ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Tribal/Legislative Lunch will be Noon-1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 (the first day of spring) in the Washington Room of the Joel Pritchard Building on the State Capitol Campus in Olympia. The topic this year is “The ABC’s of Tribal Water Law.” Presenters will include Prof. Robert Anderson, Terry Williams, John Hollowed and Billy Frank, Jr., with Rep. John McCoy as emcee. Please call (360) 438-1180 to reserve your place. Also, please remember to call in on Fridays at 3 p.m. ( 206-553-1454) for the weekly legislative overviews and “rap” sessions.

HALFWAY MARK

We have reached the halfway point of session and there are two significant deadlines that will impact the progress of legislation. Bills need to be out of fiscal committees today (Monday, March 5) or they’re likely dead for the session. The first deadline, February 28, was the deadline for bills to be out of their original policy committees. Any non-budget bill that is still in the policy committee at this point will likely not be considered for the remainder of the session. By March 14, bills have to be out of their original houses and April 13 is the last day to consider bills from opposite houses. The session is scheduled to adjourn on April 22.


PRIORITY BILLS LIST

With today being the fiscal committee deadline, updating of the Priority Bills List will be done Tuesday morning, to help make the list more up-to-date and meaningful. Some bills are already being dropped from the list due to lack of movement. Meanwhile, here are a few of the key bills still in play:

HB 1424 cisterns /rain barrels (two previous bills were combined; now a 3,000 gallon exemption is in the language). A number of, though not all tribes, have indicated that the substitute bill is okay. Some of the benefits of rain barrels include use of water on properties where it is captured, generally to be used in a manner that keeps it intact with the groundwater at that location, and it can help prevent some water quality damage from storm water runoff. However, overuse of rainwater can affect recharge and rain barrels/cisterns of this size actually comprise exempted storage.

SB 6117, the reclaimed water bill, sponsored by Senator Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, exempts reclaimed water from permitted use in an effort to encourage conservation, and proposed use of reclaimed water intended to augment potable water supplies must be considered in the development or regional water supply plans addressing potable water service by multiple purveyors. It is currently in Senate Ways and Means.

The “Phasing Out PBDE” bills (HB 1024/SB 5034) are still alive. In fact, the House bill has already passed the full house and is assigned to the Senate water committee. The bills would phase out the use of these harmful agents, if viable fire retardant alternatives are found. HB 1024 has passed the full house and has been assigned to the Senate Water Committee.

PUGET SOUND PARTNERSHIP

The Puget Sound Partnership Governance bills, HB 1374 and SB 5372, are both in their respective fiscal committees. HB 1374 was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on March 1 and SB 5372 is scheduled to be heard by Senate Ways & Means this afternoon. Efforts now are focused on getting final touches on the bills, working with the Governor’s Office to assure continuity and choose between the versions of the bill still alive in the legislature.

Here are some of the recommendations still being forwarded by partners: 1) That the Governor express strong support for a bottom up process in the development of the plan and be guided by the principles the partnership embraced in recommendations to the Governor (as contained in the PSP Report, e.g., inclusiveness, collaboration, decisiveness, transparency, bottom up decision making, etc.); 2) That accountability functions simply be realistic, both in terms of timing and cost of the implementation of the accountability system itself. (Too much detail could lead to a lot of paperwork and contentiousness that should be avoided.) 3) Be sure the cost of all of the requirements in both bills, as well as the FTE needs, be fully understood; 4) Recommend that the legislation make it explicit that all action, whether required by the legislation or not, be aimed at advancement of the priorities for restoration and maintenance of Puget Sound’s health; and 5) There should be explicit authority to create a non-for-profit if that appears to make sense in the judgment of the Leadership Council. Other comments and specific language change proposals have been forwarded to tribes.

Budget

Efforts are being made to increase funding for Puget Sound Recovery as recommended by the Puget Sound Partnership. Specifically, $6 million is being sought through the Operating Budget (HB 1127) for participation by tribes and watersheds and $100 million in the Capital Budget (HB 1092, the State Building Construction Account) for Salmon Recovery programs. These increases are critical for the Partnership effort to be assured of success, and for cooperative management to work well. Individual tribal support for this effort is encouraged.

MAKING CONTACT WITH LEGISLATORS AT THE HALF WAY POINT

Following are some recommended ways to make contact with your legislators at this time in order to encourage support or opposition for particular legislation. It is always good to make as personal contact as possible. Most legislators are extremely busy right now, so you might have to try to pull them off “the floor” during sessions. Notes can be sent in during caucuses and floor sessions and typically the particular legislator will come out to spend a few minutes with you (be sure to have specific, timely information available). It is always encouraged to coordinate with legislators’ staff members, and it is sometimes effective to reach them by email (the email formula is simple: Last name.First name @ leg.wa.gov). Brief and to-the-point letters or testimony statements are fine, but remember that there is typically very little time to waste. As always, legislators will tend to listen most carefully to their own constituents. For more tips, please call Steve Robinson at (360) 528-4347 or email srobinson@nwifc.org, or consult www.leg.wa.gov.

LEGISLATIVE HOT SHEET

Note: March 5 is the last day for fiscal committees to hears bills in the House of origin, and March 14 is the last day for Houses of origin to consider their own bills. Thus, most formal action will be taking place on House Floors between now and then, and committee hearings will be rare.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7

Agriculture & Natural Resources 8:00 am House Hearing Rm B O’Brien Building

Work Session: Developing flow management tools for watershed planning.
Work Session 2: Executive Order 07-02: Washington Climate Change Challenge.

THURSDAY, MARCH 8

Commerce & Labor 8:00 am Jt. w/ Senate Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Senate Hearing Room 4 Cherberg Building

Work Session: Tribal-State Compacts Appendix X2 – Rules Governing Tribal Lottery Systems.