Senate passes two bills from Rep. Volz, including one to help people recovering from wildfires

The Washington State Senate voted in favor of two bills from Rep. Mike Volz on Friday, including House Bill 1899, which would provide assistance to people who lost their homes in last summer’s wildfires in Eastern Washington.

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 proscribed more climate “friendly” way.

“Ultimately, I’m happy we got something, but the new version of the bill doesn’t really hit the mark,” said Volz. “The original bill would have brought some immediate relief for those still suffering, but with the amended version, it could take more than a year, or even longer to receive assistance. How do you explain that to the people who need help now? I hope the new version does some good and hopefully it’s not too late.”

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.

Because the bill was amended by the Senate, it will go back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor to be signed into law.

The Senate also unanimously passed House Bill 2014, which would standardize the requirements relating to “qualifying discharges” to establish eligibility for various benefit programs for veterans.

“This bill would affect a small percentage of service members that did not receive an honorable or dishonorable discharge,” said Volz, R-Spokane. “But it’s a big deal for the service members who need these benefits. It will not change anyone’s level of service who has already received an honorable discharge.

“This legislation is simply trying to define what the standard is to qualify for benefits and under what circumstances. All service members with any discharge other than a dishonorable one, should have access to all veteran benefits and programs.”

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 would add the term “qualifying discharge” to several provisions establishing various benefit programs for veterans, generally replacing references to “honorable discharge.”

The bill would 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 now heads to the governor’s desk to await his signature.


Washington State House Republican Communications