On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:
Archive for Environment
The Washington State Legislature adjourned shortly before midnight on Thursday, the final day of the regular 2014 session. It’s the first time since 2009 that lawmakers finished their work without going into an overtime special session.
Here’s an overview of what lawmakers accomplished — and didn’t accomplish — during the session.
Supplemental budget: Both chambers agreed on a supplemental operating budget that spends about $155 million, including $58 for K-12 books and supplies. It also adds additional money to the mental health system, early learning and prisons. It does not include any new taxes or tax breaks, nor does it include teacher pay raises.
Dream Act/Real Hope Act: The Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day. The Senate renamed it the Real Hope Act and added $5 million to the state need grant. It was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in February.
Homeless fees: As part of a last-minute deal, lawmakers agreed to extend until 2019 a $40 document recording fee that people pay during real estate transaction, such as buying or refinancing a house. The fee supports homeless shelters, affordable housing and other services and was scheduled to sunset unless the Legislature took action.
24 credit diploma: Starting with the class of 2019, high school students will have to earn 24 credits for a diploma. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum. The bill will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.
Tanning beds ban: Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington. Senate Bill 6065 bans minors from using tanning beds, unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations.
Domestic violence: Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders will soon be barred from owning guns. The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement.
Drones: The Legislature approved a bill that puts limits government agencies that use drones, or remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance. An agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions, such as a fire or other emergency.
Religious holidays: State employees will be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons, and public school children will be excused for two days under a bill approved by the Legislature.
Military in-state tuition: Veterans and active duty military members will soon qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to first establish residency. Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families.
Short-barreled rifles: Washington gun owners will soon be allowed to own a short-barreled rifle under a bill approved by the Legislature. It is currently a felony to own a gun with a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or to have a modified gun that is shorter than 26 inches overall. (more…)
Washington lawmakers want to make sure invasive species do not infest the state’s waterways.
The Senate passed a bill Thursday that will address invasive species through an “integrated pest management” approach. It passed unanimously in the Senate and with a vote of 97-1 in the House.
The legislative action comes after zebra mussels, an invasive species from Russia, were spotted in Lake Powell, bordering Utah and Arizona. Zebra mussels multiply quickly, deplete water nutrients, clog pipes and take away natural resources from native species.
“This is a biological wildfire. What’s worse is that we don’t see the one that’s underwater,” said Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson at a previous Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the issue.
Senate Bill 6040 aims to manage invasive species by reinforcing monitoring checkpoints, providing technical assistance to environmental groups and giving a portion of tax revenues to prevention efforts. It will also conduct education and outreach programs to inform the public about the issue.
Supporters, including Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, said that the bill is critical to deal with the threat of invasive species more effectively and offers organizations more tools in case of emergency situations.
However, a funding source to implement these measures is not included in the bill.
During a Senate Floor Debate Thursday, Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said that the bill only establishes a policy because the House “stripped” the funding account leaving lawmakers to address the issue “next year.”
The governor’s signature is the final act needed for the bill to become a law.
Existing floating homes would be allowed to stay on Lake Union in Seattle and other shorelines, under a bill that passed in the Senate and was heard in a House committee Friday.
The move would be welcome by residents of floating homes, such as John Chaney, of the Lake Union Liveaboard Association, who says that houses like his do not deserve their reputation among regulators.
“We’re no longer the ‘shanty shacks’ that dump sewage and garbage into our state’s waters,” he said.
Floating homes differ from houseboats; houseboats have motors and are designed for navigation and floating homes are house structures built on a barge or a similar floating structure.
Under SB 6540 sponsored by Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), local governments would have to grandfather in floating on-water residences in local shoreline regulations if the homes were established lawfully by July 1, 2014.
However, Susan Neff, who lives in a houseboat on Lake Union, opposed the bill, saying that owners of floating homes are taking up shoreline space that can no longer be used by other boaters.
“I view this as an aquatic land grab,” she said. “The space is limited. We’re not building new marinas.”
She also feels there is not enough regulation on how floating homes are built.
But Barbara Ingram, who said her floating home on Lake Union is her main investment, said that shoreline regulations would force her at age 76 to buy a home or pay rent.
