Bill aims to help Washington improve climate change preparedness, response

A proposed bill aims to update Washington’s infrastructure and community planning as the effects of climate change become more apparent.

Senate Bill 5203 and its companion bill House Bill 1181 were introduced by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) and Rep. Davina Duerr (D-Bothell). The bill is designed to update the Growth Management Act with a ‘climate change and resiliency’ goal.

This includes updates like:

  • Increasing housing capacity in urban growth areas
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reducing pollution in historically impacted communities
  • Addressing adverse impacts from extreme weather events

"This is about protecting our homes and businesses from floods, wildfires, and droughts while reducing greenhouse gases," said Duerr. "Housing, transportation, and energy use are all related to how we plan—or fail to plan. When we do it right, it saves taxpayer money and creates a healthier, more sustainable state for all of us."

Governor Jay Inslee—a longtime advocate for measures to combat climate change, making it his top priority during his 2020 presidential bid—called for lawmakers to continue pushing for this type of legislation. Inslee requested these two bills, specifically, to be introduced in this year’s session.

"This bill is an important step forward for local governments to plan ahead and be prepared for the challenges posed by climate change," said Lovelett. "Our state has long been a leader on climate action, and this policy will help to ensure that our development is sustainable, that our communities and infrastructure are resilient, and that we are protecting our open spaces and quality of life for future generations to enjoy."

According to Lovelett and Duerr, the bill would make funding available to support communities statewide in complying with the new requirements.

RELATED: Flood victims hope for state assistance from extreme winter weather in Pierce County

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"One of the most important ways to protect communities from the impacts of climate change and to reduce overall emissions is to plan for it," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "Last session we came incredibly close to passing a version of this bill. I hope this is the year we can finish the job. Fully addressing climate change will require intentional and cooperative action at all levels of government."