Gas Heating will be Restricted in New Commercial Buildings
Last Friday, the Washington State Building Code Council voted to adopt revisions to the state’s commercial building code which will require new businesses and apartments to restrict the use of natural gas in future commercial building heating systems.
One proposal, 21-GP1-103, requires electric heat pumps for all new commercial construction and retrofits and bans the use of natural gas for commercial space heating. Proposal 21-GP1-136 will do the same for water heating — banning natural gas water heating in new commercial construction and retrofits. This includes businesses that require large quantities of hot water such as commercial laundries, large hotels and restaurants. Finally and specific to multi-family housing construction, proposal 21-GP1-179 will require installation of an electric receptacle wherever a gas appliance is installed, adding significant cost with no efficiency or emissions reduction benefits.
These revisions will restrict energy choice, drive up building and energy costs and continue to force a reliance solely on electricity for energy needs without solving the strain this would have on our electric grid. The chamber has been actively advocating against these proposals leading up to the vote, as the changes will severely affect businesses and economy in Washington. The code updates will take effect on July 1, 2023.
Economic & Revenue Forecast Council Report indicate state-revenue collections up 7.5%
The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council recently released their latest Economic & Revenue Update which continues to support that March was a strong month in the labor market. Some of the industries with the largest job gains include food services, technical services and retail trade.
Unemployment in Washington state dropped to 4.2% while special COVID related unemployment insurance programs declined by $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter. On the revenue side, state-revenue collections are running more than $255 million above what it forecasted in February which is a 7.5% jump. Senate Republic Leader, Sen. Braun, released a statement calling for a special legislative session this year to suspend the state gas tax following the revenue report. You can read the complete revenue update below.
Regional Transportation Bus Tour
This month, we hosted Senator Murray’s Senior Advisor on Transportation and Economic Development, Amanda Wyma-Bradley, on a regional transportation bus tour with key stakeholders.
With the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure law, passed FY22 Appropriations bill, and the current FY23 Congressional Directed Spending applications, we met with transportation stakeholders to tour local projects being planned in our region.
We had a wonderful discussion on the challenges and opportunities in our region while showcasing our transportation system as a whole. The chamber will continue to drive collaboration to maintain and develop efficient transportation and infrastructure systems that power our economic growth.
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021
As we begin to see IIJA program implementation and funding distribution, we will continue to share updates to keep our communities informed. Many programs have been implemented and notice of funding opportunities have been released and will continue into the Summer. They include two types of funding opportunities: formula grants and discretionary grants. The Chamber will continue to monitor these program announcements and share these NOFO calendars. You can see the Department of Transportation calendar and Department of Energy calendar here.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3807, Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021. The bill provides an additional $42 billion for the refill of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund – aimed at assisting restaurants who were approved for funding but didn’t receive grants due to portal closing. According to the National Restaurant Association, “46% of restaurant operators that applied for an RRF grant but did not receive funding said it is unlikely that they will be able to stay in business beyond the pandemic, if they do not receive a grant through the RRF”. Currently, H.R. 3807, sits with the Senate as they deliberate the passing. You can read more on the National Restaurant Association’s COVID-19 Restaurant Impact Survey here.
Government Action Committee
Join us for our next Government Action Committee on May 9th.
- When: Monday, May 9th
- Time: 11:30 – 1:00
- Where: Greater Spokane Valley CoC
Join us for an update on City of Spokane Valley, City of Liberty Lake & Spokane Valley Fire Dept.