Legislative Hot List

Week of February 1, 2016

Almost every week during the state legislative session, WEC helps develop and distribute the Environmental Community Hot List for the State House and Senate.

The Hot List contains up to 10 of the most important environmental bills being debated that week. We send the Hot List to legislators, staffers and members of the media. Because it has input from all the key environmental groups and is because it is quick and easy to read, the Hot List is a helpful and powerful tool for engaging legislators. If you would like to be included in the inside scoop on the happenings in the capitol, send an email to cathy@wecprotects.org.

 

Hot List for the State House

HB 2357: Concerning the authority of the pollution liability insurance agency.

Capital Budget Committee: Public Hearing and Possible Executive Session | POSITION: SUPPORT

  • Allows the pollution liability insurance agency to create a low-interest loan and grant program to help owners upgrade petroleum underground storage tanks, upgrade systems for new fuel blends, and add EV charging stations.

HB 2506: Concerning the development of a state plan to implement federal regulations on electric generation facilities.

Technology & Economic Development Committee: Possible Executive Sessions | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Bill is premature- Legislature should wait to take action after it has seen a draft plan, which won’t be ready for at least a year. Mandating one approach closes the door to thoughtful analysis and full public participation.
  • Limits the ways low income families can be assisted with energy bills.

HB 2613 and HB 2778: Fixing the sales tax exemption on clean alternative fuel vehicles

House Transportation Committee: Public Hearing and Possible Executive Action | POSITION: SUPPORT

  • The recently extended sales tax exemption for electric, hydrogen and other alternative fuel vehicles excludes many important mid-market models due to the $35,000 “hard” cap.  Expected transformational cars in 2017 with 200 miles of range (like the Chevy Bolt and next generation Nissan Leaf) will likely be just above this price point and excluded from Washington’s incentive.
  • Revenue for the exemption is backfilled from Transportation Fund, so there is no General Fund impact to this fix.
  • Incentives help drive down Washington’s carbon emissions in transportation and improve air quality.

HB 2715: Relating to providing sales and use tax exemptions, in the form of a remittance of tax paid, to encourage coal-fired electric generation plants to convert to natural gas-fired plants of biomass energy facilities.

Technology & Economic Development:  hearing and Possible Executive Session | POSITIONOPPOSE

  • TransAlta has already received tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks for existing operation of the coal plant.
  • Any state support should go support the conversion to clean energy.

HB 2788: Identifying water rights for Municipal Water Supply Purposes.

House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, scheduled for public hearing | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Would allow municipal water suppliers, including irrigation districts, to convert agricultural water rights into municipal water rights without any review by the Department of Ecology to determine if they are valid.
  • Will result in harm to salmon and existing water rights.

HB 2840: Relating to establishing a water discharge permit for concentrated animal feeding operations.

House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, possible executive action | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Restricts ability of communities to enforce clean water laws relating to large scale agricultural operations.
  • Will result in increased contamination of drinking water, Puget Sound, and other waterbodies

HB 2841: Funding the Building Code Council and setting up a stakeholder group to devise a permanent budget solution.

House Local Government Committee: Public Hearing | POSITION: SUPPORT

  • Bi-partisan deal to provide the Code Council with a two-year funding boost via a temporary building permit surcharge of $1 per residential permit and $5 per non-residential permit to avoid agency shutdown and staff layoffs as soon as July.   Agency fees have not been adjusted for 26 years, and their function is vital to the state’s meeting our building energy use reduction goals.
  • Moves the Council to the Department of Enterprise Services and sets up an interim stakeholder process to discuss a permanent budget solution and potential process reforms.

HB 2891:  Regarding payments to counties in lieu of property taxes by the department of fish and wildlife.

Appropriations Committee | POSITION: SUPPORT

  • “Payments in lieu of taxes” is a system that ensures counties with significant publicly-owned lands can maintain their property tax base.
  • This bill will restore the historic payment levels to counties thus improving the desirability and benefits of hosting public lands for protection of fish and wildlife.

Hot List for the State Senate

SB 6224: Concerning energy facility site evaluation council procedure.

Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee: Possible Executive Session | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Places unrealistic time limits on the timeline reviewing energy projects such as large oil terminal proposals, clean energy projects, and nuclear energy.
  • As a result, EFSEC review will be forced to cut corners, fail to include SEPA review information, and provide flawed recommendations to the Governor for a final decision.

SB 6287: Relating to Definition of Hydraulic Project.

Senate Natural Resources Committee: Possible Executive Action | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Will exempt all projects above the ordinary high water mark from coverage under the HPA permit.
  • Exempt projects will damage critical habitat for salmon, forage fish, and other species.

SB 6511:  Concerning forest health through prudent wildfire prevention.

Natural Resources & Parks Committee POSITION: SUPPORT

  • Improves the state’s approach to wildfire prevention by requiring a strategic plan for treatment of the 2.7 million acres of forest land in Washington that is in poor health.
  • Identifies priority areas for treatment and encourages mechanical thinning and prescribed burning  two critical tools for improving forest health and preventing catastrophic wildfire.

SB 6525: Funding the Building Code Council and setting up a stakeholder group to devise a permanent budget solution.

Senate Government Operations and Security: Public Hearing | POSITION: SUPPORT

  • Bi-partisan deal to provide the Code Council with a two-year funding boost via a temporary building permit surcharge of $1 per residential permit and $5.50 per non-residential permit to avoid agency shutdown and staff layoffs as soon as July.   Agency fees have not been adjusted for 26 years, and their function is vital to the state’s meeting our building energy use reduction goals.
  • Moves the Council to the Department of Enterprise Services and sets up an interim stakeholder process to discuss a permanent budget solution and potential process reforms.

SB 6545: Relating to creating a task force on Washington’s clean energy economy.

Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee: Public Hearing and Executive Action | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Creates a task force to recommend changes to existing clean energy laws, regulations and taxes to benefit the manufacturing sector.
  • Committee will meet only twice, in Whatcom and Grant County.

SB 6551:  Notice of Violation for a Discharge from an Agricultural Facility.

Senate Natural Resources Committee: Public Hearing | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Would make it illegal for state agencies to investigate and enforce pollution problems associated with agriculture when the agency receives a confidential tip regarding the violation
  • Would greatly reduce the willingness of community members to report violations and, in turn, would result in more water quality problems.

SB 6568: Relating to establishing a water discharge permit for concentrated animal feeding operations.

Senate Agriculture Committee: Public Hearing | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Restricts ability of communities to enforce clean water laws relating to large scale agricultural operations
  • Will result in increased contamination of drinking water, Puget Sound, and other waterbodies

SB 6570: Prioritizing the expenditure of funds associated with the model toxics control act for the cleanup of toxic pollution.

Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee: Public Hearing and Executive Action | POSITION: OPPOSE

  • Eliminates funding for the 2015-17 biennium for programs and projects that prevent and control pollution before it becomes a costly problem and support communities facing a toxic pollution threat.
  • Rather than making cuts, the Legislature should add funding to address the current shortfall and keep MTCA’s three core purposes (cleanups, prevention, and community support grants) functioning.