Tag Archives: Sunnyside

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: House delaying up capital budget OK

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When I pulled the pickup truck into Olympia in early January, I was hopeful this “short” 60-day legislative session would truly be just that — 60 days.

However, here I am at my Newhouse Building desk on day 60-something, with the Senate and House still miles apart on supplemental operating and capital budgets.

These supplemental budgets should be straightforward: We open up the two-year budget approved last year, make adjustments to account for events not seen in our budget-writing crystal ball (the cost of fighting summer wildfires being a traditional example), then close it up for another year.

News reports that the Legislature hasn’t reached an agreement on the “budget” are typically referring to the operating budget that pays for day-to-day state government activity, including public schools.

As chairman of the capital budget – the brick-and-mortar complement to the operating budget – the biggest part of my job is to compile a list of construction, remodeling and repair projects.

The projects that appear in a final capital-budget list may range from developing Naches Rail to Trail to directing funds toward demolition of Sunnyside’s old Carnation milk-processing plant.

Because items covered by the capital budget are tangible – things that can be touched, seen and pointed to – many lawmakers seek to get as many of their local projects on the capital-budget list as possible.

That’s why, early in my tenure as chairman, I began requiring my fellow senators to explain in writing what a requested project would cost and how it would benefit the community.

This year, I shared additional requirements with my colleagues to reinforce this is a supplemental budget year, not time to unroll the Christmas list.

To even be considered, a request had to address an emergency, address an unanticipated change in a previously-approved capital-budget program, correct a technical error or represent an opportunity that would be forever lost if not acted upon this year.

The result is the true supplemental capital budget passed by the Senate on Feb. 26. A broad bipartisan majority of my Senate colleagues agreed with my common-sense approach, which bumped the size of the budget by a modest $87 million while directing even more money toward building new K-3 classrooms, as well as supplementing mental-health housing and addressing public-health emergencies like a failing water system in Pierce County

The House has not voted on a capital-budget proposal; its version only cleared the budget committee, but I agreed to start negotiating anyway.

It immediately became apparent that “supplemental” means something different to House members – on both sides of the political aisle.

If you know what is meant by “bringing home the bacon” and “pork project” you’ll understand what I have been up against during our budget talks.

Both House and Senate budgets spend about the same amount, but the House budget priorities are not on building classrooms or addressing true emergencies. It would, however, do a dandy job of letting House members bring projects home to their districts.

There is little sign of the self-control reflected in the Senate proposal.

I hope we are able to negotiate a capital budget that is truly supplemental. If we fail and do not have a supplemental budget the existing underlying budget continues as we agreed upon last year.

I’m proud of how the Senate supplemental capital budget shows respect for taxpayers. It’s a shame my counterparts in the House want to put pet projects ahead of the best interests of the people of Washington.

The original article, published March 11, 2016, can be viewed here.

Senate approves ‘true’ supplemental capital budget

The Senate today gave a strong endorsement to its proposed supplemental capital budget, voting 39-10 for a collection of changes totaling $87 million. The budget would provide funding for new classrooms, mental-health support and environmental cleanup, without tapping the state’s rainy-day fund or relying on a new revenue source.

“It was gratifying to see my colleagues join me in supporting our public schools. Nearly 65 percent of this budget goes toward education. The $38 million to reduce class size in K-3 is by itself a great investment in the kids of our state. The additional $35 million for the school construction-assistance account further cements that commitment,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, capital-budget chair.

Supplemental budgets are developed during 60-day legislative sessions – such as this year’s – to make minor corrections to previously approved budgets. 

“Within existing revenue, we responded to some of the biggest issues our state faces: education, mental health and environmental cleanup. Our proposed budget directs $20.8 million toward additional mental-health beds and temporary housing for those in treatment,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

“We couldn’t ignore the decline in the Model Toxic Control Act account so we tackled that issue too. Ensuring that our state can continue addressing toxic-cleanup projects should be a priority for lawmakers – and we made sure it is,” Honeyford added.

Senate Bill 6201 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.


