Short bills become law, cut red tape for small cities

Other new laws sponsored by 7th District senator promote bone-marrow donations, clarify liability at hydroelectric dams


OLYMPIA — Two bills sponsored by Sen. Shelly Short reducing the burden of state land-use planning requirements on small cities have been signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. That makes a total of five bills passed by Short, R-Addy, during the 2023 session.

Senate Bill 5457 gives small, slow-growing cities a break from state requirements for regular updates to their comprehensive plans. The bill allows cities of less than 500 people to opt out of full planning requirements under the Growth Management Act, the state’s land-use law.

Senate Bill 5374 allows small cities to adopt county critical area ordinances rather than conducting their own inventories of significant environmental features.

“One of our biggest issues this year in the state Legislature was promoting affordable housing,” Short said. “State regulation adds significantly to the cost of new construction, and we’ve been taking a long, hard look at places where the Growth Management Act might be made less burdensome on local governments. For many slow-growing rural areas, GMA is overkill. These bills are an incremental step, and I will continue my effort to address inequities GMA has created for our rural cities and counties.”

Other bills sponsored by Short in 2023 that became law were:

Senate Bill 5065, encouraging awareness of bone marrow donation programs at the high school level. The measure authorizes schools to offer programs educating students about donor registries and their eligibility to participate, generally between the ages of 18 and 49. Signed by the governor May 1.

Senate Bill 5145 clarifies state statutes regarding liability for recreational activities near federally licensed dams. When dams are operated in accordance with their licenses, boaters, swimmers and fishers must proceed at their own risk. Signed by the governor April 25.

Senate Bill 5066 subjects health care benefit managers to the scrutiny of the Office of Insurance Commissioner. Benefit managers have become significant players in the health insurance industry, particularly in prescription-drug programs. The measure requires benefit managers to provide contracts and amendments to the insurance commissioner’s office. A partial veto of the bill by Gov. Jay Inslee April 20 eliminates an emergency clause and causes the new law to take effect in July.