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CONFERENCE CALLS, THE HOT SHEET AND LEG-COM NEWS/VETOES

The final weekly legislative conference call for tribes was held Friday, April 6. These calls, held weekly all through session (in concert with the Department of Ecology) were intended to provide a regular opportunity to be briefed on current natural resource/environmental issues in the legislature, and provide additional opportunity to discuss those issues. The calls were not very well attended, but those who did participate emphasized their usefulness. Your continued comments on this will be welcomed. Leg-Com News and the Priority Bills List will continue to be published weekly during session, and as needed during the interim, as will individual calls, emails, etc. The final Hot Sheets, intended to provide an overview of priority hearings in the legislature, will be published in Leg-Com News as needed. As session ends, a final regular edition of the newsletter will be published to evaluate the up’s and down’s of this year’s Legislature. Also, the annual “veto letter” will be written, intended to provide Governor Gregoire tribal perspectives on bills that make it to her desk. As a matter of course, she has 30 days from the time of receipt to either sign, veto or partially veto these bills. With partial vetoes, she has the authority to veto down to subsections in policy bills or to line items in the budget. Tribes are encouraged to continue providing input on any or all legislation, and to communicate with NWIFC as appropriate to maintain unity of message.


DEADLINES/POSSIBLE EARLY ADJOURNMENT?

The Legislative Calendar set this Friday, April 13, as the final day for the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider each other’s bills and Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day) as the final day of the 2007 Session. However, the “talk on the hill” in Olympia continues to indicate a strong possibility that this session will be wrapped up early, possibly as early as this week. It may be none too soon, either, as there are signs of frayed nerves on the part of some of the lawmakers, e.g., legislators were given this past week end off to try to cool down for the final stretch after a harsh shouting match erupted on the House floor between Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, and Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, the Majority Leader. Apologies have been made and accepted.

NEXT SESSION/THE INTERIM

Following Sine Die (adjournment) of the 2007 State Legislative Session, some legislative committees will meet, on occasion, during the interim, and they will again come to Olympia for a preparatory week in December, but the next regular session will not occur until January, 2008. However, the interim is not a time to forget about legislators. It is advisable for NWIFC and tribes to maintain and enhance communications with legislators—particularly those from your district—on a regular basis. This is the time when programs, funding and concepts for future legislation is truly developed. It’s a great time for education and backgrounding efforts and a time to improve relationships. It is also advisable, whenever possible, to pursue such objectives in a united way, so the overall tribal position can be strengthened.

SOME BILLS STILL ALIVE/SOME “KILLED”

HB 1727 —Growth Management Planning (Urban Villages)

It is important to remember that bills before the Legislature are never necessarily “dead.” Bills that fail to make deadlines can be resurrected (through exemptions, amendments, etc.) The Rural Villages legislation is an example. The previously “killed” bill that concerned numerous tribes earlier in session, which would move toward the establishment of satellite communities, has been engrossed into House Bill 1727, the “Growth Management Planning” bill, which is alive on the Senate floor. Simultaneously, the Realtors Association has been running television ads encouraging viewers to contact their legislators to support 1727 (and painting themselves as environmentally conscious). The Cascade Land Conservancy worked with Realtors in this process and, with realtors and developers, has been a primary promoter of the legislation. In fact, the number of Rural Village pilots was expanded from 200 to 350, in committee, in the process. Tribes participating in discussions on this issue earlier in session objected to the process used to develop the initial bill, which omitted them. There was concurrence with supporting a study in the interim, which would involve tribal participants and which would look at the broader issue of urban sprawl rather than focus exclusively on Rural Villages. Although the legislation being considered on the Senate floor goes well beyond that, CLC has indicated an interest in building an alliance with tribes over the long term.

SB5733 —HPA Permits and Prevention of Flood Damage

This bill, which tribes have consistently opposed, failed to make deadline and was left behind in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. It was intended to force the Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue hydraulic permits, at the direction of counties that determine there has been chronic damage (2 years) to property by flooding. Such permits were to be exempt from SEPA and the agency was to consider private property on an equal basis with fish. Several of these concerns were alleviated by amendments, but the emphasis on county authorities remained.