“Frankly, I can’t manage that,” she said.
The bill is one of several this session concerning on-water dwellings.
TVW webcast the hearing.
Legislators in the Senate passed a bill that would create a task force to study nuclear power. The task force would look into using nuclear power to replace fossil fuels in Washington state.
Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) supported SB 5991 and said Washington is missing out on money the federal government has been investing in nuclear power in other states.
The Columbia Generating Station in Richland is the state’s only commercial nuclear power plant.
“There’s great opportunities and I think this task force will pave the way for new things happening in Washington state that provide low-cost, no-carbon, carbon-free power for years to come,” he said.
Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island) said nuclear disasters in New Jersey, Chernobyl and Fukushima should serve as a warning.
“I was a 12-year-old girl in New Jersey when Three Mile Island had its leak, had its accident,” she said. “I would never put my children through that kind of fear.”
She said studying nuclear power is the wrong direction for Washington.
“Let’s not talk about expanding smaller nuclear packages throughout our state and putting more communities at risk.”
According to the bill the task force must consist of eight members that serve in the House and Senate committees that are concerned with energy issues. The members would be equally represented from the caucuses.
However, Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) says the U.S. Navy has been operating smaller nuclear reactors throughout the country, including at the naval bases near Bremerton.
“This can and is done in a safe and thoughtful manner. We shouldn’t just say no because it says nuclear, and I think this is a good approach.”
Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline) said a study would help lawmakers make policy decisions based on facts.
“I am not afraid of a study. I believe a study a scientific study would give us both the pros and the cons of this proposal,” she said. “These smaller plants, do I know that they’re good? Do I know that they’re bad? No. I want to take a look at the study.”
Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) said his concern was over the bill’s language.
“I have a problem with the definitive statement by the legislature in the intent section that this is a safe industry,” he said. “We’ll be putting our imprimatur on it.”
Senate Bill 5991 passed 34-15. It would have to be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the governor before becoming law.
The House Environment Committee discussed a bill Wednesday that would nearly triple the penalty for littering to $125. Currently, littering in small amounts is a $50 fine.
Whether it’s a result of bad habits, lack of waste bins, overcrowding or a mixture of all these factors, litter is a problem in Washington.
In 2012, more than four million pounds of “stuff” was picked up by environmental groups in Washington, according to the Washington State Dept. of Ecology.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that West Coast communities spend more than half a billion dollars each year to control litter and marine debris.
Prime sponsor of the anti-littering bill, Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, said of raising the fine, “It’s the least we should do.”
The money collected from the higher fines would go towards litter-reduction efforts and state parks. No one testified at the hearing. The bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Friday.
They are small creatures that come from far away. And the damage they do can be intense.
Zebra mussels are an invasive species that multiply quickly, deplete water nutrients, clog pipes and take away natural resources from native species.
Originally from Russia, they have spread through the Great Lakes in Michigan and Canada. Recently, they have been spotted in Lake Powell, bordering Utah and Arizona, putting extra pressure on lawmakers to take action.
“This is a biological wildfire. What’s worse is that we don’t see the one that’s underwater,” said Idaho Rep. Eric Anderson, who testified at Thursday’s hearing.
House Bill 2458 would use an “integrative pest management” strategy to control and prevent the spread of zebra mussels in Washington state.
The bill would provide community block grants that can be used for educational campaigns to inform the public about the issue. It would also expand inspection checkpoints and ensure organizations have access to tools that can help protect Washington’s waterways in case of emergency situations.
Supporters testified at at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing and said that Washington’s economy and ecology are at stake.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, said that these changes would not add fees because the bill would create a funding account for stricter oversight.
“Prevention is the only opportunity we have,” said Anderson in response.
No one younger than 16-years-old can get behind the wheel of a car alone. Yet, there is no age requirement for hunting alone. A new bill would change that.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee discussed House Bill 2459, which would require young hunters to be accompanied by an adult when they are younger than 14-years-old. It would also establish that students need to be at least eight-years-old to enroll in hunter education training classes.
Supporters of the bill explained that younger students often need more attention, which distracts from the adults in classes. But the primary goal is to increase safety for children and prevent accidents from happening in the outdoors.
