Local state representatives draft legislation making it easier for fire victims to rebuild

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CONTACT: Kent Livingston, Public Information Officer for Rep. Mike Volz | 360-786-7031
Kurt Hammond, Senior Public Information Officer for Rep. Suzanne Schmidt | 360-786-7794

Local state representatives draft legislation making it easier for fire victims to rebuild

Spokane-area legislators, Reps. Mike Volz and Suzanne Schmidt, are proposing legislation in the upcoming 2024 legislative session to make it easier for fire victims to rebuild after losing their homes to wildfires.

The two state representatives, whose 6th Legislative District and 4th Legislative District include areas devastated by the Gray Fire and Oregon Road Fire, respectively, say many residents who have lost their homes are now losing hope as they realize new state building regulations mean more time and more money to rebuild. As a result, in numerous cases, insurance will not cover the cost to replace what was lost.

“Rebuilding and recovery is painful enough without the addition of burdensome regulations that were adopted this summer, right before the fires that devastated many parts of Spokane County,” said Volz, R-Spokane. “There are many homeowners out there whose insurance was based on regulations in place as of January 1, 2023. The new regulations imposed already this year by the state building code council – and those that may yet be imposed before the end of the year – potentially add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of rebuilding. I think giving a break to those who have lost everything in the recent wildfires is the least we can do at the state level and I urge my colleagues across the aisle to support this commonsense, much-needed proposal.”

Schmidt’s and Volz’s bill would apply to any property damaged during the wildfires of 2023 and allow victims to rebuild under building codes in effect on Jan.1, 2023. The bill covers property owners that apply for building permits by June 20, 2025.

“Homeowners trying to rebuild need some level of certainty,” said Schmidt, R-Spokane Valley. “No one is truly prepared for the kind of devastation we saw around the Elk and West Plains communities. But then again, no one is prepared for the devastation after the devastation. Finding out you can’t afford to rebuild in a timely manner because of new, excessive state regulations is a gut punch fire victims cannot afford.”

The two legislators say they are finalizing their draft of the legislation and will have it ready to go on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, which begins Monday, Jan. 8.

They also expect support in the Washington State Senate as their seatmates, Sen. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, have been working on the issue as well.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov