Four of my bill proposals have moved over to the House of Representatives to be considered by their committees. Three of them are bills I introduced this session, and one is a bill that carried over from the 2011 session. Since all bills are viable during the biennium (two-year budget cycle) in which they were introduced, my bill from last session was reintroduced by resolution at the beginning of this session.
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 is scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Local Government at 8:00 AM on February 17.
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 scheduled to receive a public hearing in the House Committee on Environment at 1:30 PM on February 17.
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 had a public hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources on February 8.
Senate Bill 6234 – Concerning the involuntary medication of persons committed as criminally insane. While this bill technically didn’t survive, I was able to amend a bill with a similar subject to get the language of SB 6234 added on. On Monday night, the Senate adopted my amendment to Senate Bill 6010 before passing the bill nearly unanimously. The bill would help protect workers at state hospitals from assault by patients, and my amendment would allow a state hospital to administer antipsychotic medication to someone who has been committed as criminally insane under the same procedures applicable to a civilly committed patient, except for limiting the administration of that medication to 180 days. SB 6010 has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the House of Representatives.
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. SB 6523 has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the House of Representatives.