We have seen more than 1,200 bills introduced this year and are tracking some 20 percent of them due to their real or potential impacts to agriculture. While this has seemed overwhelming at times, the bright side of our legislative process is that it is designed to kill bills. Two of the major legislative deadlines that are designed to kill bills have occurred in the last week. Last Friday was the policy bill cutoff and Tuesday of this week was the fiscal cutoff. This means that if a bill fails to move out of committee by those deadlines, they are likely dead for this session.
At this point time is on our side. There are only 27 days left in the regular session which doesn’t leave enough time to pass out all of the bad bills. But unfortunately, a number of them will still pass this year.
Many of you have been following our high priority bills. Here is an update on many that we have shared with you thus far.
Here are some of the bad bills we have been tracking:
SB 5981 implements a greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program. There is currently no on-farm fuels tax exemption for farmers. It is not likely that this bill will pass this year, but there is a very good chance that it will come again next year. This would be a 16 to 18 cent per gallon increase on your fuel.
HB 1110 creates a low carbon fuel standard that would increase per gallon fuel prices in the state by as much as 57 cents. Clearly this would impact fuel and production costs of farmers. This bill passed the House last week, but we have heard that it is likely dead in the Senate. While the legislature may not have acted on this, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency may step in to continue their regional proposal.
SB 6628 gives the Department of Ecology the authority to pass carbon policy via rulemaking. This gives unelected bureaucracy the power to make significant policy changes rather than going through the Legislature.
HB 2824 was referred to as the “Circus Bill.” Fortunately, this bill was dead on arrival. The initial intention was for circus acts, but the unintended consequences was the impact to rodeo, fairs and livestock shows. This bill never got a hearing and died in committee.
HB 2317/SB 6300 are companion animal cruelty bills that were sold as legislation to protect cats and dogs, but the bill’s broad language opens the door to animal rights organizations to harass livestock producers. After our recent action alert, we have high hopes that the problem language in the bill will be removed.
SB 6514 bans the use of pesticides that contain Chlorpyrifos. There are some crop exemptions for this bill, but it will directly impact the tree fruit industry. The greatest concern about this bill is that the politics is now taking the place of the existing science-based process used by WA State Department of Agriculture and EPA to remove pesticides when their research and investigations deem it necessary.
HB 2550 is the Net Ecological Gain bill, a bill that was a recommendation from the Orca Task Force. This bill failed to pass out of the House Appropriations Committee so is now considered dead for this year. It will likely be back for consideration next session, especially since it was a priority of many environmental groups.
HB 2415 would require special purpose districts to go through general elections. This would have severely impacted the funding that special purpose districts have to fund projects. The bill died in committee.
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 Committee 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 arrives in the House Labor Committee.
Here are some of the bills we are pleased to see this session:
HB 2498 requires the Department of Natural Resources, for the first time, to compensate a lessee when the department triggers an early termination of the lease. This would allow the lessee to receive compensation for lost revenue and improvements made to the land leased for agricultural or grazing purposes.
SB 6306 creates a Washington Soil Health initiative. This bill intends to provide research, education and technical assistance to implement a soil health stewardship program. This bill also has a budget request of $1.7 million annually to get the program up and running.
SB 6382 creates a state meat inspection program allowing more access for small to mid-scale farmers to sell their products to consumers. Currently, the goal for this bill would be to work with the department to get the cost of the inspection program down.
SB 6545 opens up the Voluntary Stewardship Program for additional counties to opt in until 2021. VSP is a non-regulatory alternative within the state Growth Management Act that Farm Bureau has championed for many years. This would be a great win for agriculture in the counties that decide to opt in.
SB 5947 has been referred to as the carbon farming bill. This bill concerned us when it was first introduced last session. After working with bill supporters over the summer, we were able to rewrite the language and can now support it. This bill provides grant funding to farmers to continue the good work they are already doing, including sequestering carbon, and to implement new practices that make sense on their farm. This program will need its own funding source to make it successful.
