Environmental Activists Score Huge Success in Washington Legislature

I just received an e-mail from Amy Zarrett of the Priorities for a Healthy Washington Campaign and wanted to share with you their legislative report on the just completed Washington State Legislative Session. They have done a fantastic and successful job pushing their selected bills and deserve recognition and thanks from us.

For the fourth year in a row the state’s conservation community selected four proactive proposals to bring to the legislature with the hope of improving the lives of people and protecting our quality of life. We wrapped up the session with a stunning .750 batting average with three out of the four bills passing. Additionally, the effort to halt any attacks on community protection and land use laws was a complete success.

The issues with their end-of-session status are listed below. To see how each Representative and Senator voted, click on the link at the end of any issue update. Also you can read the news of session as reported in the state capitol’s daily paper on March 9th.

Launch Electronic Waste Recycling
SSB 6428 passed the Senate on a strong bi-partisan vote of 38-11 on Monday, March 6th. The House had recently approved the same bill with a vote of 69-29. This bill will provide safe, free, and convenient recycling for the millions of outdated computers, monitors and TVs piling up in our homes, schools, and offices. Each year, these obsolete electronics turn into millions of pounds of “e-waste” which contains lead, mercury and other substances too toxic to be thrown in the trash. The legislation will create hundreds of jobs and establish the most extensive manufacturer responsibility requirements in the nation.

Clean Up Puget Sound
The bill to get failing septic systems cleaned up (HB1458) passed the House on Saturday February 11th with strong bi-partisan support in the House, 70-25. The Senate passed the bill 28-15 on February 28th. The bill is part of the Governor’s legislative package to implement early actions under her Puget Sound Initiative. The bill is directed at failing systems dumping sewage into Hood Canal and parts of Puget Sound and provides funding and flexibility for local governments to design programs to require repair of failing systems. A grant and loan program is authorized to assist low-income homeowners. The legislature passed the Governor’s Puget Sound Budget for 2006 of $56 million to accelerate toxic cleanups and prevent new pollution.

Energy Independence through Renewable Fuels
The Renewable Fuels Standard bill (SB6508) passed the House earlier in session with a strong, bipartisan vote, and the Senate on a somewhat closer 29-19 vote (with 1 absent) on March 6th. This proposal would reduce Washington’s dependence on fossil fuels and provide a new market for Washington crops. This legislation will grow a new biofuels economy by including a minimum percentage of biofuels in the statewide fuel mix. The standards start at 2%, and ramps up to 5% for biodiesel and 10% for ethanol. This bill will attract biofuels jobs, provide farm income, and reduce the state’s vulnerability to volatile oil markets.

Protect Kids’ Health by Eliminating Toxic Flame Retardants
Despite strong bipartisan support, the legislature failed for the second consecutive year to pass important legislation to phase out the use of toxic flame retardants (HB 1488) called PBDEs that are rapidly building up in breast milk, our bodies, and in wildlife. Out-of-state chemical industry interests lobbied aggressively against the bill, spreading misinformation about its impacts. PBDEs are chemical cousins of long-banned PCBs, and are known to impair learning, behavior, and development in lab animals. The bill was supported by the Washington State Nurses Association, the Washington chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many more public health, faith, and environmental organizations.

Defending our Communities
All the efforts to roll back land use protections were halted by an effective campaign to maintain community safeguards. In addition, several successful bills will help resolve long-standing conflicts on Growth Management issues. We all value the place where we live. The security and protection of our homes, our communities, and even our drinking water depend on having balanced laws that allow growth while protecting farmland, shorelines, and our quality of life. That is why these attacks were stymied and why positive reforms passed to help give communities more flexibility as they responsibly implement land use improvements

Comments are closed.