40 Days into the State Legislative Session…Update on our Priorities

40 Days into the State Legislative Session…Update on our Priorities

Thank you to everyone who has responded to our action alerts and registered support for our legislative priorities! We are more than half-way through the legislative session. Bills (except for those related to the budget) must pass out of the opposite house by March 4th. With the release of the revenue forecast, the focus will shift to budget proposals.

Upcoming deadlines:

Feb 24 – Bills must pass out of policy committee in the opposite house.
Feb 28 – Bills must pass out of fiscal committee in the opposite house.
March 4 – Bills must pass out of the opposite house.

Resources for participating in this legislative session:

Friends Legislative Priorities that are still moving forward:

Gov. Inslee’s salmon recovery plan and climate proposals.

SB 5885 Concerning marine shoreline habitat.

Requires the State to conduct a baseline survey of all marine shorelines to document and map existing shoreline conditions. State and local agencies would then be required to compare permit data with survey results to identify unpermitted development subject to enforcement. The surveys would also be required to be updated every two years, which would deter new, unpermitted development.

HB 1691 Concerning financial responsibility requirements related to oil spills.

Improves the state’s requirements for oil handling facilities (refineries, oil terminals, and pipelines) and large commercial vessels to show proof of financial responsibility to pay for response and damage costs from oil spills and hazardous materials spills. Requires Ecology to conduct a rulemaking to determine the costs of a major spill from oil handling facilities. Requires oil handling facilities to pay federally recognized Tribes for damages, in addition to the state and local jurisdictions.

HB 1700 Concerning sustainable funding for the derelict vessel removal account using the vessel watercraft excise tax.

While the number of derelict vessels continues to increase, the DNR Derelict Vessel Removal Program (DVRP) has not seen a budget increase in 10 years. Consequently, DNR regularly has to ask the Legislature for additional funds, and/or local jurisdictions have to cover the cost of derelict vessel removals in order to avoid costlier and environmentally damaging oil spills.

HB 1117 Promoting salmon recovery through revisions to the state’s comprehensive planning framework.

This legislation would require the land use element of comprehensive plans adopted under the Growth Management Act (GMA), including the one in San Juan County, to include a strategy that achieves net ecological gain of salmon habitat. The Department of Fish and Wildlife would be required to adopt rules that establish criteria for net ecological gain which certain counties and cities must meet through adoption of comprehensive plans.

SB 5747 Concerning the statewide master oil and hazardous substance spill prevention and contingency plan.

When updating the statewide master oil and hazardous substance spill prevention and contingency plan, Ecology would be required to expand consultations, including with Tribes, and include the responsibilities of Tribes in the prevention, assessment, containment, and cleanup of a worst-case spill of oil or hazardous substances. If this bill is passed, Ecology must require or schedule unannounced oil spill drills under statutory authority on covered vessels oil spill contingency plans.

Friends is also supporting the WA Can’t Wait campaign:

  • HB 1099 Improving the state’s climate response through updates to the state’s comprehensive planning framework.

GMA updates to ensure Washington cities and counties are planning for climate resilient communities while reducing our contributions to the climate crisis.

  • SB 5042 Concerning the effective date of certain actions taken under the Growth Management Act.

Protect farmland, forests, and critical habitats from unnecessary and harmful development and sprawl by closing the ‘illegal growth loophole.’

  • HB 1220 Supporting emergency shelters and housing through local planning and development regulations – passed in 2021 legislative session.

Funding is needed for housing equity and to ensure the implementation of this bill.

These bills would reduce fossil fuel pollution from our homes and buildings and improve energy efficiency and affordability:

  • HB 1770 Strengthening energy codes.
  • SB 5722 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.
  • HB 1767 Concerning the authority of publicly owned electric utilities to engage in targeted electrification through the adoption of plans that establish a finding that utility outreach and investment in the conversion of its customers’ end use equipment from fossil fuels to electricity will provide net benefits to the utility.

The following priority bills are no longer moving forward in this legislative session:

HB 1838/SB 5727 Protecting, restoring, and maintaining habitat for salmon recovery.

The Lorraine Loomis Act honors the legacy of the former chairperson of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission who passed away in August 2021. This legislation would improve riparian buffer requirements and includes $100 million for a new riparian grant program. The Governor’s budget includes funding related to this bill. If approved/adopted, that funding could implement elements of this bill.

SB 5567 Concerning commercial salmon fishing.

This legislation would allow the use of alternative fishing gears (e.g., fish traps) and requires fisheries that use alternative gear to release threatened and endangered salmon with minimal mortality, ensure compliance with tribal fishing rights, and remain within established allocations for the commercial sector ensure adequate escapement for recreational and hatchery broodstock. A pilot project on the Columbia River would test selective harvest techniques, support sustainable fisheries, and improve protection for endangered salmon.

SB 5697/HB 2003 Renewing Washington’s recycling system and reducing waste.

The RENEW Act modernizes Washington’s recycling system and reduces waste by creating a set of graduated fees on packaging manufacturers based on how readily reusable, compostable, or recyclable their products are. Fees will be used to fund improvements in infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle.

We chose to live on the westside of San Juan Island because of its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it for future generations. That’s where the Friends of the San Juans come in. Since their inception, they have been the guardians of the Salish Sea and this place we call home.

Glen and Deb Bruels

members, San Juan Island