Session Wrap Up March 18, 2018
Environmental issues were not a priority for most of the majority party this session, but nevertheless real progress was made. Praise goes to Senator Ranker of Orcas Island for the passing of EHB 2957, Phasing out Atlantic salmon net pen aquaculture in Puget Sound.
LWVWA is a member of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, and two of the four priorities passed including E2SSB 6269 Oil Transportation Safety, sponsored by Senator Ranker, and ESHB 2658 Concerning the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging. Also passed was ESSB 6413 Reducing the use of certain toxic chemicals in firefighting activities, important to Washington State Council of Firefighters and some cities concerned about these chemicals degrading their water quality. Three common sense forest related bills we supported passed including SHB 2561 Wildland Fire Advisory Committee duties: SHB 2576 Fire Protection District Annexations and Mergers; and ESHB 2285 DNR reporting on Marbled Murrelet habitat. All these bills have been delivered to the Governor and await his signing.
A big disappointment was the failure of the Senator Carlyle’s Carbon Tax bill; some of the revenue would have gone to forest wildfire prevention and preparation, and to water projects.
Also there was a failure to take action on other important issues such as aquatic invasive species, fish barrier removal, biochar research, vesting, hydraulic fracturing, and reclaimed water. The Orca Protection Act did not pass, but was funded in the budget, and the Governor has issued an Executive Order protecting Orcas. We were also disappointed that a Hirst fix bill passed without protection for instream flows or senior water right holders; but that passage released the Capital budget which provided about $766 million for natural resource priorities.
OVERVIEW AND ALERTS
UPDATE FOR THE WEEK OF April 15, 2018
We celebrate the bills we supported that passed in the Legislature this session. The Governor signed the below bills and these will become law on June 7.
- E2SSB 6269 Oil Transportation Safety
- EHB 2957 Phasing out Atlantic salmon net pen aquaculture
- SHB 2561 Wildland Fire Advisory Committee temporary duties
- ESHB 2285 Marbeled Murrelet habitat reporting by DNR
- SHB 2576 Fire Protection district annexations and mergers
- EESSB 6413 Reducing the use of certain toxic chemicals in firefighting activities.
- ESHB 2658 Concerning the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging
FORESTS AND RIVERS
Issue Team Chair: Raelene Gold – rgold [at] lwvwa.org – 206-303-7218
Issue Paper: Forest and Rivers (PDF)
Bills the League Supports Which Passed
- 2SSB 6269 Oil Transportation Safety. Bill focuses on preparing for and preventing the evolving risk of oil spills in Puget Sound from pipelines, trains and vessels. Extends the barrel tax funding for implementation and inspectors. Establishes a Salish Sea shared waters forum with BC for cooperative actions. Greatly increased oil transport in our state and the transport of tar sands oil that sinks and can’t be cleaned up, make this legislation an urgent priority. A substitute lowered the barrel tax increase from 4 cents to 2 cents and added $200,000 annually to fund the National Guard decreased the amount going into the Oil Spill Response Account. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
SHB 2561 Wildland Fire Advisory Committee. Helps with increasing risk of wildfires and need for a coordinated rapid response. Substitute bill moved to Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks, hearing on February 20 and executive session February 22. Bill had hearing in Senate Ways & Means on February 24, and did pass out of the Senate before the final cut off. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
ESHB 2285 Establishing a reporting process for DNR regarding marbled murrelet habitat. The marbled murrelet is an endangered seabird that nests in our coastal forests. Good bill supported by Audubon WA. Bill passed out of House will have a hearing in Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks, hearing on February 20 and executive session February 22. Bill had hearing in Senate Ways & Means on February 24. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
- HB 2576 Fire Protection district annexations and mergers which helps streamline wildfire preparation and response. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass
- HJM 4014 Supporting the continued research, development, production, and application of biochar from our forests and agricultural lands. Advocates for utilizing forest and agricultural wastes to make biochar for its potential economic benefits and to offset costs of forest resilience projects. The production and utilization of Biochar may have very positive benefits for our state and memorial has strong bipartisan support. Bill passed out of the House on a unanimous vote, and had Public Hearing in Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks on February 20. Bill passed out of the Senate before the final cut-off. In Senate Rules second reading.
