Legisletter – February 1, 2019

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Week 3
Today is the 19th day of the 105-day 2019 legislative session.
It feels more like day 79 given the fast pace and the onslaught of new bills. As of today, 1,712 bills have been introduced.
H-2A farm worker program fees
Last week the big story for us was the hearing on HB 1398 that would have created new fees for farmers using the federal H-2A program. Thanks to the compelling testimony of three Farm Bureau members, and great staff work by Bre Elsey, the bill is on hold.
If you would like to listen to the testimony provided by Rosella Mosby, Richard Callahan and Megan Dickey, click here.
As we said last week, the work on the H-2A bill is is a great example of the strength of Farm Bureau. Working together we can truly make a difference! But, we aren’t finished…
On February 7 at 8:00 a.m. in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, there will be a hearing on the Senate version of the H-2A fee bill, SB 5438. Please contact your local legislators, along with Sen. Keiser and Sen. McCoy and ask them to not move this bill! You can find their contact information here.
HPA/building permits for projects in and around the water
This week there was a big hearing on another environmental bill that could negatively affect farmers. HB 1579 is titled “An act related to implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance.” However, the bulk of the bill is a retread from two years ago that would greatly expand the regulatory authority of the WA Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Specifically, the bill would give the department more authority over people who apply for HPAs or building permits for projects in and around the water. If the bill passes, the department would have the authority to impose stop work orders, issue civil penalties for each violation found at a project site of up to $10,000 each and obtain warrants to come onto your land anytime they think a violation may be occurring.
But remember the bill is being sold as a way to increase chinook abundance to help the state’s orca population to recover, which is something we do support. Yet this bill greatly increases WDFW’s regulatory authority statewide – not just in Puget Sound and along the coast where the orcas feed when they are in Washington waters.
Here is how the Capital Press covered the hearing:
OLYMPIA — Distress over orcas has invigorated a push to give the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife more power to penalize landowners and immediately stop projects that might affect salmon.
The Inslee administration, environmental groups and tribes say the department has too little authority to prevent rock-lined shores, especially in Puget Sound, from damaging fish habitat and starving orcas. As it has been in the past, the Washington Farm Bureau is leery about where this is heading.
The department already has broad authority to regulate projects on dry land, Farm Bureau director of government relations Tom Davis said.
“We support orca recovery,” he told the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. “But when it comes to regulatory expansion, we would just ask for caution.
Davis said the Farm Bureau wasn’t an “absolute no” on the bill. He said the Farm Bureau might support the bill if it specified which projects Fish and Wildlife has control over. Right now, he said, its jurisdiction is virtually unlimited.
“It goes from the top of Mount Rainier all the way down to the stream bed,” he said. “The changes in this bill do not just apply to the Puget Sound and our concern about orcas. They apply statewide, so people who live all across the state have an interest in what the impact of increased regulation will do to them.”
Rural Broadband
Lastly, some good news to report. House Bill 1498 regarding rural broadband had its first public hearing on January 30. Rural broadband funding is a top priority for Farm Bureau this year and we testified in support of this legislation. This bill establishes a grant and loan program for public, private and non-profit entities for the purpose of installing middle mile and last mile broadband infrastructure to rural and unserved populations.
This investment is critical in linking our rural farm and ranch families with the technology they need in a modern and highly-connected business world. This bill was requested by Governor Inslee and has broad bipartisan support. Farm Bureau is pleased to see House Bill 1498 moving forward and grateful at the opportunity to be an involved stakeholder in this effort.
