I recently attended a meeting of the Legislative Council on River Governance, an organization managed by the Council of State Governments. The Legislative Council on River Governance is a cooperative association of legislators from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington who meet to discuss common interests and challenges along the Columbia River basin.
The purpose of the Legislative Council on River Governance is to assert state legislative duty and authority over natural resources and river governance in the Columbia and Snake River Basins, and to unite the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington to develop a proactive agenda of legislative action and communications. Continue reading →
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6044 into law this afternoon, allowing investors to construct water-pump storage facilities along the Columbia River to generate electricity and help balance out the power generated by area wind farms. I’m pleased by the support his bill had throughout the process.
At no point during this legislative session did my bill encounter any resistance, which is always a good sign. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed it unanimously and the governor had no reason to veto any part of it.
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. Signed into law by the governor on March 7.
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 being held hostage by the governor until the Legislature reaches a budget agreement.
Senate Bill 6618 – Requiring a financial plan to adequately and amply fund basic education while modifying non-basic education funding mandates. This billrequires the state to develop a financial plan to adequately and amply fund basic education while modifying non-basic education funding mandates (I-728, I-732). It would also create the Basic Education Funding Joint Legislative Work Group to study information regarding the priority order of phased-in funding enhancements, review the phase-in schedule in light of any newly available research-based evidence and develop a long-term financial plan that phases in enhancements and matches the expenditure plan with options for existing or additional state revenue that may include shifting a portion of school district excess levy authority to state property tax levy. It’s currently awaiting negotiation by the House and Senate budget writers.
Members of the Washington State Senate voted unanimously Monday in favor of my bill which would – among other things – allow investors to construct water-pump storage facilities along the Columbia River to generate electricity and help balance out the power generated by area wind farms. I’m pleased to see Senate Bill 6044 pass with so much support. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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.
This past July I had the opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Annual Summit in Portland, Oregon. This organization was established by statute in 1991 with Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory. It is a partnership that works collaboratively in both the public and private sectors, on economic issues that benefit the region. I am the appointed Senate Republican member of this organization and it is an honor to serve in this regional capacity.
At the summit, I attended a full day briefing on the Columbia River Treaty. The Columbia River Treaty is an agreement between Canada and the United States on the development and operation of dams in the upper Columbia River basin for power and flood control. The United States and British Columbia are currently working to update this important treaty. We were briefed on the progress of these negotiations which would enhance our state’s ability to comment and present ideas to our federal government.