DEADLINES ZIPPING BY, ALMOST TIME FOR SINE DIE
Today is the last day for fiscal committees to hear bills from the opposite houses in the State Legislature. So after today, all the action is in caucus and on the floors. The few committee meetings there are will focus on plans for the interim, or on work sessions keyed to certain issues (However, please note on updated Hot Sheet, that there have been some cancellations). Each house will have until April 13 for final action on bills (except initiatives, budget bills, differences between the houses and matters incident to the interim and closing of session). April 22 is the last scheduled day of the session. But there is a lot of hope on the hill that the work can be completed early, enabling an early adjournment, or as the legislature refers to it, Sine Die.
Key above all else for legislators at this juncture is reconciling the House, Senate and Governor’s budgets into one with which most of the state’s lawmakers can concur. There are many differences to settle, and it is difficult to say if these issues will be wrapped up quickly, or if it will turn into a partisan battle. With the democrats in charge, however, early adjournment is a good possibility. To access the budgets, click on http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/proposals.asp. Other links include: SHB 1092 – Making appropriations and authorizing expenditures for capital improvements; SHB 1128 – Making operating appropriations for 2007-2009; SHB 1929 – Authorizing utilities to engage in environmental mitigation efforts.
PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP, POLICY BILL:PASSES APPROPRIATIONS (SB 5372)
SB 5372, the Senate version of the Puget Sound Partnership policy bill, was passed by the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee late last week, moving forth a bill that had undergone substantial changes in both houses. The likely scenario now is that it will go through House Rules and onto the House floor. If all goes well there, any necessary reconciling (receding) will be done between the houses and the bill will be sent to the Governor for signing. The budget appropriated to the new agency is now key and is represented in the budgets. It appears that the Senate version of the Capital Budget possibly has $20 million more than the House version. Full analyses of this will be completed soon. It also appears that the ask for $6 million from the Operating Budget for watershed/tribal funding was zeroed out in both the House and Senate. Terry Wright, who has worked extensively on the policy bill this session, has reported to tribes that he believes tribes got most of what was being sought in SB 5372. He added, however, that one issue that remains in the policy bill is the concept of regional action areas. These are no longer new organizations but rather an individual that is designated by each region, to help incorporate local information into the plan (Sec 8 pages 8 through 10). Terry says that this provision in the bill appears to be written loosely enough that it should be workable. He has distributed a copy of the latest bill, along with an outline of its key components, to the tribes. Any tribe with any ongoing concerns about this or any other element of the bill should contact Terry at (360) 528-4336 or email@example.com.
THE RETURN OF THE RURAL VILLAGE
HB 1727, the Growth Management Planning bill, now in Senate Rules, has been engrossed to resurrect rural villages in the State legislature. Following is a link the striker language: http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2007-08/Pdf/Amendments/Senate/1727-S.E%20AMS%20GO%20S3188.2.pdf
NWIFC had been informed that the Cascade Land Conservancy worked with realtors and have hung their Rural Villages language onto this existing house bill that is now in Senate Rules. Among other things, the bill expands rural village pilots to 350 (from a previous maximum of 200). Tribes/NWIFC had indicated earlier in session that the farthest we could go with RV’s this session would be a study bill that focuses on a variety of possible approaches to the management of urban sprawl. Tribes have responded to this issue with a resounding NO to this engrossed legislation.
BALLAST WATER BILLS ENGROSSED INTO SB 5923, BILL FAILS DEADLINE, BUT…
The ballast water bills, which have been supported by tribes, but failed to meet deadline due to heavy lobbying by cruise and other elements of the shipping industry, have been merged into SB 5923, the “Aquatic Invasive Species Bill.” Unfortunately, that bill failed to make deadlines also, but there are indications the bill could be exempted from deadline. Tribes able to weigh in on this legislation are encouraged to contact the following legislators. Some key points are provided below.
Rep. Lynn Kessler: 360 786-7904 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Kelli Linville: 360 786- 7854 email@example.com
Rep. Sam Hunt: 360 786-7992 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Hans Dunshee 360 786-7804 email@example.com
Rep. Dave Upthegrove 360 786-7868 firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Key Points Regarding SB 5923:
• This is the priority policy bill for WDFW Enforcement, WDFW aquatic Nuisance Species Unit, and the Ballast Water Work Group.
• It has no negative fiscal impact.
• The aquatic invasive species Enforcement portion of bill (Sec. 1-8) is critical for enhanced prevention of new, and spread of existing invasive species such as zebra/quagga mussels and milfoil. It addresses the primary pathway of introduction and spread – “hitchhiking” on watercraft being transported to and within the state.
• The ballast water portion of bill (Sec. 9-18) necessary to implement consensus recommendation of legislatively created Ballast Water Work Group. The group membership is composed of PSAT, WDFW, shipping industry, oil tanker industry, ports, and environmental stakeholders. This legislation represents 4 years of negotiating and is critical to enhanced capability to prevent invasive species introductions from ballast water.
OIL SPILL BILL SPREADS OUT
HB1488, the “Oil Spill Program” was moved along by the Senate Ways and Means Committee today. This is a stripped down version of the bill which calls for a year round tug at Neah Bay, but has no revenue. The bill is designed to become a vehicle for a compromise that the legislature is working on with the Governor and the state and Makah Tribe is working on with Senator Maria Cantwell. NWIFC and the Makah Tribe testified in favor of this bill—as a step toward federal support for construction of an “enhanced tug” over the next few years. An enhanced tug, similar to the one now based at Prince William Sound in Alaska, would be a newly built vessel capable of responding to any size ship in any kind of weather. It would also likely be used for rescue missions, etc.
INDUSTRY MAKES BIG PUSH AGAINST PBDE BILL (ESHB 1024)
Although the bromine chemical industry stepped up its campaign against the PBDE bill, intended to phase out toxic flame retardants, the bill has moved onto the Senate floor and appears to have “legs.” Tribal testimony supported the PBDE legislation, based on the fact that PBDE’s have become very prevalent in the environment.