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State rent control ban won’t be lifted this year

An effort to make rent control an option fizzled out in the Washington State Legislature

Joanna Aponte/Shutterstock

With Friday’s legislative cutoff date come and gone, certain Washington State bills that haven’t made it out of committee are officially dead—and among them, a bill that would have lifted the state ban on rent control, which has been in place since 1981. The Seattle Met first reported the bill’s fate after a City Council briefing Monday.

Nicole Macri, who represents a Seattle district in the Washington State House, first announced she’d be introducing the legislation back in December at a rally outside a landlord conference. While committee hearings concerning the house bill and its companion in the Senate in Olympia were packed—not everyone who signed up to speak even fit into the allotted time—neither bill ultimately moved forward.

While the bill was first introduced this year, there’s been growing momentum to call on the state to lift the rent control ban. In 2015, the City Council passed a resolution calling for the law to be changed. The city’s 2017 legislative agenda, which was approved by the City Council earlier this week, also calls for “repeal or modification” of the law “to allow local governments to protect tenants from rent increases, without causing a negative impact on the quality or quantity of housing supply.”

It’s not unusual for bills winding through the state legislature to take multiple attempts to advance. The Washington State Voting Rights Act and Reproductive Parity Act, for example, both just passed the Senate this year after dying in Senate committee for several years in a row. Both those bills’ sluggish movement was attributed to a Republican-controlled Senate, though, which is not an issue this year.