Issues in Action

New Mask Guidance for Construction, Office Spaces

May 21, 2021

The Department of Labor and Industries today released updated guidance on masking and social distancing for fully vaccinated employees on construction jobsites and in offices.

Consistent with the new masking guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control last week, employees who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear a mask or physically distance with certain limitations. However, local jurisdictions may adopt guidelines that are more strict. Please be sure to check local guidelines before making any changes.

Before ending their mask and social distancing requirements, employers are required confirm employees are vaccinated either by obtaining a signed attestation or proof of vaccination.

The new guidance requires employers to prove they have verified vaccination status for workers who are not masked or physically distanced by:

  • Creating a log of workers who have verified they’ve been vaccinated and the date of verification;
  • Checking vaccination status each day as workers enter a jobsite; or
  • Marking a worker’s badge or credential to show that they are vaccinated.

All other Construction COVID-19 Job Site Requirements remain in effect until further notice.

Mason County Permit Time Improvement

The current pandemic has brought about a remote work scramble for workplaces everywhere, including government agencies. This has led to many lessons being learned and, in some cases, improvements being made.  The Mason County permit office saw a backlog of permits coming in like a perfect storm. This was due, in part, to the increase in remote working and average citizens having more free time to get a permit in for that deck they always wanted.  

Over the past yearOlympia Master Builders, along with their Mason County Chapter, has been working with local elected and building officials in order to improve permit times. On April 1st, 2021 the OMB Mason County Chapter, along with Heidi McCutcheon from the Mason County Chamber of Commerce and Kell Rowenthe Mason County Community Development Coordinator, all sat down for a virtual meeting to work out the case of backlogs.  

One of the main issues members have had is with scheduling. Since the meeting, Mason County has adjusted staffing to make scheduling more efficient.  Kell also has the State of Washington’s efficiency improvement team coming in this week to help make adjustments.  She is confident this will help to improve times even more than we have already seen in the past two months. 

Olympia Master Builders will continue to provide a voice on behalf of its members and is thankful to work with such an active Chamber of Commerce that is helping to give a voice to businesses. This is one of the many ongoing issues that OMB is currently working on for its members. We would like to thank Kell and her team at the Mason County Permit office for continuing to work on this process. 

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to the Olympia Master Builders Government Affairs Director, Jason Gano, at 


The 2018 energy code will be implemented on February 1st

On January 19th, 2021, Governor Inslee chose to veto the Washington State Building Code Councils (WSBCC) vote to delay the implementation of the Energy code. The council members thought that due to COVID-19, a further extension was needed.  

The WSBCC, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature, believed the extension would have allowed builders the time necessary to adjust business plans, as well as given them the time they needed to better understand the new code so that they could properly abide by the new regulations.

The 2018 energy code will be implemented on February 1st.

If you would like more information on this issue, please contact OMB Government Affairs Director, Jason Gano at (360)754-0912 or

Issues In Action Update – July 2019

Olympia’s Missing Middle Update

Last week, the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) invalidated Olympia’s “Missing Middle” housing ordinance after finding the city violated state law in relation to the environment and growth and that the changes go against policies in Olympia’s comprehensive plan. The Missing Middle, approved last year, allowed for more multifamily housing to be built in low-density neighborhoods, including duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, ADUs and courtyard apartments.  READ MORE

Government Affairs – Issues Update: September 2018

*NEW* Condo Liability Reform

  • Description: BIAW has asked local MBAs to partner with their cities to pass resolutions in support of condo liability reform and grow local community support around the issue.
  • Status: OMB has reached out to Lacey and Olympia with draft resolution language. Olympia is vetting the language. Lacey has scheduled the topic for discussion at an Oct 4 council work session.

*NEW* City of Olympia – Heritage Review Commission

  • Description: There were several job-specific issues between builders and the HRC, prompting OMB to meet with city staff to discuss ways to improve the Heritage Review Process. Possible solutions include workshops with the Remodeler’s Council and the HRC, increased training of permit counter staff, handouts detailing preferred practices, clarification of code and appeals processes, and changes to HRC administrative practices.
  • Status: Olympia is in the second stage of interviewing for a permanent Historical Preservation Officer who will begin work on these changes once hired. The Deputy-Director of Community Development is the current point of contact.

*NEW* Thurston/Mason County – WREC Appointments

  • Description: As part of the Hirst Fix, many WRIAs are required to establish Watershed Resource Enhancement Committees under the supervision. WRIA #13 (Deschutes) and WRIA #14 (Kennedy-Goldborough) are in OMB territory and will be establishing their WRECs in October.
  • Status: BIAW and Mason County leadership have nominated OMB to act as the statutorily mandated home building industry representative for both WRIAs.

