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.
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 →
On Tuesday members of the Washington State House of Representatives unanimously approved Senate Bill 5292, my bill to help clarify exemptions regarding natural versus manmade drainage areas within port and irrigation districts. The bill – which I introduced in the 2011 session – would change state law so that the drainage side of irrigation districts are not considered “natural” streams and therefore should not be designated as “critical areas” under the Growth Management Act.
I’m pleased to see this bill supported by my colleagues in both the Senate and the House. If an artificial drainage district is deemed a critical area, it creates numerous administrative difficulties and increased costs for the district. Some districts have spent thousands of dollars just to establish that a creek is manmade rather than natural. Continue reading →
Senate Bill 6392 – Expanded farm internship program. In 2010, the Senate agriculture committee heard testimony that Washington is facing a crisis of aging farmers. The average age is 56, and 70 percent of farmland is expected to change hands in the next 20 years. To help bring young people into farming as a career, the Legislature established a farm internship pilot program for San Juan and Skagit counties in 2011. This on-the-job training opportunity is exempt from minimum wage requirements and unemployment insurance. L&I was directed to create a special industrial insurance risk class for farm interns. SB 6392 expands the farm internship pilot program to Whatcom, Kitsap, Pierce, Jefferson, Spokane, Yakima, Chelan, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, and Thurston counties. (Passed the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee on February 21).
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.