Certified hunting instruction chief, Bill Montgomery, added, “You’ve got to help kids when they’re young. They’ve got a lot of distractions like girls and video games.”
There was no testimony against the bill.
On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we cover two bills considered in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. One bill aims to end the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors, and the other would increase suicide prevention training for medical professionals.
We also have highlights from the floor debate about a bill that would ban certain flame retardants from being used in furniture and children’s products. Plus, a debate over a bill that would tighten the state’s oil spill laws.
Watch the show below:
The controversial GMO debate resurfaced in Olympia today.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on House Bill 2143, which would prohibit the production of genetically engineered fish in state waters. It would also require labels on GMO salmon.
Currently, there are no state or federal labeling requirements for genetically modified food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce a decision on allowing the production of genetically modified salmon. If approved, it could set a precedent for approval of other genetically modified animals.
Just a few months ago Washington voters turned down Initiative 522, which would have required labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients.
Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, blamed the rejection on language problems with the initiative. Condotta, who is the prime sponsor of the fish bill, said that more than 60 percent of the public want to know if their food has been modified — especially when it comes to fish.
“Modifying an animal is different than a crop,” said Condotta.
Bill supporters added that modified fish may threaten natural habitats and raised concerns about the potential health risks of transgenic fish.
However, opponents said that the definition of “genetically modified” is too broad and that regulating state waters is an unrealistic solution to a nonexistent problem. Many testifiers said that the bill is not only unnecessary and unwanted, but also a scare-tactic with no scientific evidence.
“This is a time to let science rule, not emotion,” said John Dentler with Troutlodge, a trout producing company.
The lawmakers did not take action on the bill Friday.
Some of the newest members of the House discussed their personal legislative agendas for the upcoming session.
The representatives include: Rep. Tana Senn, D- Mercer Island, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D- Seattle, Rep. Chad Magendanz, R- Issaquah, and Rep. Drew MacEwen, R- Union. Senn was appointed by the King County Council to fill a seat vacated by Marcie Maxwell, who resigned in July to join the governor’s office.
While the freshmen agreed that transportation is a key issue, they each have different bills that they are trying to push forward.
Here are their top priorities:
Senn, who is the newest member of House Democratic Caucus, said she plans to focus on childcare bills. She is also focused on finding ways to better integrate human services with early education. “I’m really looking at how we can make sure those can go hand-in-hand and remain together,” Senn said.
Magendanz is interested in improving the higher education system. He will propose a bill that would make Washington the 8th state to use “economic success metrics” to rank higher education institutions. The metrics help students decide which college will give them the “biggest bang for your buck,” Magendanz said.
Oil spill prevention is a top priority for Farrell. She is calling for stricter regulations and transparency for oil transportation policies. “We’re transporting more oil over land, we’re transporting more oil over water and we need to catch up to make sure our communities are safe,” Farrell said.
MacEwen said he wants to reform the state’s business and occupation tax, or B&O tax, to create a business culture in Washington where ”businesses want to stay here.” He is also supporting an aquatic invasive species protection bill to prevent a “catastrophic” outbreak.
The representatives admit that it may be more challenging to achieve their priorities in a short session. With a short 60 day session comes smaller ambitions. Since Washington law prohibits elected officials from raising funds during the session, there is political motivation to finish the job on time.
”There’s a lot of issues that are long-term issues and with this being a short session, I think we’re not going to tackle a lot of them,” Senn said.
TVW will air a segment about the freshmen lawmakers on this week’s edition of ”The Impact.” It will air Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7 and 10 p.m.
Washington is weighing new fish consumption rates to better protect people from the cancer-causing toxins that can get into seafood, an issue that’s being closely watched by the state’s manufacturing industry.
Industries that discharge toxins into Washington’s waterways must abide by water pollution standards that are set based upon on how much fresh fish people are eating from those same waters.
Right now, the standards assume that people eat 6.5 grams a day. That’s roughly the size of a saltine cracker, or one 8-ounce fish fillet a month, Sen. Maralyn Chase said Thursday.
