Senate passes Brown’s bills to encourage job growth

Community Prosperity and Revitalization (CPR) Act will help resuscitate local economies, says Brown

Today the Senate voted 30-19 to pass the Community Prosperity and Revitalization (CPR) Act, aimed at helping local communities create jobs by speeding up the permitting process for large-scale projects of statewide significance. Earlier today the Senate also approved a bill to help create jobs in the building industry.

Sen. Sharon Brown, chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, is the sponsor of the two bills. They are the first major pieces of the pro-jobs agenda put forth by Brown and her Senate Majority Coalition Caucus colleagues to win Senate approval this year.

“The goal of the CPR Act is to help resuscitate some of our local economies – especially those in rural and economically depressed urban areas,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “The bill is focused on creating jobs in our state by encouraging economic development and making sure large-scale projects with large economic benefits get through the permitting process faster, and it would do so without changing the regulatory requirements.”

In 1997 a process was enacted to expedite the development of industrial projects of statewide significance. To qualify for this designation, a project must meet capital-investment or job-creation requirements.

Senate Bill 5111 would provide a way for local governments and state and federal agencies to streamline the review process for more projects of statewide significance and encourage a more timely completion of those projects. The measure would expand the number of projects eligible for that designation, to include slightly smaller projects in rural and urban areas.

Joshua Swanson with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 urged passage of the bill during its committee hearing earlier this year.

“One of the reasons businesses want this is because it establishes a definite timeframe and it is cost-effective,” said Swanson. “For us, the benefit is the end result. Once a permit is passed and the work is shovel-ready and in play, it is – as Senator Brown mentioned – a job-creation bill.

“We get the work and our members get family-wage jobs.”

Brown agreed, noting: “This process was successfully used for Boeing; why can’t we use it for other projects across the state as well?”

Senate Bill 5923, which passed the Senate by a vote of 33-15, would create a process for applicants for residential-building permits to apply for a deferral of impact-fee payments until final inspection or a certificate of occupancy is issued.

“In 2008 and 2009, banks decided to not loan to builders – a decision that had a devastating effect on the construction industry,” said Brown. “This bill allows some of our smaller builders to defer their impact fees – giving them an opportunity to grow and recover, and pay their impact fees closer to when those impacts actually occur.”

Both measures now go to the House of Representatives for its consideration.