State Building Code Council
New Proposals to Limit Natural Gas in Residential Development
Last month (April 2022), the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) voted 11-4 to adopt the two code proposals which ban natural gas for use in space and water heating in new and retrofit commercial buildings. The code council is now working on the residential energy code which includes similar natural gas bans for space and water heating in new residential buildings. As the Technical Advisory Group continues to meet, we will continue to advocate how these proposals will continue to challenge construction, affordability, and continue to strain the electrical grid.
Proposal to Limit Carbon Steel and Concrete
The SBCC is considering a proposal that would require concrete manufacturers to cap the amount of carbon used in the manufacturing of steel and concrete. If passed, the proposal would ban concrete mixes with GWP numbers in the highest 25 percentile of currently reported environmental product declarations. The governing statute of the SBCC is prohibited from providing preferential treatment to certain building materials – like in this case steel and concrete. This limit would apply to steel and concrete products while other materials like wood, glass, and aluminum are exempted. This proposal fails to address supply chain issues and local market conditions while limiting competition and harming small, minority-owned businesses who may not be able to develop environmental declarations for their mixes. If you would like to attend and/or testify at the upcoming International Building Code (IBC) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting on May 25th, please use the following link.
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021
The IIJA has left many agencies with an enormous task of expanding, or completely creating new programs with ambitious objectives under this legislation. Many initiatives outlined in the IIJA represent generational investment opportunities for our communities to leverage federal funding for the greatest long-term impact. To help provide resources and technical assistance to state and local governments, White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator, Mitch Landrieu, created a guidebook that outlines what to apply for, who to contact, and how to get ready for funding opportunities. You can view the entire resource guide here.
Many programs have been implemented and notice of funding opportunities have either already been released or will continue well into the coming months.
One of these new programs is the new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary grant program which provides dedicated funding to support regional, local, and Tribal plans, projects, and strategies that will prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. President Biden and the U.S. Transportation Secretary recently announced the open application process for communities to apply for $1 billion in Fiscal Year 22 funding. We will continue to monitor these program announcements and share these NOFO calendars. You can see the entire Department of Transportation calendar and Department of Energy calendar here.
Conference Committee on Bipartisan Innovation and Competition Legislation
Just this month, Senator Cantwell (D-WA) kicked off the Conference Committee to reconcile a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and innovation package that is aimed at enhancing US competitiveness and promoting domestic manufacturing. The 107-member conference committee is tasked with reconciling differences between the Senate’s USICA and the House’s America COMPETES Act. The bills focus on bolstering domestic manufacturing – including $52 billion in semiconductor manufacturing subsidies, decreasing transportation costs, and investing over $45 billion to create a resiliency program aimed to ease supply chain issues. The chamber has been actively engaging on this front pushing for continued investment in manufacturing and advocating for the passing of the package. Senator Cantwell is chairing the conference and Rep. McMorris Rodgers, and Sen. Murray are conferees. You can watch their remarks from the first meeting here.
Engaging Our Local Leaders
Last Friday, we had the opportunity to meet with Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers (WA05) and discuss some of the key issues our businesses are facing. The House recently passed four bipartisan bills to support small businesses across the country. They include the Small Business Development Centers Improvement Act, Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act, SCORE for Small Business Act, and One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance. You can read more on the four bills here.
We also met with Washington State Rep. Dye out of the 9th District. We discussed key state legislation affecting our business climate including the cap-and-trade system through the new Climate Commitment Act, broadband expansion for rural economic development, and of course the recent state efforts against the use of natural gas. We will continue to engage and advocate for the business community regarding relevant public policy and regulation affecting our community.
Business-Friendly Webinar Series
The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce is partnering up with the Employment Security Department, GSI, and West Plains Chamber of Commerce to bring you important business webinar series. Last week we had our regional economist provide a recent update on the Spokane labor market. We learned how Spokane is the third-largest labor market in a state where there are currently 1.5 jobs for every job seeker. If you’re opening a business, want to expand your service market, or gain more customers, if you’re hiring employees or being asked to raise wages, labor market information can help you make those decisions much easier than without the information. Please join us next month for our next installation as we cover Washington Cares Fund.
Washington state’s Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund (BRLF) just received a $3.9 million grant from the EPA. A brownfield is a property commonly used for industrial purposes and requires environmental revitalization so it can be used for redevelopment. One of the most popular examples in the county is Spokane’s University District Brownfields Coalition Project. You can read more on the Brownsfield RLF here.
Government Action Committee
Join us for our next Government Action Committee on June 13th.
- When: Monday, June 13th
- Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- Where: Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce
Join us as we review all the candidates who officially filed for local, state, and federal office. We will also have a presentation from the Spokane Sports Commission Task Force regarding sports-related facilities in Spokane County.