WFB Bill Tracking Bill Status Report
|Bill #||Abbrev. Title||Short Description||Status||Sponsor|
|2SHB 1733 (SSB 5543)||Productive farmland||Retaining productive farmland.||H Rules R||Gregerson|
|HB 1983||Natural resource management||Concerning natural resource management activities.||S Ag/Wtr/NR||Maycumber|
|HB 2368||Riparian easement funding||Requiring the legislature to fund all easements recommended by the department of natural resources for the forest riparian easement program.||H Cap Budget||Hoff|
|SHB 2498||DNR lease termination||Providing compensation to department of natural resources lessees whose leases are terminated for reasons other than default.||H 2nd Reading||Corry|
|HB 2503||Fish passage barrier removal||Addressing the removal of fish passage barriers.||H Trans||Barkis|
|SHB 2541||Rural development||Creating the Washington rural development act.||H Finance||Maycumber|
|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|
|SHB 2696 (SSB 6329)||Meat and poultry misbranding||Concerning the misbranding of meat and poultry products.||H 2nd Reading||Dent|
|SHB 2712||Beef country of origin||Requiring retailers to indicate the country of origin on beef sold to the public.||H 2nd Reading||Kretz|
|SHB 2714 (SB 6498)||Riparian easement carbon val||Valuing the carbon in forest riparian easements.||H Rules R||Hoff|
|HB 2819 (SSB 6578)||Pumped storage projects||Designating pumped storage projects located in a county bordering the Columbia river utilizing statutorily authorized water rights to be projects of statewide significance.||H Rules R||Mosbrucker|
|SHB 2906||Gray wolf radio collars||Concerning the use of radio collars on gray wolves by the department of fish and wildlife.||H Rules R||Kretz|
|SSB 6012||Renewable energy incentives||Promoting renewable energy through modifying tax incentives.||S 2nd Reading||Hawkins|
|SSB 6216||Paid leave/application||Concerning the application of the family and medical leave program in Title 50A RCW to specific classes of individuals.||S 2nd Reading||Keiser|
|SSB 6306||Soil health initiative||Creating the Washington soil health initiative.||S 2nd RdConsCal||Liias|
|SB 6316||Law enf./num. of citations||Prohibiting the consideration of the number of citations for traffic infractions issued by a law enforcement officer in the performance review of the officer.||S 2nd Reading||Holy|
|SSB 6329 (SHB 2696)||Meat and poultry misbranding||Concerning the misbranding of meat and poultry products.||S Rules 2||Warnick|
|SB 6350 (HB 2659)||Vehicle taxes & fees||Limiting state and local taxes, fees, and other charges relating to vehicles.||S Transportation||Fortunato|
|SB 6363 (HB 2592)||All-terrain vehicles||Concerning tracked and wheeled all-terrain vehicles.||S Passed 3rd||Takko|
|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|
|2SSB 6382||Meat and poultry processing||Concerning state-inspected commercial custom meat facilities.||S 2nd Reading||Ericksen|
|ESB 6421||Farm internship program||Extending the farm internship program.||S Passed 3rd||Muzzall|
|SSB 6545||Voluntary stewardship prog.||Concerning the voluntary stewardship program.||S Rules 2||Zeiger|
|SSB 6578 (HB 2819)||Pumped storage projects||Designating pumped storage projects located in a county bordering the Columbia river utilizing statutorily authorized water rights to be projects of statewide significance.||S 2nd Reading||Honeyford|
|SJM 8015||Pinniped predation/salmon||Concerning pinniped predation of salmon and other fish.||S Ag/Wtr/NR||Schoesler|
|Bill #||Abbrev. Title||Short Description||Status||Sponsor|
|E2SHB 1110 (SB 5412)||Greenhouse gas/transp. fuels||Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation fuels.||S Environment, En||Fitzgibbon|
|2SHB 2311 (SB 6272)||Greenhouse gas emissions||Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science.||H Rules R||Slatter|
|2SSB 5489||Environ. health disparities||Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities.||S Rules 3||Salda?a|
|2SSB 5947 (HB 2095)||Sustainable farms and fields||Establishing the sustainable farms and fields grant program.||H RDev, Ag&NR||McCoy|
|SSB 5972||Additive trans funding||Concerning additive transportation funding and appropriations.||S Transportation||Hobbs|
|SSB 6147||Shoreline armoring||Concerning the replacement of shoreline armoring.||S 2nd Reading||Salomon|
|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 2nd Reading||McCoy|
|SSB 6440 (HB 2689)||Workers’ comp medical exam||Concerning industrial insurance medical examinations.||S 2nd Reading||Stanford|
|SSB 6488||Aerial herbicides/forestland||Concerning aerial herbicides in forestlands.||S 2nd Reading||Rolfes|
|2SSB 6518||Pesticide, chlorpyrifos||Reducing prenatal exposure and harm to children by limiting environmental exposure to certain pesticides.||S 2nd Reading||Rolfes|
|SSB 6628||Greenhouse gas/fossil fuels||Concerning emissions of greenhouse gases.||S 2nd Reading||Carlyle|