The current numbers are far below the amount of fish eaten by many of the state’s tribal members, and the Dept. of Ecology is researching alternatives for updating the consumption rate. The proposals aim to reduce expose to toxins such as arsenic, PCBs and mercury.
Kelly Susewind, the department’s water quality program manager, presented three alternatives during Thursday’s meeting of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee:
- Increasing to 125 grams of fish a day, or 8 pounds a month. That’s the average fish consumption rate of three Puget Sound tribes who were surveyed on their eating habits.
- Increasing to 175 grams of fish a day, or 12 pounds a month. Oregon recently adopted this standard.
- Increasing to 225 grams of fish a day, or 15 pounds a month. That’s the average rate based on data from the Suquamish Tribe and recreational fishers.
Depending on which scenario is adopted, it could tighten the state’s water pollution standards by 50 percent to 95 percent, Susewind said. For some industries, it could take more than 10 years to comply with those new standards, he said.
Boeing and other industries have opposed increasing fish consumption standards, saying it would require hundreds of millions of dollars in renovations.
Republican chair Sen. Doug Ericksen opened the hearing on Thursday by saying the issue was important in convincing Boeing to build its 777X airplane in Washington, and later asked about South Carolina’s fish consumption rate. The southern state is one of several that Boeing is considering for production of the 777X.
South Carolina’s fish consumption rate is 17.5 grams of fish per day, Susewind said, but it is very different in geography and population than Washington. “Other states probably don’t have the bounty of fish we do,” he said.
Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, said she was “offended” at the idea that water quality standards could be held “hostage to manufacturing, whether in the Puget Sound or South Carolina.”
Chase said the committee should use the “kind of standards we want for our grandchildren” as the benchmark for water pollution limits, not those of manufacturers.
The Dept. of Ecology will release its proposed rules for fish consumption in early 2014.
The agency overseeing the permitting process for a controversial oil terminal in Vancouver agreed Wednesday to extend the public comment period and hold an additional hearing about the project in Spokane.
The proposal by Tesoro Corporation and Savage Companies would create the Pacific Northwest’s largest oil terminal.
Oil would be brought by train from North Dakota to the Port of Vancouver in Washington, where it would be stored and then transferred to ships.
Hundreds of people turned out to speak about the proposal during two days of hearings in Vancouver last month, with many opposed to the project because of environmental concerns.
Others spoke about the risks associated with hauling oil by train through the Columbia River region. TVW taped the hearing.
The state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council organized the hearings as part of the scoping process to determine what should go into an environmental impact statement.
At a special meeting of the EFSEC council in Olympia on Wednesday, council manager Stephen Posner said there’s been 400 comments submitted so far about the project.
Posner recommended the agency extend the public comment period by 30 days and hold an additional hearing in Spokane to give more people a chance to weigh in.
Council chair Bill Lynch said he supported giving those in Eastern Washington who may be affected by train traffic an opportunity to comment. “It’s appropriate to have a hearing in Spokane,” Lynch said.
Posner said the hearing in Eastern Washington would likely be set for the second week of December. The public comment period would be extended until Dec. 18.
During tough economic times, the state Legislature has routinely taken money out of an account designated for cleaning up toxic sites in Washington.
This year, legislators transferred $29 million out of the cleanup account, known as the Model Toxics Control Act, and made another one-time shift of $9.8 million dollars, according to budget officials.
Now it’s time to stop, environmental advocates told legislators during a committee hearing on Wednesday.
Rod Brown of the Washington Environmental Council said the Legislature has been raiding the account for several years. “At first we didn’t like it, but 2007 was a horrible year and the recession was bad for everyone,” he said. “We were quiet.”
But things are different now. “We’re out of the recession,” Brown said. “The raiding hasn’t slowed down, it’s increasing.”
In 1988, Washington voters approved a tax on hazardous materials in order to fund the Model Toxics Control Act, or MTCA. The account provides the state Ecology Department with about $200 million each year to clean up contaminated sites throughout the state.
Carol Kraege of the Ecology Department told lawmakers that there are persistent problems with some of the state’s cleanup sites.
Commencement Bay near Tacoma was cleaned up using money from the MTCA account, Kraege said. After removing metals and other chemicals, the agency discovered the bay is being recontaminated by phthalates that are used in plastics and personal care products, she said.
In the Spokane River, the agency is still finding high levels of PCBs after cleanup efforts, Kraege said.
And in the Puget Sound, there are an increasing number of intersex fish — male fish with female egg proteins — that Kraege said could be a result of exposure to chemicals.
“Despite having some very progressive and outstanding programs to address toxics in the environment, we still have problems that we don’t really have the tools to address,” Kraege said.
TVW taped the House Environment Committee hearing — watch it online here.
Here’s what is airing this week on TVW. We’ll update this post as events get added.
Tuesday Oct. 22 at 9 a.m.: The Washington Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could determine if employers are required to accommodate their employees’ religious practices. It stems from a lawsuit brought by four employees of Gate Gourmet, a company that prepares airline food. Because of security reasons, the employees are not allowed to bring lunch to work. They argue that the company provided them meals without labeling the ingredients, leading some employees to unknowingly eat pork or other meats that violate their religious beliefs.
The Seattle Times has more details about the case here. TVW will air the arguments live on television.
Tuesday Oct. 22 at 8 p.m.: TVW will air a segment of the 2013 Washington Senior Citizens’ Foundation Conference. Speakers include Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on “Consumer Protection and Fraud Abuse.”
Wednesday Oct. 23 at 10 a.m.: The House Environment Committee is holding a work session to discuss the Model Toxics Control Act, which provides the state Ecology Department with funding to clean up sites contaminated by hazardous substances. The committee will get a funding and priority update on the account. TVW will air the hearing live on television and webcast it here.
Wednesday Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.: TVW will live webcast a public hearing of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup chaired by Gov. Jay Inslee. The committee will be hearing public comments about how the state can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting will be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle. Watch the webcast at this link.
Wednesday Oct. 23 at 7 & 10 p.m.: On this week’s edition of “The Impact,” host Anita Kissee looks at why the Dept. of Natural Resources is forcing houseboats and their owners out of Harbor waters. Plus, a conversation with the author of the country’s first public charter school.
Wednesday Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.: TVW will air a segment of the 2013 Washington Senior Citizens’ Foundation Conference. Speakers include Kevin W. Quigley, the Secretary of Department of Social & Health Services.
Thursday Oct. 24 at 9 a.m.: The Washington Supreme Court will hear a gain-sharing case that could affect state retirees enrolled in what’s known as “Plan 3.” The Washington Education Association brought the case, and has more details here.
Thursday Oct. 24 at 8 p.m.: TVW will air a segment of the 2013 Washington Senior Citizens’ Foundation Conference. A panel of speakers will discuss the state’s mental health services.
The Senate passed a bill that fixes a state Supreme Court ruling on the estate tax just before midnight on Thursday, sending the bill to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk in the early hours of Friday morning to be signed into law. The House approved the same measure earlier in the day.
The move comes just in the nick of time — the state was due to start mailing out millions of dollars in tax refund checks on Friday morning if there wasn’t a legislative fix in place. The new law closes what supporters call a “loophole” in the estate tax law that allowed married couples to avoid paying the estate tax if they used a certain type of trust.
Before the vote on the estate tax, both chambers quickly passed a bill to reform the state’s Model Toxics Control Act. The Senate first adopted the bill and sent it to the House shortly after 11 p.m., where it passed in less than 10 minutes. Inslee signed it into law at the same time as the estate tax bill.
The debate over climate change continued Tuesday in the Senate Energy Committee, where Republican chairman Sen. Doug Ericksen invited testimony from a professor who argued that global warming is not a man-made problem.
It comes on the heels of the House’s approval on Monday of a climate change bill. The bill, which was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee and previously passed by the Senate, creates a work group to study ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state.
Ericksen said in a press release he invited the professor so there could be “multiple views” on the issue. “Earlier in the session, the governor gave his side of the issue and now we’ll hear from an expert with a different viewpoint,” he said.
Dr. Don Easterbrook, a geology professor emeritus at Western Washington University, spoke directly to some of the claims made during the previous day’s discussion of SB 5802.
