Legisletter – Week 4 – February 7, 2020

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Today is February 7th, the 26th day of this grueling legislative session. Today is also officially “policy cut-off” day for the thousands of bills that have been introduced. This means that today is the last day policy bills can be passed out of committee in order to be considered during the remainder of the session. Any policy bill that has not been passed by a committee by the end of today is technically considered dead. While this is great news, knowing we will no longer be surprised by new bills that attack agriculture, we still have our hands full with those bills that will continue on.
Here is an update on many of the bills we have been monitoring:
  • SB 5981 would implement a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. This bill would increase gas prices, increase farm inputs and add costs to the buying and selling of our ag products. The bill had a hearing this week and Farm Bureau members testified against this bill and about the impacts it would have on their farm operations. The bill did not pass out of committee.
  • HB 2550 would greatly increase the authority of the state’s environmental and land use laws by mandating they operate under a “net ecological gain” standard.  Prior to passing the bill out of committee this week, the House Environment Committee improved the bill by replacing the bad language in the bill with direction to study what the impacts would be if the original bill’s language was actually implemented. This is a vast improvement over the original bill. We still oppose the bill, but at least it is not as bad.
  • SB 6518 could ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on most crops in Washington. While there are some exemptions to this ban, this bill would greatly impact the tree fruit industry that currently has no workable alternative to chlorpyrifos. This bill passed out of the Senate agriculture committee on Thursday.  Farm Bureau members provided excellent testimony against this bill.
  • HB 2415 proposes moving special districts under the state’s regular election law to the November general election ballot. This heavy-handed legislation will bankrupt many small districts if they are required to pay their share of the election costs. That is clearly not a good outcome. The Seattle Times said it best, when it editorialized that this bill “could cause more harm than good.” We continue to oppose HB 2415.
  • SB 6324 concerns the financial reporting of special election districts. This bill would give a county the right to dissolve any special purpose district if the district has not properly filed a financial report in two or more years. We support the approach used in this bill to address the real problem that a very small number of special purpose districts are facing without negatively impacted the other hundred or so districts.
  • HB 1110: A bill to create Low Carbon Fuel Standard passed the House (52-44) and is now in the Senate. This policy could result in fuel prices as high as 57 cents per gallon for gasoline and 63 cents per gallon for diesel. Although it is unlikely this bill will pass out of the Senate this year, expect there to be additional movement by the Puget Sound Clean Air Authority over the next few months to pass a regional LCFS standard that would impact Snohomish, Kitsap, King and Pierce counties. This bill will likely be up for consideration again in the 2021 session.
  • SB 6261 would mandate the rehiring of employees that have filed a complaint against an employer in any capacity. A substitute version of this bill passed out of Senate Labor on February 3. Although the anti-retaliation language was removed, this bill still contains several provisions that are dangerous to agriculture employers. We continue to oppose this bill. Keep an eye out for hearing information when this bill comes to House Labor.
  • HB 2427 adds climate change as a new goal to the Growth Management Act. The committee did make the bill less bad by applying it only to larger counties and dropped the requirements on counties to achieve fewer overall miles driven and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We still oppose this bad and unnecessary bill.
Here is an update on some good bills we are tracking:
  • HB 2906 directs WDFW to prioritize the use of radio collars on wolves and to strive to have collars on at least two wolves in each pack in the state. This bill passed the House agriculture committee today.
  • SB 6545 allows counties not currently in the Voluntary Stewardship Program to join until July 2021. This bill has been passed on to Ways and Means.
  • HB 1622 has passed the House and is now in the Senate. This bill allows the Dept. of Ecology to proactively respond to foreseeable drought conditions to reduce future or current hardship (instead of providing relief after the drought has occurred).
  • HB 2498 would require the Department of Natural Resources to compensate farmers and ranchers whose leases are terminated early by DNR for lost revenue due to the termination. This bill is now is Senate Ways & Means.
  • SB 6382 would create a state-based meat and poultry inspection program that would specifically address the struggle smaller livestock producers have in finding local USDA certified custom meat facilities. This bill is now in Senate Ways & Means.

