Author Archives: jimhoneyford

Industrial hemp crops grown in Washington?

Hemp-Field_combo1There was in interesting hearing last week in the Senate ag committee dealing with industrial hemp and the possibility of making it a new crop in Washington. While it’s currently outlawed due to its close relation to marijuana, now that the people have legalized recreational marijuana the conversation about making hemp a profitable agricultural product is ongoing as well.

You may not know this, but there are dozens of products made from and uses for hemp. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, hempseed oil can be manufactured into soaps and body lotions, clothing and fabric can be woven from hemp fibers as well as ropes, twine, bags, paper, and a number of other products. Continue reading

Protecting water quality along with agruculture

stelprdb1077012Agriculture is a $49 billion component of the economy of Washington state. In recent years, more and more environmental overstepping has inhibited the ability of agriculture to grow as an industry. There is now a concern that the state’s non-point water quality regulations can impair the agricultural sector’s economic viability by leading to the conversion of agricultural land to other uses.

That’s why I’ve proposed Senate Bill 6087, which was approved by the bipartisan Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development. SB 6087 declares that the protection of normal and customary agricultural practices upon agricultural land is essential to maintain the public welfare, support farm and ranch capacity to produce and preserve open spaces. It also stipulates that state and federal agencies must also take precautions to protect the economic viability of agricultural operations and minimize the conversion of agricultural land to other uses. Continue reading

Honeyford bill would spare honeybee industry from sting of B&O tax

honeybee-honeycomb-macro_26201_990x742The Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee today considered a bill aimed at putting more buzz into the state’s honeybee industry. Senate Bill 6402, sponsored by Sunnyside Sen. Jim Honeyford, would exempt honeybee products and services from the state’s onerous business and occupation tax by defining them as agricultural products.

“Washington has many crops that depend upon bees for pollination to produce profitable crops,” said Honeyford, who serves as ranking Republican on the committee. “All kinds of products come from bees, including honey, pollen, beeswax, propolis, and many others. Just as the state considers milk that comes from cows to be an agricultural product, so should it consider products derived from honeybees.”

Washington is the only state to impose a business and occupations tax, which is levied on the gross receipts of all business activities. Unlike a corporate net income tax, there are no deductions for the costs of doing business. Small businesses often struggle in their first several years just to make a profit; many in Washington fail as a result of hitting the low B&O threshold but ending up in the red and losing money. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

A bill for the bee industry

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This week I introduced a new bill aimed at helping our state’s bee industry, which has been growing thanks to certain tax preferences that are now set to expire. Senate Bill 6402, would revise the definition of “agricultural product,” for the purposes of extending the state’s business and occupation tax credit to include honey bee products and bee pollination services. As with any business, the B&O tax can be a crippling obstacle to overcome and easing that burden will allow the industry to expand, grow and create more jobs.

Aviation caucus is now in its second year

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Last year was the first time we organized an “aviation caucus” devoted to general and business aviation and its economic impact on Washington. Our job is to help lawmakers better understand the burdens and obstacles companies confront and how to make flying safer and more accessible. I’m pleased to report that there is more interest this year and we will be continuing to meet on a regular basis. Our first meeting (after the organizational meeting) is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28, at 7 am in the Cherberg building and I encourage anyone from back home with an interest in the aeronautics industry to stop by if you happen to be in Olympia.

Keeping Yakima Valley School open a priority for longtime area lawmaker

yakvalleyschoolTo help protect the vulnerable residents who call the Yakima Valley School their home, Sen. Jim Honeyford has proposed a bill that would allow the residential care facility to begin admitting new patients again. Senate Bill 5962, considered by the Senate Health Care Committee today, would permit the facility to reopen its doors to the community.

“After the facility began barring new patients, it continued providing temporary respite and crisis beds,” said Honeyford, who represents the 15th Legislative District, “but 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.”

During the state’s economic crisis in 2011, the governor signed a bill to close the Frances Haddon Morgan developmental disability facility in Bremerton and gradually reduce the number of residents at YVS. Honeyford worked with other Yakima-area lawmakers to help keep the facility’s residents and staff in place for as long as possible. The 2011 legislation closed the school to any further admissions but allowed current residents to continue residing at the facility for the rest of their natural lives. Then, when the population dropped below 16, the state would find alternate housing for the remaining occupants and close the school permanently. Continue reading

Honeyford bill aims to keep invasive species out of Washington’s waters

They’re coming to wreak havoc on Washington’s waterways unless state officials can stop them now.That’s the message Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, conveyed to the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee Tuesday as he spoke in favor of Senate Bill 6040. It’s his bill to help the state Department of Fish and Wildlife effectively address invasive species through an integrated management approach.

“All I had to do was hold up a license plate that was in Nevada’s Lake Mead for four months and show the committee how the entire surface had become completely overrun by zebra and quagga mussels,” said Honeyford, who represents the 15th Legislative District. “I believe that got the point across. The state needs to take aggressive steps to prevent an infestation in our waterways before it becomes a billion-dollar boondoggle.” Continue reading

Yakima Herald Republic: Yakima Valley School bill would correct poor decision

The Washington Legislature has a chance to revisit a decision of significance to the Yakima Valley. A change of heart and mind would be good news for the  Valley and to guardians of the developmentally disabled.

Sen. Jim Honeyford has filed a bill that would reverse a 3-year-old plan to slim down the Yakima Valley School, a Selah residential facility that provides respite care services for developmentally disabled adults. Back in 2011, there was talk that the school could close altogether as the state, mired in a deepening fiscal crisis, acceded to a philosophical move from residential institutions to community-living facilities. In fact, a similar center in Bremerton did close.

Read more from the Yakima Herald Republic.