IN THE NEWS: Pioneering lawmakers are making history

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Late in November 2012, I traveled to our state Capitol for the biennial re-organization of my Senate Republican Caucus.

Held in even years shortly after each general election, “re-org” is our equivalent of a board meeting: Caucus members vote on leadership positions and set the agenda for the upcoming session.

During my time in Olympia, I’ve seen majorities change. I’ve also seen gaps between the minority caucus and majority caucus narrow and widen.

In 2007, the number of Republican senators dropped to 17. By 2012, our numbers had grown to 23. There was talk of our reaching 25 seats and taking the majority in the 49-member Senate at the next election.

Then, in a historic turn of events, my colleagues and I claimed the majority in the Senate by ditching the traditional partisan approach and forming the Majority Coalition Caucus. We were a rabble of 23 Republicans and two Democrats who decided to govern differently and more effectively by following a set of shared principles — so much so that we broke the mold and forged our own future.

Being a member of the majority caucus in the Senate – and in the House of Representatives for that matter – comes with a mix of responsibility and influence.

Typically, the majority presides over every committee and decides which bills move forward. In true Majority Coalition Caucus fashion, we offered a handful of committee-leadership positions to Democrats comprising what was now the new minority caucus. Most were feeling jilted and rejected the offer, but a couple – either intrigued by the possibilities or motivated by a desire to stay at the table – accepted.

I’ll admit there were a few stumbles at first, but we collectively held our breath. Now, at more than halfway through our fourth legislative session, we’ve swapped a few members but we’re still the majority and we’re hitting our stride.

Over the past three sessions, we’ve upended priorities from past regimes; education has moved squarely to the top of the list. In the 30 years prior to the the Majority Coalition Caucus, the slice of the state budget dedicated to education had been shrinking. Under our watch, K-12 funding has jumped to 47 percent of the state’s budget – without raising general taxes or cutting services.

We put the brakes on runaway college costs in 2013 by freezing tuition at our state schools. That action provided the momentum for 2015 when the caucus cut tuition at all of Washington’s state-run colleges and universities, including our community colleges. A simple, yet revolutionary idea, so much so that no other state had ever done it.

The results have been immediate. This past fall, nearby Central Washington University saw first-year enrollment increase 21 percent over the previous year.

The current legislative session a “short” 60-day session, is scheduled to end March 10. Would there be reason for the majority to step out boldly again?

On Feb. 5, the majority caucus-led Senate rejected the confirmation of Gov. Jay Inslee’s candidate to head up the state Department of Transportation. One of the Senate’s unique duties is to confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments.

While I grudgingly admit our action wasn’t completely historic (we last exercised this option in 1998), judging from the angry cries of the governor and Seattle-based press, it might as well have been. According to the governor, our job is to rubber-stamp his appointments regardless of their lack of experience, mismanagement or project failures.

Our job, as we in the majority caucus see it, is to act in the best interest of the people who have elected us. Judging from the response I’ve gotten from drivers all over Washington, the folks who are paying for roads, bridges, buses and “mega” projects appreciate our oversight.

What do we have up our sleeve for the 2017 legislative session? There are three weeks left in the current legislative session and many more problem agencies.

We may still have more history to write in 2016.

The original article, published February 19, 2016, can be viewed here.

IN THE NEWS: Local men honored by state Filipino community

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Sunnyside’s Rey Pascua and Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) recently were honored for their ongoing support of Washington’s Filipino communities.

The Filipino Community of Seattle selected the two men for the Bayanihan Award given to those who promote community leadership, said Sheila Burrus, the Seattle organization’s executive director.

Honeyford and Pascua, were praised for their dedication and commitment to the values of the Filipino community in Washington state, Burrus explained.

Burrus commended Pascua, who is the president of the Lower Valley Filipino community organization, and Honeyford for their consistent advocatcy of the Filipino American community, “…especially their passion for diversity, work, political advocacy and Asian Pacific Islander historical preservation in central Washington.”

