Legisletter – March 4, 2019

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Week 7
Today is day 50 of the 105-day legislative session.
Last Friday was the fiscal committee cutoff – the second significant milestone reached this session.
Bills with a fiscal impact had to move out of a fiscal committee by last Friday or are in most cases considered dead for this session.We now go into two weeks of floor action as both the Senate and House move bills to the opposite house.
Farm Bureau members made their voices heard at the Capital last week!
This week we have three important issues that each require your help to restore sanity and common sense to the legislative process.
We have three major issues we would like to highlight for you today:
1)     State Senator Rebecca Saldana’s personal attacks on Washington’s farmers – we need your help
2)     Bad gun control bills continue to move through the Legislature – we need your help
3)     H2A bill update and how your actions have made a difference
1)     State Senator Rebecca Saldana’s personal attacks on Washington farmers
Since session began in January, Sen. Saldana (D-Seattle) has launched a purposeful, relentless attack against the farmers of this state. Clearly the labor activists have direct access to her office and have had a hand in drafting the legislation that seeks to damage the state’s second largest industry.
Here are some examples:
SB 5693 – Farm slavery bill. Prime sponsored by Sen. Saldana, this bill directly accuses farmers of being involved in slavery and human trafficking. The words “outrageous” and “unprecedented” were used often by the ag lobbyists testifying against the bill. Farm Bureau testified against this harmful bill and continues to fight it.
SB 5489 – Environmental Justice. Under this bill prime sponsored by Sen Saldana, farms and businesses would come under attack by a task force created to develop strategies for state agencies to incorporate “environmental justice” principles into their responsibilities. This includes the use of the “precautionary principle” into permitting decisions. This would lead to greater number of permits being denied or overly conditioned and open the door for frivolous lawsuits by environmental lawyers.
Sen. Saldana’s Public Comments. During a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee last Friday, Sen. Saldana took another unprovoked shot at agriculture. She stated that the farmers who grow the food we all rely on receive a number of tax exemptions. But then she added that it is not clear to her there is any public benefit to these tax exemptions. (Food security and access to fresh, healthy locally grown food would be some of the obvious reasons). She ended her comments by declaring that agriculture doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes to cover its usage of the state’s roads and highways.
You can watch these comments on TVW by clicking here.
IT’S TIME TO RESPOND AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
Here’s what we would like you to do:
  • Email Sen. Saldana and ask her to stop her radical misinformed attacks on the state’s farmers. You can use the examples above as evidence of what we consider an outright attack.
  • Email Senate Majority Andy Billig and respectfully ask him to put a stop to Sen. Saldana’s attacks on the state’s farmers, both through her legislation and public comments.
Senator Andy Billig (D)
Majority Leader
(360) 786-7604
Senator Rebecca Saldaña
(360) 786-7688
2)     Bad gun-control bills continue to move through the Legislature
A number of gun control bills have moved to the Senate floor and could be voted on at any time. We are partnering with the NRA to oppose these bills. To learn more about these bad bills and how to contact your state senator, please click here.
3)     H-2A federal farmworker program fee bill
Last week, an impressive number of Farm Bureau members joined the Government Relations team on the hill in an effort to stop the H-2A fee bill from passing out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Thank you to everyone who came out to lend their support. Although the bill passed out of committee, some changes were made to reduce the cost to farmers. However, this bill still contains fee language and we’re asking that you continue to put pressure on the Legislature to kill this unnecessary bill! Please let your senator know you oppose this unnecessary fee bill.