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Washington State and Local Legislative Update

There are lots of legal updates relevant to the real estate world as we kick off the new year. The Washington State Legislature convened for a 60-day legislative session, the new Seattle City Council is getting to work, and Bellevue is preparing for an influx of Amazonians.

On the state side of things, over 1,000 bills have been introduced since the 60-day session kicked off two weeks ago. There are several bills worth following, some good for the real estate community and some bad.

- The push for a state capital gains tax refuses to die. HB 1172 (SB 5314) would enact an 8% state capital gains tax beginning in 2020.

- HB 2452 would revert the state Real Estate Excise Tax back to a flat 1.28% for multi-family housing. The thought being that making housing more expensive doesn’t lead to increased affordability. I have to say, I agree.

- Expansion of the property tax exemption for multi-family housing in urban growth areas is being proposed in HB 2620 (SB 6411).

- Additional residential tenant protections under HB 2453 (SB 6379) including requiring landlords have “Just Cause” to evict a tenant or elect not to renew their lease.

On the Seattle side of things, there are two big-ticket items that we should expect to see this year.

- The reintroduction of Sawant’s crudely, but aptly named “Amazon” tax that is projected to raise anywhere between $200 million and $500 million annually. This is the head tax on large employers.

- Possible introduction of impacts fees to help fund transportation needs.

On a completely unrelated matter, Bellevue may be gaining as many as 25,000 new jobs as Amazon has significant plans for expansion on the east side of Lake Washington. It will be interesting to see if Bellevue can beef up their infrastructure to handle the increased traffic.

We will continue to provide updates on these and other measures as the bills are introduced and as they progress through the legislative process. Full text and information on the bills can be found at https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary

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