Tag Archives: 15th Legislative District

IN THE NEWS: Meeting on water needs planned for Thursday in Yakima

Yakima Herald Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — State lawmakers are seeking the public’s perspective on how Washington should invest in water management for the future at a meeting in Yakima on Thursday.

It’s part of a $250,000 study to understand the “economic consequences of investing – and not investing – in water infrastructure and fisheries habitat” projects around the state.

It was sponsored by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, and Sen. Karen Kaiser, D-Kent.

Honeyford has been urging lawmakers to address the issue for several years because the infrastructure that delivers irrigation to farms, prevents floods, and shunts stormwater off city streets are key parts of the state’s economy. Unlike transportation infrastructure, for example, there’s no dedicated funding plan for such systems.

Lawmakers included the study in the 2016 supplemental capital budget.

The conclusions are expected to help state lawmakers best allocate limited funds to support economic development, protect water quality, and restore fish habitat.

Two identical public meetings will be held in Yakima on Thursday, at 3:30 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m., at the Southeast Community Center, located at 1211 S. 7th St. in Yakima.

The original article, published Sept. 20, 2016, can be found here.


Honeyford urges action to protect Washington waters from invasive mussels

The U.S. Senate approved the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Thursday, authorizing $9 billion in spending on 25 water development projects across the nation. The bill authorizes up to $20 million to be administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to match state spending for watercraft inspection stations protecting the Columbia River Basin, including those in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, from aquatic invasive species.

States in the Pacific Northwest need federal funding authorized by WRDA to support the operation of watercraft inspection stations, where boats carrying invasive quagga and zebra mussels can be stopped and cleaned before they reach Northwest waterways. However, states urgently need the $4 million appropriated last year for the same purpose to clear the corps’ administrative process.

In December of 2015, Congress appropriated $4 million within the federal budget to match state spending in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana on watercraft inspection stations. Unfortunately, these states have not yet received any federal money for contracts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the administrating agency.

“It is imperative that the corps act quickly. The threat of a mussel infestation is real and the damage will severely impact the environment and the economy of the entire Columbia River basin,” said state Sen. Jim Honeyford, Washington.

An invasion of quagga or zebra mussels would rapidly foul and damage the operations of hydropower, irrigation, fish hatcheries and municipal water facilities vital to our region’s economy. These filter-feeders also disrupt pre-existing food webs and impact fish habitat.

A Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) economic impact assessment estimated the cost of an invasion in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S. would be $500 million annually. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that if zebra and quagga mussels invade the Columbia River, they could cost hydroelectric facilities alone up to $300 million a year and incur additional costs associated with environmental damage and increased operating expenses to fish hatcheries and water diversions.

“We commend the leadership of the Northwest Senate delegation in supporting this bipartisan bill. After years working with state and federal legislators, state agencies and non-profit partners, the states need federal support now to prevent devastating environmental and economic damage that could reach $500 million annually in the Pacific Northwest,” said PNWER Executive Director Matt Morrison.

The Pacific Northwest is the last remaining region in the country that does not have established populations of quagga and zebra mussels. The mussels multiply quickly and are easily transported across jurisdictions through waterways and on boat hulls and in ballast tanks. Once the mussels establish themselves in a waterway, there is no proven method of eradicating them.

Amendments to the 2016 Senate version of WRDA effectively double the federal funding available to states by allowing funds to go to stations that protect the Columbia River Basin, but are located outside of it. To allow federal funds to flow to stations outside the Columbia River Basin, PNWER and its partners worked with federal delegations, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s office, to change “in the basin” to “protect the basin” in the Senate version of the 2016 WRDA bill.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ interpretation of the 2014 WRDA allowed federal funds to support only stations located within the Columbia River Basin. Approximately half of the inspection stations in the four Pacific Northwest states are established every year in strategic locations outside of the Columbia River Basin; along interstate highways and on high traffic routes to and from areas with mussel-infested waterways.

The watercraft inspection station on Interstate 5 in Ashland, Oregon, for example, is the second busiest in the state with 5,051 clean inspections and 110 contaminated inspections in 2015, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Although it guards Oregon waters – including the Columbia River – from infected boats coming from California, it would not qualify for federal assistance under the Corps’ interpretation of the 2014 bill because it is outside the Columbia River Basin.