Support

 

Bill # Abbrev. Title Short Description Status Sponsor Priority
HB 2498 DNR lease termination Providing compensation to department of natural resources lessees whose leases are terminated for reasons other than default. H Approps Corry High
HB 2559 (SB 6365) WDFW/payments in lieu of tax Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes by the department of fish and wildlife. H Approps Springer High
HB 2906 Gray wolf radio collars Concerning the use of radio collars on gray wolves by the department of fish and wildlife. H RDev, Ag&NR Kretz High
SSB 6306 Soil health initiative Creating the Washington soil health initiative. S Rules 2 Liias High
SSB 6329 (SHB 2696) Meat and poultry misbranding Concerning the misbranding of meat and poultry products. S Rules 2 Warnick High
SB 6365 (HB 2559) WDFW/payments in lieu of tax Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes by the department of fish and wildlife. S Rules 2 Warnick High

Oppose

 

Bill # Abbrev. Title Short Description Status Sponsor Priority
E2SHB 1110 (SB 5412) Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Environment, En Fitzgibbon High
HB 1172 (SB 5314) Capital gains tax/prop. tax Assisting Washington families by improving the fairness of the state’s tax system by enacting a capital gains tax and providing property tax relief. H Finance Santos High
HB 1703 Tax exemptions Increasing tax exemption transparency and accountability. H Finance Pollet High
HB 1841 (SB 5877) Crew size on certain trains Establishing minimum crew size on certain trains. S Labor & Commerc Riccelli High
SHB 2311 (SB 6272) Greenhouse gas emissions Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science. H Approps Slatter High
SHB 2415 Special district elections Conforming elections for certain special districts with Title 29A RCW. H Approps Hudgins High
HB 2549 Salmon recovery efforts/GMA Integrating salmon recovery efforts with growth management. H Env & Energy Lekanoff High
SHB 2550 Net ecological gain Establishing net ecological gain as a policy for application across identified land use, development, and environmental laws. H ENVIDPS Lekanoff High
HB 2609 (SB 6335) Climate change/GMA Addressing climate change through growth management. H Env & Energy Duerr High
HB 2689 (SSB 6440) Workers’ comp medical exam Concerning industrial insurance medical examinations. H Labor & Workpl Mead High
HB 2892 Greenhouse gas emissions Authorizing the department of ecology to regulate greenhouse gas emissions associated with persons who produce or distribute fossil fuel products that emit greenhouse gases in Washington. H Env & Energy Fitzgibbon High
SB 5129 (HB 1343) Revenue Increasing revenues for the support of state government. Gov’s Cap Gains S Ways & Means Rolfes High
SB 5130 (HB 1228) Fish barrier removal funding Increased REET and vehicle weight fees S Transportation Rolfes High
SB 5314 (HB 1172) Capital gains tax/prop. tax Assisting Washington families by improving the fairness of the state’s tax system by enacting a capital gains tax and providing property tax relief. S Ways & Means Wellman High
SB 5412 (E2SHB 1110) Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels. S Environment, E Salda?a High
2SSB 5489 Environ. health disparities Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities. S Rules 3 Salda?a High
SSB 5717 (SHB 1491) Employee scheduling Concerning employer and employee scheduling. S Labor & Commerc Salda?a High
SB 5973 (2SHB 2117) State tax structure Providing a pathway to modernize and rebalance the Washington state tax structure so that it is equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent for the people of Washington state. S Ways & Means Wellman High
SB 5981 Greenhouse gas cap and trade Implementing a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. S Environment, E Carlyle High
SB 6260 Water resources/tribes Concerning tribal traditional and cultural interests in water resources. S Ag/Water/Natur McCoy High
SSB 6261 Farm labor contractor system Strengthening the farm labor contractor system by removing an exemption for nonprofits, prohibiting retaliation and the use of farm labor contractors in certain circumstances, and establishing liability for related violations. S Rules 2 McCoy High
SB 6272 (SHB 2311) Greenhouse gas emissions Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science. S Environment, E Das High
SB 6335 (HB 2609) Climate change/GMA Addressing climate change through growth management. S Local Governme Salomon High
SSB 6440 (HB 2689) Workers’ comp medical exam Concerning industrial insurance medical examinations. S Rules 2 Stanford High
SB 6453 (SHB 2427) Climate change/GMA Tackling climate change as a goal of the growth management act. S Local Governme Salomon High
SB 6454 Salmon habitat planning Concerning local salmon habitat recovery planning in critical areas. S Local Governmen Salomon High
SSB 6518 Pesticide, chlorpyrifos Reducing prenatal exposure and harm to children by limiting environmental exposure to certain pesticides. S Ways & Means Rolfes High
SSB 6628 Greenhouse gas/fossil fuels Concerning emissions of greenhouse gases. S Rules 2 Carlyle High