HB 2220 —Shellfish Aquaculture

This bill is an example of how complex the legislative process can be. Tribes determined to work with shellfish growers to get a reasonable alternative to an unfavorable bill early in session, and that alliance has held strong since. The bill is currently in Senate Rules and the unfavorable bill, which was largely intended to appease a handful of “nimbies”, was left behind. The bill made it through the House and is now in Senate Rules, with a lot of new appendages. As it now stands, the first preference (tribal and growers) is the House version of HB 2220, and the funding to implement it. The second preference is to “kill” the Senate version of HB 2220, but fund the activities found in the bill through the budget. The outcome to avoid is having the Senate version of HB 2220 enacted, with or without funding. Should the Senate pass its own version, it is hoped that the House not concur and instead ask the Senate to yield its amendments. If the Senate doesn’t yield, we have an impasse, and house-to-house negotiations would have to start again.

SB 5372—The Puget Sound Partnership

This bill is now in House Rules, and there is general concurrence on its content. Those who were hoping the new agency would have more “teeth” are now resting their hopes in the administration process. For now, the Governor has hired former DOE Director Linda Hoffman to assist in the recruitment for the Leadership Council and the executive Director for the new Partnership Agency. The Governor would like to appoint the Leadership Council chair and perhaps 1 or 2 other members, almost immediately after the Bill has passed. Those members would then provide input to Hoffman and the Governor about filling other positions. The Governor would like to have the Council appointments complete by May 31. Concurrently, the Governor’s office will conduct a broad solicitation for the Executive Director’s position. In June, the Leadership Council will provide input to Linda to narrow the list of candidates and provide recommendations to the Governor.

SB 5923—Aquatic Invasive Species (Ballast Water)

This bill is another example of one that some people thought was “dead” but which was brought back to life by coordinated efforts, spurred on by WDFW employee (former NWIFC employee) Allen Pleus. Throughout the session, tribes supported legislation to strengthen and fund efforts to fight the encroachment of invasive species and the dumping of untreated ballast water. The ballast water bill failed to make deadline, but was engrossed into the aquatic species bill. The engrossed bill has now been passed unanimously by the House and is on its way to the Senate for concurrence. The Aquatic Invasive Species committee has hoped to see some amendments to strip EIS requirements from the bill. But it’s alive.

OIL SPILL PREVENTION AND RESPONSE

A deal has been struck between the two houses and the Governor regarding oil spill funding. Even though the Oil Spill Advisory Committee and the Ocean Policy Work Group recommended that the state step up to provide its share of funding for a year around tug at Neah Bay, the heads of the two houses and the Governor determined not to take a (barrel) “tax vote” this year. The Governor, who has focused heavily on federal funding for this purpose. She’s convinced that Senator Cantwell’s S 2440, which would fund the construction of an enhanced tug, will fly and thus she was inclined to only provide piecemeal funding for the next few years. A part time tug will be funded for 2008 and a full time tug for 2009 through the supplemental budget. If the federal government has not taken action by that time, other funding sources will be discussed. The OSAC will be funded at the existing level for the biennium (+ $200,000 for studies), even though the Governor had leaned toward sunsetting it earlier this session. Shortfalls in funds for oil spill work at DOE may be a problem. There will be a JLARC review of that in the interim. Tribal testimony has emphasized the critical nature of the oil spill danger and pushed for state support of Cantwell’s bill.

HOT SHEET

Priority Hearings/Work Sessions of The State Legislature

For The Week of April 9, 2007

Notes: Most action this week will be on the House and Senate floors, caucuses, etc. In addition to the work sessions listed below, a number of committees will conduct interim planning work sessions. For more information, please contact Steve Robinson at (360) 528-4347 or srobinson@nwifc.org. or consult the Legislative Website at www.leg.wa.gov. This is the final regular weekly Hot Sheet for the 2007 Session.

Agriculture & Natural Resources
04/11/07 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O’Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

1. 25 x ’25 Agriculture and Forestry Renewable Energy Initiative.

2. Purse Seine Salmon Fisheries and the North of Falcon Process.

Select Committee on Environmental Health
04/10/07 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O’Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Environmental Health Issues: solid waste technologies, handling, and future vision.

Select Committee on Puget Sound
04/13/07 8:30 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O’Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Hood Canal: Environmental update.