IN THE NEWS: Cooperation over contention gets things done on water policy

Yakima Herald Republic

Not long ago, Kittitas County could have been the poster child for tensions between local and state governments on water use. Issues erupted in 2009 and simmered for the next five years or so: The state Department of Ecology imposed a moratorium on drilling domestic wells, the U.S. Geological Survey found groundwater makes its way to surface streams, and that water wells are diverting the flow from those rivers and streams; the state Supreme Court ruled that counties must assure that development applicants have legal access to water before they approve new developments, and Kittitas County lost a growth management lawsuit.

All this stems from competition for a water resource that is fully appropriated. As it stands now, water rights are required for all new wells in the county, a situation that particularly affects the upper county housing industry. The lack of a certain water supply has served to spook prospective home builders, buyers and lenders,

Out of that legal and regulatory contention arose a Kittitas County water bank, in which a party can buy a water right to offset the impact of a new well. The bank is a very promising idea with a potentially sticky provision in Kittitas County: The water right has to come from the same general area as the intended new use; acceptable areas are indicated in color-coded county maps.

The information is now easier to access. Earlier this month, the announcement came that the state has set up a water bank website, in which interested parties can click onto the web address and find information that includes water prices, priority dates, locations of water and contact information.

As an example of the contention yielding to cooperation, the Ecology Department runs the website, which the Legislature created through a bill sponsored by state Sen. Jim Honeyford, a Sunnyside Republican who understands well the inherent tension between growers and Ecology. Honeyford touted “a one-stop shop of information” that the website provides.

The real-estate industry also sees this as a promising development, with a Cle Elum real estate broker saying the industry is continuing to work with the state on the website as they strive to smooth out the process.

Kittitas County has company in setting up water banks. The website includes information for the Yakima River Basin, the Columbia River, the Walla Walla River Basin and the Dungeness River Basin on the Olympic Peninsula.

Kittitas County lies at the nexus of many competing entities — agriculture, fishing, residential — that covet the water that flows from the county’s mountains and snowpack. The cooperation displayed in the water bank program shows that working out compromise is the most productive way to resolve these sensitive issues. Compromises by nature don’t please everyone, but once implemented they provide certainty and allow competing entities to get on with their business. That’s exactly what is happening now in Kittitas County.

* Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.

The original article, published July 21, 2016, can be viewed here.


Water banking web page goes live thanks to Honeyford bill

A new web page devoted to water banking information has been launched thanks to legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jim Honeyford. Passed with overwhelming support during the 2016 legislative session, Substitute Senate Bill 6179, directed the state Department of Ecology to create a web page on its website that provides the public with information on all of Washington’s water banks. The web page went live Wednesday.

“Farming communities are keenly aware that water is essential to their livelihood. Setting up a one-stop shop of information for those who have water banks and those who may want to utilize a bank is the first step in providing transparency on this water management issue,” said Honeyford, R- Sunnyside.

Information about water banking that DOE must maintain includes:

  • Amount charged for mitigation, including any fees,
  • Priority date of the water rights made available for mitigation,
  • If applicable, any geographic areas in the state where the department may issue mitigated permits,
  • The processes utilized by the water bank to obtain approval to use the water rights as mitigation for new water uses,
  • The nature of the ownership interest in the mitigation being sold to landowners,
  • Whether mitigation is recorded on the title.

The water banking web page can be accessed at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/market/trk-wawtrbnks.html.

Capital budget grants provide local schools with additional space

Three local school districts have been selected to receive funding aimed at making kindergarten through third-grade classrooms less crowded. The Wapato School District is slated to receive $13 million, the Toppenish School District was awarded $2.2 million and the Yakima School District picked up $220,451; the funds will primarily be used to build more classrooms.

“Over the past four years, the Legislature has made education its number one priority with almost half the state’s operating budget now going toward education funding. During the current biennium, the capital budget has directed nearly $1 billion dollars to enhancing that commitment,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford. “While the Legislature still has a lot of work to do on the education front, this is a great start and I’m glad many of our local schools are going to benefit.”  

