Leg-Com News/Legislative Hotsheet

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Attached please find this week’s edition of LEG-COM NEWS, which includes a PRIORITY BILLS LIST and other information pertinent to tribal natural resource/environmental management in the Washington State Legislature. Also attached is the Legislative HOTSHEET for the week of January 15. All comments welcome.

This week, NWIFC provided testimony on both HB 1024 and SB 5034, bills which make Washington the first state in the country to move toward a ban on Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) fire retardants. Found in mattresses, computers and furniture, as well as in fish, mother’s breast milk and throughout the environment with skyrocketing frequency, the new House Environment Committee quickly passed the bill. In the process of doing so, committee member Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, accused the industry that makes the stuff of putting up a smokescreen to stop the ban. “This bill is on fire,” said Sen. Erik Poulsen, D-West Seattle, chairman of the Senate Water, Energy and Environment Committee, which is also likely to pass the bill in quick order. The measure’s quick progress this year comes after two years of debate and opposition by chemical companies that spent more than $107,000 lobbying the Legislature last year.

By highlighting the fire-safety issues and downplaying the health risks, the chemical industry had successfully jammed the bill, even as those backing it — including some fire officials — insist safer alternatives could be used. The bill would ban three forms of PBDEs, commonly referred to as penta and octa, both of which already have been phased out, and deca, which is still in wide use. However, many companies already make PBDE-free products in order to comply with European trade laws. Levels of PBDEs in house dust are about 10 times higher in the U.S. than in Europe, and most of the PBDE in house dust is Deca. PBDEs have been found in a variety of foods and in breast milk. Studies show that children are more exposed to PBDEs than adults because of their contact with house dust and their intake from breast milk. And consumers have no way of knowing what products in their homes contain PBDEs.

The week of January 15 will be a busy one for the partnership. As indicated on the attached Hotsheet,, the week will commence with a work session by the House Select Committee on Puget Sound, 10 a.m. in House Hearing Room E. This session, entitled “Governance: What Structures Do We Have Now,” is essentially a backgrounder for the committee members, several of whom are new, about the role of the various governments, including tribes, in natural resource management and in the development of the Puget Sound Partnership plan. Terry Wright of the NWIFC staff has been dubbed by tribes to handle this task.

Then on Wednesday, Jan. 17, panel presentations by the co-chairs of the PSP (Jay Manning, Bill Ruckelshaus and Terry Williams standing in for Billy Frank) will provide briefings on the partnership report and the governance bill, which is expected to be available for review Monday. They will testify in front of a joint session of the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee at 10 a.m. (SHR 4), the House Select Committee on Puget Sound at 1:30 p.m. (HHR D), then back to the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee at 3:30 (SHR 4). Copies of the governance bill will be distributed to tribes as soon as they are available.

The Ocean Policy Work Group will report on “Washington’s Ocean Action Plan: Enhancing Management of Washington State’s Ocean and Outer Coasts to the Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee, chaired by Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15 (SHR 2)….yes, the Legislature works on holidays, as well as many nights and week ends during session. Steve Robinson will testify at this hearing at the request of the ocean tribes, and will essentially express the ongoing need for state/tribal cooperation and emphasize the need for government-to-government relations through the Intergovernmental Policy Council proposed by the ocean tribes.

In addition to other sessions and hearings briefly described in the Hotsheet, the various committees of the Washington State Legislature will address subjects ranging from the effect of the environment on the health of children and budget reports from natural resource agencies to an update report from the state’s Biodiversity Council and the economic impacts of climate change on the state. Another session worthy of particular note is “An Introduction To Indian Law” being presented to the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee (8 a.m. Friday, HHR D) by University of Washington Law Professor Robert Anderson.

Four state legislators, the largest number ever, now claim American Indian or Alaska Native heritage. The increase parallels national growth, with 64 Native people serving in legislatures in 14 states, up from 50 people last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oklahoma has by far the most, with 18. Alaska and Montana are next with nine each, then New Mexico with six, and Washington with four. It’s the most ever in the history of the U.S., a result of a renaissance of political activism in Indian Country. Newly elected lawmakers include Don Barlow, an enrolled member of the Ottawa Nation of Oklahoma and Democratic representative from Spokane, and Claudia Kauffman, an enrolled member of the Nez Perce tribe and Democrat from Kent just elected to the Senate. The state’s other two Indian lawmakers are Reps. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, who claims Tsimshian heritage. McCoy was first elected in 2002 and Morris in 1996.

Governor Christine Gregoire’s 2007-2009 budget proposal. It includes $70 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) a state grant program that protects habitat and creates new local and state parks. WWRP has been funded at around $50 million a year since the program was created in 1990. Over the past 16 years the WWRP has funded nearly 800 projects throughout Washington State. The $70 million does fall short of the $100 million WWRP advocates, and some opportunities for important community park development, habitat acquisition and farmland preservation may be lost as a result. WWRP includes a broad range of organizations representing diverse interests from across the state, ranging from Priorities for a Healthy Washington and the Washington Realtors to the Washington State Association of Counties and the State Fish and Wildlife Commission. NWIFC staff monitors the entity. Please consult www.wildliferecreation.org for more information.

Former Secretary of State and current Chairman of Citizens Committee for Shared Strategy Ralph Munro invites you to attend a discussion and update on salmon recovery efforts, Puget Sound cleanup and other related subjects Thursday morning, January 18, anytime between 7:15 am and 8 30 a.m. in the Secretary of State’s Office (2nd floor of the Capitol Building). Bill Ruckelshaus will speak, and a light breakfast will be served.