We’re past the cutoff point for both House and Senate bills not considered necessary to implement the budget to be passed out of committees. From this point on, each day will be spent debating and passing bills in either the full House or full Senate, with the exception of certain committees that have to consider last-minute budget bills. It appears that some of my bills may not make it out of the House for purely political reasons, which is very unfortunate. I’ve never played politics with my bills and I firmly believe that every bill should be considered on its own merit rather than used as trade bait for passing other bills. In fact, I’ve lost bills because of that belief and I am willing to lose another should it come to that.
Senate Bill 5292 – Exempting certain structures that are constructed and maintained by irrigation districts and port districts from the definition of critical areas. This is my bill from last session which passed the Senate on February 8. It would essentially clarify that the drainage side of irrigation districts are not considered “natural” streams so they should be excluded from designation as “critical areas” for fish and wildlife. Ports also have a need to be exempted from that designation as they have similar artificial facilities. SB 5292 passed the House unanimously on Feb. 28 and will now go to the governor to be signed into law.
Senate Bill 6027 – Concerning publicly owned industrial wastewater treatment facilities. The Port of Sunnyside operates several lagoons in which process water is treated. The port is converting land it purchased near the Yakima River to wetlands. SB 6027 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to provide loans to publicly owned industrial wastewater treatment facilities that relieve a city of the burden of processing industrial wastewater. The funding ability authorized by this bill may help construct a pipeline from the treatment lagoons to the new wetlands, returning clean, cool water to the Yakima River. It’s awaiting passage by the House Capital Budget Committee.
Senate Bill 6044 – Concerning the supply of water by public utility districts bordered by the Columbia river to be used in pumped storage projects. This bill would allow a public utility district bordered by the Columbia river to supply water as authorized by a water right under its control, to be used in a pumped storage generating facility. Additionally, it would require contracts concerning the sale of these resources to be approved by a vote of a PUD’s commissioners after a minimum of ten days public notice. Investors are planning on constructing a multi-billion dollar pump storage project and using the supplied electricity to balance the wind farms that are abundant in the Columbia Gorge. SSB 6044 would update restrictions in the law that are over 80 years old and have outlived their usefulness. It’s awaiting a floor vote in the House Rules Committee.
Senate Bill 6523 – Concerning resident curators of state properties. This bill would allow a state agency that has the authority to lease state-owned properties to private parties to negotiate a lease at a rate that is less than fair market value under certain circumstances. If the property is listed (or is eligible to be listed) on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington Heritage Register, or a local historic register, the agency must consult with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and all work performed on the property must comply with the Department of Interior standards for rehabilitation of historic properties. This bill came about because of a case in western Washington where several private businesses are interested in an historic monastery on state land. It’s awaiting a floor vote in the House Rules Committee.