In 2015, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 6080 that established the K-3 class-size reduction grants. Priority for grants went to districts with the highest percentage of free and reduced lunches and the most crowded K-3 classrooms. Other requirements included that the district had not raised capital funds through a levy or bond in the past 10 years.

Statewide, 21 school districts will receive grants totaling nearly $234 million. For those schools that need 10 or more new classrooms to meet lower student-to-teacher ratios, it is anticipated that a new school will be constructed. Those schools will receive additional funding to cover the cost of administrative offices, hallways and cafeterias. Those schools that needed fewer additional classrooms were classified as a remodel of an existing structure.

IN THE NEWS: Burke Museum Breaks Ground on New Building

Burke Museum Breaks Ground on New Building

Community Gathers to Celebrate the New Washington State Museum

Seattle – Over 500 people gathered today on the University of Washington campus to celebrate starting construction on the New Burke Museum. The Burke is Washington’s oldest museum and the State Museum of Natural History and Culture since 1899; soon it will be Washington’s newest museum.

Opening in 2019, the New Burke will address significant structural issues that currently threaten the long-term viability of our state’s natural and cultural heritage collections—a total of more than 16 million objects. The new, 113,000 sq. ft. building located on the University of Washington Seattle campus will be 66% larger than the current building. State-of-the-art labs will serve more students, researchers and artists. More education space will allow the Burke to potentially double the number of Pre-K–12 students served each year.

“The new facility with allow us to take science and cultural education to the next level by connecting students with the scientists and researchers at the Burke—role models who will inspire the next generation,” said Frank Chopp, Washington State Speaker of the House (43rd LD).  “Washington is a state of innovation and curiosity. It is only right that our state museum helps foster that in our young learners and in all of us.”

The New Burke will have an innovative “inside-out” design, integrating exhibits and learning areas with visible labs and collections storage throughout the museum, inviting everyone to uncover the depth and breadth of the museum’s collections and experience the thrill of daily discoveries generated at the Burke. “The University of Washington and Burke Museum were incredibly important to me during my student life, and the Burke was a place for me to engage with and connect to our rich local history and tradition of innovation. It is a deep privilege for me to be part of this project,” said Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig, the Seattle-based, internationally renowned architecture firm for the New Burke Museum.

At the groundbreaking event, Washington educators, elected officials, tribal members and University of Washington leaders spoke about the impact of the New Burke. Students from the University Temple Children’s School—located across the street from the site of the New Burke—joined project donors and officials for the ceremonial groundbreaking. The group used shovels, pick axes and other field tools used by Burke archaeologists and paleontologists for the “dig.” In the spirit of excavation, fossils from across Washington were displayed during the event.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce congratulated the Burke on reaching this important milestone and thanked supporters of the project, adding, “We are very excited to break ground and look forward to working together with the community and the State Legislature to get the project finished.”

The budget for the New Burke project is $99 million, which includes design and construction of the new building, exhibits, moving costs, an operating endowment, and landscaping for the new facility. To-date, $67 million in public and private support has been raised. The Burke will continue to raise private funds and will request $24.2 million from the State of Washington in 2017.

“The Burke is the State Natural History Museum. It’s the oldest state museum and we have an obligation, I believe, to create a new facility to protect our natural heritage,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford (15th LD).

“The Legislature worked closely with the UW to make this day happen and we are working together to get this project done.” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (24th LD).

Plans for the New Burke were developed over many years, in consultation with museum experts and members of the communities the Burke Museum serves.

“As we move forward, let’s remember all of the relationships and good work that happened here in the current building, and have that be the foundation of what happens in the new museum,” said Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe.

In the coming years, the Burke will continue to consult with diverse community groups about the exhibits and education programs being developed for the New Burke. “The New Burke will be about the connections between people, and the authentic care and love which helps communities to preserve, grow and share their stories. The Hmong community and many others will be able to grow our knowledge and continue our historical legacies here in the Pacific Northwest,” said Zer Vue, Nationally Board Certified Educator and Board Commissioner, Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Construction is expected to last 18 months, and will be followed by moving collections and installing exhibits. The current Burke Museum will be torn down after the New Burke opens, with goodbye celebrations taking place in the current building in early 2019. Special exhibits, events and educational programs will continue in the current Burke throughout construction.