Next Week’s Hearing Schedule
Public Safety (House) – HHR D, JLOB – 2/4 @ 1:30pm
·      HB 1025 – Public Hearing – Concerning the slaughter of horses and other equines for human consumption. (Oppose/Medium)
Labor & Commerce (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 2/5 @ 8:00am
·      SB 5550 – Exec Session – Implementing the recommendations of the pesticide application safety work group. (Neutral/Monitoring)
Environment, Energy & Technology (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 2/5 @ 10:00am
·      SB 5511 – Public Hearing – Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities. (Support/High)
Innovation, Technology & Economic Development (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 2/5 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1498 – Exec Session – Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities. (Support/High)
Local Government (House) – HHR D, JLOB – 2/5 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1583 – Public Hearing – Concerning mosquito control districts. (Neutral/Monitoring)
Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 2/5 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1579 – Exec Session – Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance. (Oppose/High)
Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks (Senate) – SHR 3, JACB – 2/5 @ 1:30pm
·      SB 5580 – Public Hearing – Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing habitat and forage fish abundance. (Oppose/High)
·      SB 5451 – Public Hearing – Concerning the definition of hydraulic project in relation to the hydraulic project approval permits. (Support/High)
·      SB 5404 – Public Hearing – Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects. (Support/Monitoring)
·      SB 5567 – Public Hearing – Revising hydraulic project eligibility standards under RCW 77.55.181 for conservation district-sponsored fish habitat enhancement projects. (Support/Medium)
Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation (Senate) – SHR 4, JACB – 2/5 @ 1:30pm
·      SB 5583 – Public Hearing – Increasing access to fruits and vegetables for individuals with limited incomes. (Support/Medium)
Labor & Workplace Standards (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 2/5 @ 3:30pm
·      HB 1491 – Public Hearing – Concerning employer and employee scheduling. (Concerns/Medium)
·      HB 1728 – Public Hearing – Preventing the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers. (Concerns/Low)
Environment, Energy & Technology (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 2/6 @ 8:00am
·      SB 5347 – Public Hearing – Concerning claims about climate change made by electric utilities. (Neutral/Monitoring)
Housing, Community Development & Veterans (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 2/6 @ 8:00am
·      HB 1736 – Public Hearing – Concerning tax relief for veterans and service members with disabilities to purchase adaptive agricultural equipment. (Support/Medium)
Innovation, Technology & Economic Development (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 2/6 @ 8:00am
·      HB 1498 – Exec Session – Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities. (Support/High)
Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 2/6 @ 8:00am
·      HB 1443 – Public Hearing – Extending the tax preferences in RCW 82.04.260(12). (Support/Medium)
·      HB 1662 – Public Hearing – Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes. (Support/Medium)
·      HB 1324 – Exec Session – Creating the Washington rural development and opportunity zone act. (Support/Medium)
·      HB 1334 – Exec Session – Concerning electric utility wildland fire prevention. (Neutral/Monitoring)
Transportation (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 2/6 @ 3:30pm
·      SB 5130 – Public Hearing – Increasing transportation revenues to help fund state fish barrier removal. (Oppose/High)
·      SB 5694 – Public Hearing – Concerning commercial beekeeper drivers. (Support/Medium)
Labor & Commerce (Senate) – SHR 1, JACB – 2/7 @ 8:00am
·      SB 5438 – Public Hearing – Concerning the H-2A temporary agricultural program. (Oppose/High)
Labor & Workplace Standards (House) – HHR E, JLOB – 2/7 @ 8:00am
·      HB 1491 – Exec Session – Concerning employer and employee scheduling. (Concerns/Medium)
Local Government (Senate) – SHR 3, JACB – 2/7 @ 8:00am
·      SB 5519 – Public Hearing – Concerning mosquito control districts. (Neutral/Monitoring)
·      SB 5585 – Public Hearing – Concerning cooperation between conservation districts. (Support/Medium)
Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks (Senate) – SHR 3, JACB – 2/7 @ 1:30pm
·      SB 5330 – Exec Session – Analyzing state regulatory impact on small forest landowners. (Support/Medium)
·      SB 5451 – Exec Session – Concerning the definition of hydraulic project in relation to the hydraulic project approval permits. (Support/High)
·      SB 5404 – Exec Session – Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects. (Support/Monitoring)
·      SB 5567 – Exec Session – Revising hydraulic project eligibility standards under RCW 77.55.181 for conservation district-sponsored fish habitat enhancement projects. (Support/Medium)
·      SB 5597 – Public Hearing – Creating a work group on aerial pesticide applications in forestlands. (Oppose/Medium)
·      SB 5547 – Public Hearing – Concerning the proposed department of natural resources’ marbled murrelet long-term conservation strategy. (Neutral/Monitoring)
·      SB 5696 – Public Hearing – Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes. (Support/Medium)
·      SB 5701 – Public Hearing – Authorizing the reconveyance of state forestlands to counties for the purpose of creating county-owned community forests. (Support/Medium)
Civil Rights & Judiciary (House) – HHR A, JLOB – 2/8 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1288 – Exec Session – Concerning department of natural resources’ land acquisitions. (Support/Medium)
Innovation, Technology & Economic Development (House) – HHR C, JLOB – 2/8 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1498 – Exec Session – Expanding affordable, resilient broadband service to enable economic development, public safety, health care, and education in Washington’s communities. (Support/High)
Local Government (House) – HHR D, JLOB – 2/8 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1426 – Public Hearing – Concerning cooperation between conservation districts. (Support/Medium)
Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources (House) – HHR B, JLOB – 2/8 @ 10:00am
·      HB 1516 – Public Hearing – Establishing a department of fish and wildlife directed nonlethal program for the purpose of training dogs. (Support/High)
·      HB 1622 – Public Hearing – Concerning drought preparedness and response. (Concerns/High)
·      HB 1429 – Exec Session – Extending the dairy milk assessment fee to June 30, 2025. (Support/Medium)