“Global warming ended in 1998,” said Easterbrook. “Even the chairman of the U.N. group that has been pushing CO2 as the cause of climate change admits there has been no global warming in the past 15 years.”
Throughout the presentation Easterbrook presented data to support claims that global warming is cyclical. He also said that carbon dioxide cannot cause climate change, that the Antarctic sheet is not shrinking, but growing, and that severe storms are no more frequent today than they have been in years past.
“There’s nothing new about global warming,” Eastbrook said. “It’s been going on for thousands of years at much higher rates for much longer periods of time than we’ve experienced since CO2 levels began to become elevated.”
Eastbrook fielded several questions from senators who asked about contradicting studies that they’ve received from previous panels of experts.
“What you just put out on your slide goes contrary to the data that I have before me,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island).
“What you’re looking at is data that has been tampered with by NOA and NASA,” said Eastbrook in response. “I’m not saying that they have done something which is spurious and evil, what I’m saying is they have what you call ‘adjusted’ data.”
Watch his presentation below:
On Monday’s “Legislative Review,” we cover debate on the House floor over Gov. Jay Inslee‘s climate change bill. The measure creates a work group to study ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. In the Senate, lawmakers approved a measure that makes March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”
We also have details about a domestic violence bill that would ban people with protection orders against them from having guns while the order is in place. Plus, a measure that aims to close the gap between the mental health system and jails.
The state House on Wednesday approved legislation that creates a legislative work group to study the best way to meet state targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Gov. Jay Inslee and his staff actively lobbied for Senate Bill 5802, which would set a framework to achieve emission goals set by lawmakers in 2008: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.
The governor’s office would contract with an “independent and objective” group to evaluate approaches to reduce emissions. The state estimates that the study and related expenses would cost $350,000.
The measure passed by a vote of 61-32. Republicans who voted against the bill said the measure lacked protections for consumers and manufacturers who depend on stable energy prices.
“The wind doesn’t blow 360 days a year, it’s not predictable. And the sun doesn’t shine 24 hours a day whereas many forms of energy we have out there right now that are clean, such as hydro and nuclear, are completely predictable,” said Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick).
During testimony before the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee last month, Inslee said inaction on carbon pollution could cost Washington’s economy $10 billion by 2020.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this month on a bi-partisan vote of 37-12. The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.
The debate continued Wednesday over a measure allowing livestock and pet owners to kill endangered gray wolves without a permit when the wolves are attacking their animals.
A coalition of commissioners from Okanogan, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties traveled to Olympia to deliver a stern message in front of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
“Will we act as county commissioners if you fail to? I will make that choice to act because we can’t wait any longer,” said Stevens County Commissioner Wes McCart. “The ability to protect your life, your family, your food, your pets – to me this is one of the Constitutional rights that we have and under the law. If you shoot a wolf without a permit right now, you will go to jail or pay a fine or both. This is wrong.”
Under current law, the penalty for killing a wolf without a permit is a gross misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class C felony for the second offense, which could result in a $5,000 fine or a year in jail.
The commissioners say they have collectively agreed to file a state of emergency and take care of the problem themselves if the Legislature doesn’t approve Senate Bill 5187.
Lawmakers also heard from John Stevie, whose Siberian Husky was attacked by a wolf last week in the backyard of his home near Twisp. Stevie brought the dog, Shelby, to Olympia on Wednesday to illustrate the risk posed to his pets and family.
“I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I pulled the doors open and about two feet from me as I stepped out onto the deck, this wolf he was 100 pounds plus … it had her by the head on the porch,” Stevie said. “What’s it gonna take here? We have no rights to do anything. We can’t protect ourselves. We can’t protect our animals. Whether this bill goes through or not, I’m not going to let this happen again.”
Opponents of the measure told the committee the bill would hurt the state’s wolf recovery efforts after years of work went into the state’s wolf plan.
“We believe it undermines the balance of the conversation and management plan. People already have the ability under the plan to kill wolves caught in the act of killing livestock by asking landowners to acquire a permit when they see a problem developing,” said Jasmine Minbashian with Conservation Northwest.
The committee did not take action on the bill.