Two bills from Rep. Volz, including one for wildfire recovery, signed into law by the governor

The governor signed into law two bills from Rep. Mike Volz on Monday, including House Bill 1899, which will provide assistance to people who lost their homes in last summer’s wildfires in Eastern Washington.

“My top priority this past session was to get assistance to the people in my district recovering from last summer’s wildfires,” said Volz. R-Spokane. “They are still hurting and trying to rebuild. This bill could have done so much more, but because it was amended by the majority party it won’t have as much impact as it would have if they had kept the original version.”

As originally introduced, the legislation would have required local governments to allow property owners to choose which building and energy codes they used in the reconstruction of their properties.

However, the bill was amended in committee and the substitute version of the bill calls for making assistance available to local governments, businesses, and individuals to repair or replace damaged or destroyed buildings, but in a more prescribed climate “friendly” way.

“I am happy we got something, but I’m concerned the relief could be too little, too late for those who need it now. I can only hope it will make a difference for the people who have lost so much.”

Under the original version of House Bill 1899, any building permit application for property damaged or destroyed by a wildfire during 2023, while an emergency proclamation from the governor was in effect, could have been permitted and built in accordance with the state building code and energy codes that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Under the final version, property owners must apply for assistance and build according to the new energy codes now in place.

Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it takes effect immediately.

The governor also signed House Bill 2014 on Monday, which will standardize the requirements relating to “qualifying discharges” to establish eligibility for various benefit programs for veterans.

“This bill only affects a small percentage of service members who didn’t receive an honorable or dishonorable discharge,” said Volz. “However, for the service members who currently lack these benefits, it is a big deal.

“This legislation won’t change any veterans current discharge status, but it will define what the standard is to qualify for benefits. Any service member that received a discharge other than dishonorable” should be eligible for all veteran benefits and programs, which is what this legislation will ensure.”

An individual’s veteran status is used as an eligibility requirement for various benefits and assistance programs. Under current law, in order to establish eligibility for various benefits and programs, veteran status is generally recognized for a service member who received an honorable discharge or other excusable discharge.

House Bill 2014 adds the term “qualifying discharge” to several provisions establishing various benefit programs for veterans, generally replacing references to “honorable discharge.”

The bill will also require the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement an outreach program to ensure that veterans are aware of the state veterans’ benefits and programs.

The bill will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the 2024 session, which concluded on March 7.


Washington State House Republican Communications