“I am thrilled to celebrate a major moment for the New Burke: breaking ground on the new, flagship museum of natural history and culture for Washington state,” said Julie K. Stein, Burke Museum Executive Director. “This project is a true partnership, and today is an opportunity for us to recognize the hard work and contributions of everyone who helped us reach this milestone. Together, we will bring the New Burke to life for everyone.”

About the New Burke: The New Burke will be sited along 15th Ave. NE between NE 43rd St. and NE 45th St. The new building will be located 1.5 blocks from the future U District light rail station—which is expected to serve 18,000 riders per day. As a new tourist and leisure attraction, the New Burke will support efforts to revitalize the U District.

Construction of the New Burke Museum begins May 2016, managed by the University of Washington and led by general contractor/construction manager Skanska. The project is on track for LEED Gold status as a high-performance green building.

The New Burke will open to the public in 2019.

More information available at newburke.org

High resolution images are available at this Dropbox folder: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n3nf9aljvhjk20r/AACvyCKBVNCWvwFlxe9VY5Q0a?dl=0

Photo: State, county and local legislators along with Tribal representatives, Burke Museum staff and board members, and the “Dragonfly” class from University Temple Children’s School did the ceremonial first dig for the New Burke Museum on May 18, 2016. The New Burke will open in 2019 and will be a flagship natural history and culture museum. Photo courtesy the Burke Museum.

New Burke Leadership

Jan & Jack Creighton, Honorary Co-Chairs, Campaign for the New Burke Mike & Lynn Garvey, Honorary Co-Chairs, Campaign for the New Burke Greg Blume, Co-Chair, Campaign for the New Burke Mary Dunnam, Co-Chair, Campaign for the New Burke Ellen Ferguson, Co-Chair, Campaign for the New Burke John Kincaid, President, Burke Museum Association Julie K. Stein, Executive Director, Burke Museum

New Burke Partners

Collins Group Evidence Design Gustafson Guthrie Nichol McKinstry Olson Kundig Oxbow Organic Farm and Education Center Renate Skanska University of Washington

IN THE NEWS: Looking at Olympia in rear-view mirror

Daily Sun News logo

I pulled into my driveway in Sunnyside late on the afternoon of March 31. The final day of this year’s regular legislative session had been scheduled for March 10, but the stubborn support for tax increases on the part of the Democrats who control the House of Representatives had unnecessarily pushed us into overtime.

Twenty days into the so-called “special” session, I was finally voting for an operating-budget update restrained in its spending, containing no new taxes and balancing over four years, as state law requires. Two days later, I was filling my car with suits and ties and making my way back over the pass, headed for home.

When the governor called for the Legislature to continue working past the end of the regular session, people around our state grumbled about partisan politics and wondered why there was yet another special session. I understand, and share, their frustration.

The reality is that overtime periods have been the rule, rather than the exception, since 1980, when the Legislature started meeting on its current annual schedule.

Anyone who thinks the cause is a divided Legislature – meaning the House and Senate are controlled by different parties – need only check the numbers.

When Democrats controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office from 2010 through 2012, the Legislature met for an average 35.3 extra days. Since our Majority Coalition Caucus began leading the Senate in 2013, the average number of extra days per session has been virtually the same, at 35.5.

The caucus formed when like-minded Republicans and Democrats banded around a set of leadership principles: encouraging job growth, building a world-class education system and creating a sustainable budget that doesn’t raise taxes. Another of our shared priorities is accountability, and so we have also made substantial progress on reforms that demand that your hard-earned tax dollars are going where they are supposed to be.

The legislation we champion reflects those shared ideals. This deliberate form of governance not only stands in stark contrast to the actions coming from the majority party in the House and the governor’s office – it is the true cause of the additional days we have been forced to spend in Olympia.

Those of us who have been at the negotiation table understand reaching a compromise means no one will get everything they want. There’s a saying in Olympia that the best agreements leave “everyone equally unhappy.”

However, when those seated across the table from our majority caucus seem to lack restraint when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars and growing government, it is challenging to reach middle ground in a timely manner.

Fortunately for taxpayers, it took only 20 extra days this year for House budget negotiators to abandon their push for new taxes – a position they had taken although their fellow Democrats wouldn’t bring tax increases to a vote. The relatively short overtime and resulting no-new-taxes supplemental budget were probably a relief to the governor, as he was likely chomping at the bit to begin campaigning for re-election and not anxious to defend a needless tax hike on top of the rest of his sorry record.

