Legislative Update - Jan 12

January 12, 2018

This was the first week of the 2018 Legislative Session, and we were hard at work reviewing and testifying on a number of bills.  Here is a brief summary of some of the highlights:

SB 6091 We opposed this bill – Ensuring that water is available to support development. 

We will be testifying against this legislation with two primary concerns: this bill proposes to only address a portion of the state (15 water resource inventory areas); and appropriations for mitigation ($300M) are not guaranteed to be used to address the ground and surface water impacts.  Expect an action alert on this bill next week.

Net Pen Legislation (No bill no. as it is still in draft) We support this bill – Protecting the state’s marine waters from the release of nonnative finfish from marine finfish aquaculture sites.   

This legislation prevents the department of natural resources from entering into or extending current leases of nonnative finfish net pens in Washington.  There are two other bills on this issue that we are not supporting: HB2260 (which terminates current net pen leases), and HB2418 (which provides a study that will potentially lead to further regulation).  

HB 2480 We support this bill – Providing local governments with options to preserve affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods.

This legislation allows for a property tax exemption for an accessory dwelling unit or detached accessory dwelling unit if renting below 80% AMI. The property tax exemption will only be applied for the property that the unit is used for affordable housing.

HB 2337 We support this bill - Concerning civil enforcement of construction projects in state waters

This will amend the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) statutes to authorize the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to more effectively use civil penalties to enforce the HPA requirements. The most important improvement in HB 2337 is giving Fish and Wildlife the authority to issue stop work orders, which they currently do not have. Therefore, if Fish and Wildlife discovers a violation and the violator does not stop the work when they are informed they are violating the HPA requirements, they then have to seek assistance from a county or city who can issue a stop work order under their own authority or get a restraining order or an injunction. Giving Fish and Wildlife the authority to issue a stop work order would substantially improve the enforcement of the HPA program which is presently not well enforced. Another improvement is increasing the maximum civil penalty from $100 a day to $10,000 a day for in water violations. Violations above the ordinary high water mark will remain at a maximum of $100 a day penalty.

We will be working closely with our partners on this legislation and support in anyway that is necessary to move forward. We participated in numerous stakeholder discussions a couple of years ago but there was no path forward.  

Watch this space for updates next week.