- ESB 6140 Promoting efficient and effective management of state-managed lands. We supported the original DNR request bill but not the amended bill. Hearing in House Capital Budget on February 26. The problem amendment was removed from the bill and the bill passed out of the House before the final cut off but did not get out of the Rules Committee.
SHORELINES, WETLANDS AND LAND USE
Issue Team Chair: Karen Luetjen – khluetjen [at] lwvwa.org
Issue Paper: Shorelines, Wetlands and Land Use (PDF)
Bills the League Supported Which Passed:
- EHB 2957 Reducing escape of nonnative finfish from marine finfish aquaculture. Prevents DNR from new, renewing or extending leases and increases inspections of current lease sites. Bill in Senate Rules Second reading. Beginning just before the cut off, the bill went the floor for a marathon session with over 30 amendments being offered and defeated before the final floor vote of 31 yea, 16, nay and 1 abstention. Give lots of thanks to Senators Ranker and Van de Wege for their patient and deft rebuttals to the never-ending amendments; thanks also to Senator Keiser for her equally patient and respectful chairing of the session. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
Issue Team Chair: Martin Gibbins – mgibbins [at] lwvwa.org
Issue Paper: Water (PDF)
Bills the League Supported Which Passed:
- ESSB 6413 Reducing the use of certain toxic chemicals in firefighting activities. This bill restricts the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (perfluorinated) chemicals in firefighting foams to locations of high volumes of petroleum fuels such as airports and refineries and requires additional reporting when used in firefighting protective suits. These chemicals have contaminated groundwater and have health consequences for firefighters. Washington State Council of Firefighters and some cities support this bill. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
- ESHB 2658 Perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging. This bill is a step toward finding safer alternatives to perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging. Some of the packaging in question is composted industrially, and it may find its way into landfills leaching into ground water. The governor signed this bill and it will become law on June 7.
Bills the League Supported Which Did Not Pass:
- SSB 6345 Hydraulic fracturing moratorium in Washington through December 31, 2028. An amended bill passed out of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks committee on a partisan vote, and passed to Senate Rules for a second reading. We believe that a moratorium is prudent while a study of fracking impacts proceeds, but this bill did not pass the Senate before cutoff.
- ESHB 2327 Appliance efficiency standards passed through the House and then through the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment & Technology where amendments removed all but water fixture standards. The remaining standards are mostly aligned with California standards so manufactures should not face a new set of requirements. This bill did not make it to the Senate floor in time for a vote.
Bills the League was Watching Which Did Not Pass:
- HB 2743 / SB 6390 Integration of reclaimed water, water system planning and groundwater source protection. These bills stipulate additional requirements for coordinating with municipal water utilities when the use of reclaimed water might affect the water supply quantity or quality either in rivers or aquifers. Although improving coordination is a positive, the League has concerns with reclaimed water, even Class A, that might enter the municipal water systems due to impurities remaining including pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupting compounds, and perfluorinated chemicals. In committee hearings on the bills some cities, utilities, and environmental groups expressed positions for, others against. These bills did not pass out of their houses before cutoff.
Bills the League Opposed Which Passed:
- SSB 6091 Hirst Bill on water availability. On January 18, the bill passed both the Senate and House in a bipartisan effort to address the Hirst decision. Passage of a capital budget was contingent on passage of this bill. Although the final version included $300 million for restoration projects, the League opposed this bill because it favored development over preserving instream flows, senior water rights, and Native American Treaty rights. The Lobby Team intends to monitor implementation of this bill to ensure effective restoration projects are implemented. The Department of Ecology has published more information on the resulting law at their web site.
Other Water Quality Issues
The Department of Ecology is revising the Storm Water Management Manual for Western Washington. With contributions from knowledgeable League members, we evaluated and supported recommended revisions from professionals in the field that attempt to better control runoff from construction sites, improve performance of water infiltration systems, and strengthen the qualifications of those who design and monitor the installation of these mitigations. The public comment period is over for this step in the process.