They’re in an upbeat mood. We’ve got a definition of middle housing

It’s Day 3 of the 2023 legislative session. Good feelings can’t last forever as committee hearings and votes begin.

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2023 Washington Legislature, Day 3 of 105

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 11, 2023 — Welcome to Day 3.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs put aside their political differences today to cheer on the Seahawks ahead of their playoff game. They did so by raising the 12th Man flag here at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, under the dome and throughout the hearing rooms, the mood seems pretty upbeat in the early going.

House Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox set the tone with speeches in the opening hour Monday focused on respecting each other and the institution, not inflaming partisan fires wherever possible. And both earned standing ovations.

Inslee on Tuesday received a similar welcome from both sides of the aisle when he arrived for his State of the State. There were no surprises in this year’s oration right down to his closing with two issues he knew would play well with Democrats — an assault weapons ban and constitutional protections for access to abortions. Republicans sat quietly, likely thinking about how neither of those initiatives will make it to the finish line.

On the Move

Senate Bill 5000 designating January as the month for recognizing contributions of Americans of Chinese descent is set for a committee vote Friday. What’s the big deal? You’ll need to ask House Democrats.

When Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, authored a similar bill in 2022, his colleagues passed it 48-0. But it lapsed in the House.

Some Democrats there think it should be another month, like May. Others don’t appreciate the very personal tone and aggressive tactics of the Washington Asians for Equality, whose members are lobbying loudly for passage. Right now, it looks the Senate wants to move it along swiftly and give the House plenty of time to wrestle with it.

What is ‘middle housing’?

I got asked this week what lawmakers mean by “middle housing.” I didn’t know, couldn’t fake it. So I read Senate Bill 5190 (and the companion House Bill 1110). These are bipartisan legislative vehicles to get more housing built in existing neighborhoods, especially those close to major transit stops.

Here’s how they define it: “Middle housing means buildings that are compatible in scale, form, and character with single-family houses and contain two or more attached, stacked, or clustered homes including duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments, and cottage housing.”

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Local Government, Land Use and Tribal Affairs will discuss SB 5190 and may vote on it too.

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