NWHPBA GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS REPORT
Happy Independence Day! I hope everyone has been able to get a reprieve from our recent heat waves and is finding some time to relax and unwind before the busy season. We’re all watching to see how the COVID reopenings impact our communities. I’m waiting to see if legislators are actually going to have in-person meetings again.
Even though legislators are home, there is still a lot going on for the hearth products industry. Below is an update on some things that are happening in the NWHPBA Government Affairs world. As always it is a bit Washington State heavy. If there is something you have a question about or think I have missed, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.
WASHINGTON STATE BUILDING CODE COUNCIL ALLOWS REPRIEVE ON PILOT LIGHTS
As part of the 2018 Washington State Energy Code updates that were effective on February 1 of this year, the State Building Code Council prohibited fireplace appliances from having continuous pilot lights. On demand, interrupted and intermittent pilot lights were allowed. NWHPBA was in support of this proposal.
However, because of supply chain issues related to the pandemic, the chips required to install non-continuous pilot lights are difficult to find and often not available.
At the request of NWHPBA, the Washington State Building Code Council adopted an emergency rule to allow continuous pilot lights for a short period of time – giving the industry a chance to catch up. This is a short-lived reprieve in effect from June 22, 2021, to October 20, 2021.
The State Building Code Council (SBCC) will revisit this emergency rule at their meeting on September 17. This will give NWHPBA a chance to update the council on the status of the chips and what the outlook looks like. Others will be given a chance to speak on the issue as well. At that meeting, the SBCC will determine whether to end the emergency rule early, let it expire on October 20, or adopt a rule allowing a longer delay of the prohibition on continuous pilot lights.
NWHPBA REACHING OUT ON ADEC/NESCAUM ISSUE
NWHPBA is working closely with the national HPBA to ensure that all EPA-Certified stoves are able to be sold in our region’s state and to make sure that both sides of the story are told when it comes to testing methodologies. Concerns were heightened in the region when Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, joined nine other state AG’s (including Oregon’s) in a letter to the EPA asking them to revoke the alternative testing methodologies. As a result, we have begun discussions to set up a meeting with the Washington State Attorney General and will have a series of meetings on this issue with the Washington State Department of Ecology.
If you have officials in your state that you think would benefit from a meeting with NWHPBA on this issue, please let me know at Carolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.
IDAHO ADJOURNS 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION – SORT OF
After 122 days, a record length for an Idaho legislative session, the Idaho Senate adjourned but the Idaho House did not. By not adjourning, the House says that if a special session is needed later in the year, they would not have to wait for Idaho Governor Brad Little to call them back in and they believe they could force the Senate back as well. This is an interesting twist for the Republican-controlled legislature that prides itself on heading back home by early April.
For NWHPBA, no major energy bills were passed that would impact members. Income tax and property tax relief bills did pass that could benefit NWHPBA members.
NWHPBA NEEDS YOUR HELP ON LOCAL ISSUES
With legislative sessions over, it is time to start watching local governments for changes to licensing ordinances or other local city or county council proposals that could impact your business. NWHPBA follows a tracking service and works with local builder associations and other coalitions to try and keep up with local issues but it is hard to cover that many areas. In addition, it would be nice to get involved on issues like gas bans while they are still in discussion rather than after the proposed ordinance is filed. We know that when we do get our members involved, public officials will listen.
Currently, we are aware of natural gas ban proposals being discussed in several Washington state cities. Bellingham continues to have discussions about a proposed ban on gas. Vancouver is also discussing a proposed ban. The City of Spokane started a discussion that prompted a local business group to react by gathering signatures on a “ban the ban” proposal to stop that discussion. That initiative is currently being validated and then the Spokane City Council will decide whether to adopt the “ban the ban” or send it to the voters in November.
So please watch your newspapers, check your local builder newsletters and let us know if you hear of anything we should know about. Your eyes on the ground are how we can gather the resources needed to help protect your business.
2021-23 WOODSTOVE CHANGE OUT GRANTS ARE COMING
With $3 million in the recently passed 2021-23 Washington State Capital Budget specifically earmarked for local wood stove change out programs, NOW is the time to make sure you are reaching out to your local clean air agency to find out how your business can be involved and offer your help.
Below is the list of regional clean air agencies in Washington state. Helping them get to know your business can help your business.
Benton Clean Air Agency — Benton County
Ecology Central Regional Office — Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan counties
Ecology Eastern Regional Office — Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman counties
Ecology Northwest Regional Office — San Juan County
Northwest Clean Air Agency — Island, Skagit, Whatcom counties
Olympic Region Clean Air Agency — Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, Thurston counties
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency — King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish counties
Southwest Clean Air Agency — Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania, Wahkiakum counties
Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency — Spokane County
Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency — Yakima County