Two weeks down, six to go

Senate Ways & Means Committee holds a public hearing January 15, 2014.The Legislature has now completed the first two weeks of the 2014 session and we’re well underway debating bill proposals and negotiating with our colleagues. Since this is a short (60-day) session, the timeframe to accomplish what we need to do is reduced and everything seems to be getting done in a hurry. I wanted to share an update on the progress of some of my bills before going into detail about a few others.

SB 5962 – Yakima Valley School. This is a bill to reopen the residential care facility in Selah to new patients. During the state’s economic crisis in 2011, the governor signed a bill to gradually reduce the number of residents at YVS. It closed the school to any further admissions but allowed current residents to continue residing at the facility for the rest of their natural lives. Since that time we’ve seen a drastic need for it to return to its original purpose of providing a stable, long-term home for individuals with significant developmental or medical disabilities. SB 5962 had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health Care on Jan 23, and I expect it will be approved by that committee soon.

SB 6040 – Invasive species. This is my bill to help prevent invasive mussels (zebra and quagga, small clam-like creatures that reproduce rapidly and deplete nutrients in the water, jeopardizing power and water infrastructures, damaging ecosystems and destroying recreational areas) by providing community block grants that can be used for educational campaigns to help keep the public informed about the issue and reinforcing the inspection checkpoints the state has in place to keep these and other invasive species out. SB 6040 had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks on Jan. 21, and I expect it will be approved by that committee soon.

SB 6052 – Land acquisition. This bill would require that the state Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife and State Parks and Recreation Commission – when attempting to acquire habitat or recreation lands – to submit to the Legislature the following information:

  • The purpose of the acquisition and intended use of the property;
  • Detailed and measurable goals for the acquisition;
  • A monitoring plan to track whether the purchase is meeting the identified goals; and
  • Anticipated operation and maintenance costs.

SB 6052 had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks on Jan. 23, and I expect it will be approved by that committee soon.

SB 6054 – Aeronautic safety. This is a bill to hopefully prevent crop dusters and other low-flying aircraft from colliding with an unmarked radio tower. It requires certain temporary or permanent guyed towers to be lighted, marked and painted or otherwise constructed to be visible in clear air during daylight hours from a distance of not less than two thousand feet. SB 6054 is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation on Jan. 28.