*NEW* Mason County – Workforce Housing Summit

  • Description: Several community and development stakeholders have begin discussing how to begin a conversation about the shortage of workforce housing in Mason Co.
  • Status: OMB is meeting with primary stakeholder groups to discuss partnership for a housing summit.

*UPDATED* City of Olympia – Missing Middle Housing

  • Description: Olympia Planning Commission is considering changes which would allow for more Missing Middle Housing in Olympia (report at:
  • Status: Most of the Missing Middle recommendations passed. Minor provisions required additional review but are anticipated to pass in early Fall. Once city staff has a chance to review the code changes for practical applications, they will be coordinating briefings for OMB members.

*UPDATED* General – Incentivized Housing Action Team

  • Description: OMB has been participating in Thurston Thrives’ Incentivized Housing Action Team to create a real-world model of housing incentives that can be used to create mixed income development.
  • Status: Based on OMB’s work with incentivized housing, we have been asked to join the Thurston Thrives Coordinating Council as a representative of the private development community.

*UPDATED* City of Lacey – Annexation Amendments

  • Description: The City approached OMB with draft language for a prosed amendment to annexation procedure. The change would require annexation to occur prior to a property being served by any city-owned utility unless they receive land use approval prior to Sept 01, 2018. Planning Commission recommended adoption of the following language to city council “Owners of properties lying outside of, but contiguous to City boundaries shall be annexed prior to being served by a City-owned utility.  Owners of properties lying outside of but not contiguous to the City must legally commit their property to eventual annexation prior to being served by the City’s utility system.”
  • Status: This amendment to the annexation procedure passed.

Thurston County – Rural County Fire Sprinklers

  • Description: Thurston County is considering the value and executability of requiring fire suppression systems in new construction in the county.
  • Status: OMB provided initial feedback on the water, infrastructure and cost factors involved in requiring sprinkler systems in a non-urban environment.

Thurston County – Habitat Conservation Plan

  • Description: OMB worked closely with the County to develop a new interim inspection process. Private biologists will be allowed for the first time (contact Erin for a list). Two site inspections are still required. The interim inspection process is required until a county-wide HCP is approved.
  • Status: On July 25th the Board of County Commissioners approved a final draft HCP to be sent to USFW for consideration. There is no timeline for USFW response.

Mason County – E-Permitting

  • Description: Mason will be launching a e-permitting system in September
  • Status: OMB had an initial meeting with County staff to consult on issues that typical arise with e-permitting. A 1-month check in is scheduled after the system gets brought online.

Thurston County – E-Inspection

  • Description: The County is exploring the feasibility of electronic inspection of building sites and structures (i.e. barn pole footings). Staff is exploring possible mechanism and medias internally.
  • Status: CPED would like to meet with an OMB focus group in September to review staff generated options and workshop additional structural options, inspection methods and review procedure.

City of Yelm – Permit Improvement Project

  • Description: Yelm will be moving to a new city hall soon and expressed a desire to examine their permitting processes in conjunction with the move.
  • Status: OMB met with the City Manager and discussed how to begin collecting data internally about permitting, ways to audit the efficacy of existing permits and opportunities to create partnerships between OMB and the city.

Thurston / Lewis County – Rural ADU Review

  • Description: Both Thurston and Lewis Counties are reviewing the standards for ADUs in rural areas. Lewis Co is looking specifically at the septic needs/regulations associated with ADUs.
  • Status: Lee Napier presented the new planning standards for septic connections and ADUs at the June Lewis County meeting. Lewis County members found the method of delineation illogical and requested to meet with the county to generate clearer guidelines. Napier is coordinating.

General – Ruckelshaus Center GMA Review

  • Description: The legislature is doing a state-wide review of the GMA and GMA framework (SEPA, SMA, etc). They are hosting workshops in every county. Pacific and Grays Harbor have been completed.
  • Status: Thurston, Mason, Lewis are scheduled for fall. If you have interest in participating, let Erin know. OMB will also be joining BIAW in a one-on-one meeting in the fall to address housing issues specifically.

Thurston County – Comprehensive Plan: Housing Chapter

  • Description: The Housing Chapter is a part of the larger Thurston County Comprehensive Plan. The focus of the update is on ensuring compliance with state law and incorporating new information generated since the last major update in 2005.
  • Status: OMB has reviewed the first draft of the Housing Chapter and provided feedback.


Reroofing Inspection Changes (Olympia), Water Meters for New Construction (Olympia), Charter County Ballot Initiative & Freeholder Elections (Lewis Co.), Building Code Changes (Thurston Co.), Administrative Final Plat Approval (Thurston Co.)