Next January, I’ll be back at the Capitol for a “long” 105-day session, prepared to work on brand-new two-year operating and capital budgets. Big elections with potentially huge ramifications will play out between now and then.

Regardless of the outcome, the members of my caucus will continue to build on the results of our guiding principles and respond to the needs of the people who elected us.

— State Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, represents the 15th Legislative District. Contact him at 360-786-7684 or Jim.Honeyford@leg.wa.gov.

The original opinion editorial, published April 8, 2016, can be viewed here.

Sen. Jim Honeyford’s Olympia Update – End of session edition

Although the legislative session was scheduled to end March 10, it took an additional 20 days for the Democrats in the House of Representatives to finally drop their pursuit of new taxes. In the end, we agreed to an operating-budget update that was restrained in its spending, contained no new taxes and balanced over four years, as state law requires.

Read more about the final budget update here.

Children, environment, mental-health treatment win in sensible supplement to state’s capital budget

Today the Senate agreed with the House of Representatives and approved an update to the state capital budget that will provide funding for new classrooms, mental-health support and environmental cleanup, all without tapping the state’s rainy-day fund. The bipartisan measure was endorsed with a vote of 39-10.

“This past year lawmakers made significant progress on class-size reductions for our state’s youngest learners. Today my colleagues and I agreed to invest an additional $34.5 million toward building more classrooms so that progress can become reality,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital-budget chair.

In addition to funding for construction of classrooms, $5.5 million is provided for the Department of Enterprise Services to purchase modular classrooms for five school districts to further support K-3 class-size reductions. The modular buildings will be constructed of cross-laminated lumber as part of a pilot program encouraging the use of local mass-timber products.

“Supporting mental-health treatment by improving care at our state hospitals and providing more community-based treatment beds for our most vulnerable citizens was important to legislators as we worked through this supplemental budget. We agreed on a plan that does both,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, Democratic capital-budget leader.

The Department of Social and Health Services is slated to receive $7.9 million for institution-based mental-health facilities, including a new ward at Western State Hospital in Pierce County. Another $7.5 million is directed to both urban and rural communities to develop facilities to assist patients as they transition from state hospitals.

“This budget prioritized a number of critical toxic-cleanup projects that were on the verge of being shelved because declining oil prices had reduced revenue in the Model Toxic Control Act account. Now these projects will be able to move forward with stable funding,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

The Department of Ecology’s Centennial Clean Water program will receive $2.5 million for grants that allow communities to plan, design, acquire and construct water pollution-control facilities.

“I am encouraged by the progress all parties involved were able to make as we came to agreement for this year’s capital budget,” said Keiser, D-Kent. “Although much work remains to be done moving forward, especially relating to major funding gaps for public infrastructure, this budget creates common ground as we look ahead to 2017.”

The measure, House Bill 2380, is now headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.

IN THE NEWS: Filipino-American Community of the Yakima Valley hosting Barrio Fiesta on Saturday

Yakima Herald Republic

More than 60 years ago, Filipino pioneers built the Filipino Community Hall at the corner of West Second Street and Satus Avenue to preserve culture and the community.

On Saturday, that effort will be commemorated with a traditional dinner during Barrio Fiesta, the Filipino-American Community of the Yakima Valley’s 64th anniversary of the hall.

The event will be from noon to 4 p.m. at the hall at 211 W. Second St. The dinner will feature roasted pig, spiced adobo chicken, lumpia, garlic bokchoy and steamed rice. Desserts include pudding, fresh fruit, rice cakes and sweet rice.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, and $10 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance from a member of the Filipino-American community or at the hall on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

State Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, will be the guest speaker. He will discuss the contributions the Filipino-American Community has made in the Yakima Valley and shed some light on the current Legislative session, said Filipino-American Community President Rey Pascua.

Over the years, Honeyford has supported several state resolutions in the past designating October as Filipino-American History Month, and eight years ago helped secure state funding to make improvements to the hall.

“He’s been very cooperative and supportive,” Pascua said.

The original article, published March 16, 2016, can be viewed here.