Happy news to share out of Olympia tonight: All forty-nine Washington State senators have voted to pass a bill that would establish a grant program to upgrade seismically vulnerable school buildings in Washington State, providing sorely needed funds to ensure our kids have safe facilities to learn in.
Prime sponsored by Senator David Frockt (D‑46th District: Seattle), Substitute Senate Bill 5933 would provide funding for school districts and state tribal compact schools to use in remediating seismic or tsunami hazards in qualifying buildings. The version of the legislation adopted by the Senate explicitly states that vertical evacuation towers (which some coastal school districts wish to build) are an eligible remediation solution for schools in tsunami hazard areas.
SSB 5933 is one of NPI’s top ten legislative priorities for the 2022 session.
Our research finds that a majority of Washington voters (52%) think that upgrading seismically vulnerable schools is primarily a state responsibility, rather than a local responsibility (29%). We released our finding last week.
Thankfully, the Legislature is listening.
“Hundreds of school buildings across the state, from tsunami zones on the coast to seismically active areas inland, face a high risk of serious damage,” said Frockt.
“Low-probability but catastrophic risks like earthquakes and tsunamis are some of the hardest for communities to guard against.”
“The cost is high, and the likelihood for any one town is that its schools will be spared a disaster, making it hard to justify funding.
“But when multiplied by all the communities in potentially geologically active areas across our state — one with an unusually high risk of seismic activity, as Mt. St. Helens demonstrated so lastingly — this problem is urgent.”
We wholeheartedly agree, and we thank Senator Frockt for introducing this legislation and shepherding it through the Senate. It’s not every day that a bill with a scope this big gets a 49–0 vote of approval! Because the roll call was unanimous and no senators missed the vote, there are only yeas:
School seismic safety grants
3rd Reading & Final Passage
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Braun, Brown, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Das, Dhingra, Dozier, Fortunato, Frockt, Gildon, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Holy, Honeyford, Hunt, Keiser, King, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, McCune, Mullet, Muzzall, Nguyen, Nobles, Padden, Pedersen, Randall, Rivers, Robinson, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Schoesler, Sefzik, Sheldon, Short, Stanford, Trudeau, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Warnick, Wellman, Wilson (Claire), Wilson (Lynda), Wilson (Jeff)
It’s great to see this bipartisan show of support from all of our elected senators. Democrats and Republicans came together tonight to do something really, really good for the people of Washington State. This is a victory worth toasting!
We are absolutely elated and look forward to continuing our advocacy for this important cause in the State House of Representatives with Gerry Pollet, Liz Berry, and our other champions. If the House passes the bill with no changes before the end of session, it would go to Governor Jay Inslee to be signed into law.
With levy and bond measures in rural communities continuing to fail, this legislation will be a lifeline for many Washington school districts that have struggled to figure out how to upgrade or replace decrepit, unsafe buildings that were built decades ago but remain in use today.