The presentation was made during the Seattle organization’s annual gala held last Saturday in Seattle.

The original article and photo can be viewed here.

IN THE NEWS: Civil Air Patrol honors

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Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside) receives the Legislator of the Year Award this past Saturday at the National Civil Air Patrol Convention in Orlando, Fla. Honeyford was honored for his work to benefit search and rescue efforts in Washington state, for his help in obtaining a hangar at the McAllister Air Museum in Yakima for a Civil Air Patrol plane, and for his efforts in forming a legislative squadron of 60 lawmakers in Washington state.

The original article and photo can be viewed here.

Senate continues to put the ‘public’ back in public education with capital-budget approval

Capital budgetThe Senate today approved its proposal to build over 2,100 classrooms, fully fund 80 parks and trails, inject $60 million into local-government infrastructure projects statewide and provide $30 million to expand the number of community behavioral health beds.

Over 30 percent of the Senate’s $3.9-billion capital budget is devoted to supporting public education – through funding of new classrooms tied to K-3 class-size reduction efforts, more backing for skills centers and allocations for key projects at Washington’s largest public universities.

“Every legislator in Olympia has been focused this year on how to reduce class size and substantively improve education, but none of that can happen without building more classrooms. With this capital budget we are providing the brick-and-mortar complement to the McCleary books and buses,” said the Senate’s capital-budget chair, Sen. Jim Honeyford.

“The capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state assets across Washington, and we saw opportunities to have it fit hand-in-glove with our operating budget and its emphasis on education. I’m pleased that my colleagues saw the possibilities I did for making education a priority in a way that hasn’t been seen in a generation,” said Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

Additionally, the capital-budget proposal would complete 80 parks and trails around the state that have been in the waiting line for years.

“By temporarily delaying the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program’s procurement of habitat lands, for two short years, it frees the WWRP to focus on its own goal of developing recreation areas for the people who should be using them – the taxpayers,” said Honeyford.

The Senate proposal also supports local infrastructure and provides family-wage jobs by funding projects on the state Public Works Board loan list, and public-works loans authorized by previous legislatures, in addition to allocating $37 million for new local projects.

“This education-focused proposal lays a solid foundation for final negotiations with the capital-budget leaders in the House of Representatives,” said Honeyford. “In the end I have no doubt that we will hammer out an agreement that supports our kids, provides important construction jobs and builds up our fragile economy.”


Legislature’s ‘aviation caucus’ to spotlight historic wartime flights

Kicking off the first 2015 meeting of the state Legislature’s “Aviation Caucus” Thursday will be a visit from two members of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation, a Bellingham-based group dedicated to recreating a flight along the historic Alaska-Siberia air route used in World War II.

20140217_LegWA_0009scThe little-known air route represented a dangerous 6,000-mile journey from Great Falls, Montana, to Alaska and on through Siberia to Moscow. As part of the Lend-Lease Program, the original BRAVO 369 pilots risked their lives by delivering military aircraft and other supplies to the United States’ allies in Russia during World War II.

“The story of the BRAVO 369 flights is fascinating and largely untold. Shedding light on these heroic pilots and making history come to life is exactly what I’d hoped I could do when I formed this caucus,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. Continue reading

Honeyford calls supplemental operating budget ‘good for Washington’

Senator Jim HoneyfordMembers of the state Senate today passed the 2014 supplemental operating budget proposal, which was supported by Sen. Jim Honeyford. The Sunnyside Republican noted that last year’s balanced, bipartisan budget was the primary reason for broad agreement on the supplemental budget more than two weeks before the end of the 60-day legislative session.

“The Majority Coalition Caucus produced a budget in 2013 that put more than a billion dollars into education, froze tuition for Washington college students and was projected to balance for four years,” said Honeyford, who represents the 15th Legislative District. “Because of that success there was no need to find places to cut this year. We didn’t have to look for ‘low-hanging fruit’ or waste valuable time trying to prioritize equally important provisions. When budgets are written right the first time, it makes the process that much easier to fine tune in supplemental years.” Continue reading