The $2-billion-deficit budget that the House proposed on the last day of the regular session was a non-starter for the bipartisan Senate coalition committed to reform. We presented a responsible, sustainable budget from which we could have begun negotiations. The majority in the House, however, chose not to even allow their budget negotiators to the table to talk.
On March 15,the bipartisan coalition in the Senate once again attempted to break the budget stalemate with a revised version of our original reform budget. It was the first compromise proposal of the special session (you can watch the news conference at this link). Our hope was that it would encourage negotiations and get the budget process moving. Continue reading →
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.