecting large, new buildings. That is a necessary but modest step. The hard work comes in addressing existing buildings, as HB 1770, Energy Codes, would have begun to do, and fuel switching, as HB 1767, Targeted Electrification, would have allowed. HB 1766, Clean Heat Transition Plans, would have required the gas industry to adopt regular planning cycles to address their need to decarbonize.

As advocates, we must pay attention to the way we heat and cool our buildings and push all our legislators to move away from fossil gas and toward clean electricity. Washington should be a leader in this area.

Middle housing and density

Given the widespread need for affordable housing across our state, legalizing ‘middle housing’ options statewide, as Oregon has done, is widely seen as the most effective solution. But HB 1782, Expand Higher Density Housing, was fought tooth and nail. Suburban Democrats watered down the bill in committee and the Association of Washington Cities opposed it every step of the way, arguing for local control. It died on the House floor, buried in adversarial amendments. A more modest bill, HB 1660, Accessory Dwelling Units, made it to the Senate floor but also died without a vote.

Clean energy 

Since 2019’s Clean Energy Transformation Act, a clean grid has been less of a legislative focus, and with the passage of last year’s Clean Fuels Standard and Climate Commitment Act, attention has shifted to enabling clean energy production. HB 1812, Modernizing EFSEC for Clean Energy Goals, streamlines siting requirements, while SB 5910, Renewable Hydrogen, incentivizes the production of “green” hydrogen. Meanwhile, HB 1682, Business Emissions Reductions, which sought to define a post-2040 compliance pathway for large polluters covered by the Climate Commitment Act, failed to move forward but is well-positioned for consideration next year.

This year the legislature also passed HB 1814, Community Solar, which supports community solar projects.

Tribal sovereignty 

The legislature passed two bills on Tribal consultation that we were tracking. HB 1753, Tribal Consultation/Climate Commitment Act, replaced the section of the Climate Commitment Act that was controversially vetoed by the Governor last year, and HB 1717, GMA Planning/Tribes. Since both received broad support from legislators we didn’t emphasize them in our advocacy.

Landfill methane

Zero Waste Washington successfully moved two climate victories.

With every pound of methane gas equivalent to 80 pounds of CO2, reducing methane emissions is essential and needs to happen immediately. In what was probably the session’s most significant climate victory, HB 1799, Organic Materials Management, will divert organic material from landfills to composting, reducing methane emissions. And because, nationally, 15% of methane comes from landfills, we are glad to see Washington stepping up to do its part by passing HB 1663, Reducing Methane Emissions from Landfills. It will extend methane capture to more landfills across the state.

Police accountability 

After a landmark session last year for limiting police violence, the legislature rolled back limitations on police use of force.

A small group of progressive legislators were unable to prevent the passage of HB 2037, Modifying the Standard for Use of Force by Peace Officers, which expanded the use of force. Following the lead of the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, 350 WA opposed HB 2037. The legislature did enact HB 1735, Modifying the Use of Physical Force by Peace Officers, requiring police to provide life-saving measures, which 350 WA supported.

Other bills which sought to improve police accountability did not pass, and we expect to continue advocating for them next session.

Next year

2023 will be a longer 90-day session. We expect to see the return (with new bill numbers) of the RENEW Act’s ambitious reimagining of our state’s recycling systems, other producer responsibility bills, as well as the Growth Management Act, building electrification and middle housing policies that were defeated this year.

For a complete list of the bills CAT advocated for, visit this document. For a more exhaustive list of the climate bills from this session, go here.

To join the Civic Action Team’s advocacy work next session, sign up here.