2011 Legislative Roundup

Here’s what got accomplished and not, in the last session in Olympia.  From People For Puget Sound. If you like what you read here, then you should think about becoming a member and supporting their work. It can’t happen without your membership.

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PEOPLE FOR PUGET SOUND   2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION  SUMMARY

 

The 2011 “regular” legislation has come to a close and the Governor has called the legislature back in for a 30 day “special” session to resolve differences between House and Senate on the budget and related bills.   The following list provides a summary of bills that we “actively” lobbied during the regular session.    There is an additional set of issues that we monitored or may have taken positions on, but did little in the way of actual lobbying.

Despite the challenging fiscal environment and the fact that the Senate is controlled by conservative majority, we had a fairly productive session.   We passed significant legislation on oil spills and copper antifouling paint, defeated or successfully amended every bill that we opposed, and have funded all our core programs in the three budgets (Governor, House, and Senate) that have been released so far.

  1. I.                 Oil Spills

 

  1. HB 1186: Oil Spills (Pro)                                                                              Signed by Governor

(See also SB 5439 – House companion)

HB 1186 enhances Washington’s oil spill preparedness and response capability:  1) directs Department of Ecology to develop rules which will require stockpiling of additional, state-of-the-art spill response equipment, including aerial surveillance (to allow response in nighttime/fog) and equipment capable of operating in fast currents and waves; 2) large scale deployment drills to test response capability; 3) increased damages for spills; and 4) enhanced vessel incident notice provisions.

 

  1. HB 1403: Oil Spill Transfer Fee (Pro)                                                    Failed

This legislation provided a new source of revenue to fund the state Spills Program.   The oil “transfer fee” generated approximately $4 million / year.

  1. II.               Stormwater

 

  1. HB 1478: Delay Phase II / SMA (Neutral final version)                         Delivered to Governor

(See also SB 5360 – Senate companion bill)

Stormwater provision originally delayed the planned adoption of Phase II stormwater general permit into the next administration, thereby jeopardizing new requirements on local governments to develop Low Impact Development (LID) ordinances.   We supported amendments which call for adoption of the permit in 2012 during present administration, with implementation delayed until 2013.

  1. SB 5436: Copper Bottom Paint (Pro)                                                       Delivered to Governor

(See also 1785 – House companion bill)

Phases out the use and sale of copper antifouling paint on recreational vessels.   This paint is believed to contribute to 10% of total copper loading into Puget Sound and poses significant risk to salmon and other aquatic species.  This ban is the first of its kind in the nation and compliments the copper brake pad ban legislation passed last year.

  1. HB  1735 : Stormwater Funding (Pro)                                                      Failed

(See also SB 5604 – Senate Companion)

The “Clean Water Jobs Act” was designed to generate $100 million / year for local stormwater programs, including a significant amount of funding for LID retrofit projects.   Despite the fact that it was an environmental community priority, the bill failed in committee in both chambers.   Nonetheless, all three Capital Budgets (Governor, House, and Senate versions) contain approximately $50 million in funding for these programs and projects over the next two years.

  1. HB 1806 : Industrial Stormwater (Con)                                                   Failed

This bill, promoted by the AWB and Boeing, would have required the Department of Ecology to

rewrite the industrial stormwater general permit removing any firm requirement to meet water quality objectives.  We defeated this bill in the House Committee then fought off efforts to amend it on to additional bills in both House and Senate.

 

  1. III.              Agricultural Water Quality

 

  1. HB 1152: Voluntary Compliance Ag WQ (Con)                                                     Failed

This legislation would have prevented the Department of Ecology from enforcing against non-point agricultural sources without having first gone through a long cumbersome process.

  1. SB 5723: Livestock Operations (Con)                                                                 Failed

Shifted authority for agricultural water quality programs from Department of Ecology to Department of Agriculture and Conservation Commission.  Called for deregulation of these programs.

  1. HB 1886: Ruckelshaus Agricultural (Pro)                                                 Signed by Governor

Calls for the establishment of an incentive based program to encourage compliance with non-point water quality objectives.   We lobbied successfully to include language to ensure that the program would not interfere with water quality enforcement.

 

  1. IV.             Nearshore Habitat: SMA / GMA

 

  1. HB 1088: SMA/GMA Moratoria (Con)                                                                    Failed

This bill would have severely restricted the ability of local governments to place moratoria on development during periods when they are updating local shoreline management plans or critical area ordinances.   Moratoria are necessary to prevent vesting of projects that don’t meet the new requirements.

 

  1. HB 1082: SMA/NPDES Violations (Con)                                                                 Failed

This bill contained provisions which required technical assistance rather than enforcement for SMA violations.

 

  1. HB 1783: Houseboats SMA (Neutral final version)                            Delivered to Governor

(See also SB 5623 – Senate companion bill)

We opposed this bill in its original form, which would have completely deregulated houseboats under both the SMA and Aquatic Lands Act.   Shading of critical habitat in the nearshore area from houseboats and other overwater structures is a major concern for salmon and other aquatic species.    After lengthy negotiations, the bill was scaled back and we were able to declare neutrality on the final version.

 

  1. HB 1662: SMA Appeals (Neutral final version)                                     Failed

We opposed this bill in its original form.   It called for Shoreline permit appeals to go to Superior Court rather than the Shorelines Hearings Board, a change that we strongly opposed.  It also made it effectively impossible to “stay” projects during appeal processes.   We amended the bill to remove these provisions.

  1. SB 5451: Shoreline Structures (Neutral final version)                         Delivered to Governor

The original version of this bill would have allowed for many existing structures (such as bulkheads) to be “grandfathered in” under old development standards when Shoreline Management Programs were updated.   This would have negated much of the value of Shoreline Master Program updates.  The bill was amended to remove these provisions.

  1. V.               Nearshore Habitat: HPA
  1. HB 1233: Elimination HPA (Con)                                                              Failed

This bill eliminated requirements for projects that damage fish habitat to receive an HPA permit from Department of Fish and Wildlife.

  1. SB 5529: DFW HPA Fees and Streamlining (Con)                                  NTIB / Special Session

(See also HB 1588: House companion bill)

The Senate version of this bill, in its current form, calls for reducing the “jurisdiction” of the HPA program to in-water projects with a few exceptions.   Under current law, all upland development that can impact fish habitat is covered under the HPA permit.   The bill also calls for consolidation of forest practices HPA’s into the less protective Forest Practices Act permitting process.  It  expands the use of “general permits” which tend to be less protective than individual HPA permits.    On the positive side, the bill authorizes, for the first time, permit fees to fund the program and greatly expands civil enforcement tools.    Without the passage of this fee authority, the entire $6 million program could be defunded in the budget.    Whether a balance can be achieved between permit “streamlining” and fee/enforcement provisions remains to be seen.

 

 

  1. VI.             Other

 

  1. HB 1938: Capitol Lake (Con)                                                                     Failed

This bill would have locked in the management of the Deschutes Estuary as a lake, preventing future efforts to restore what is now Capitol Lake in Olympia into a functioning estuary.  People for Puget Sound helped lead a grass roots campaign to block this legislation.

  1. SB 5230: Puget Sound Corps (Pro)                                                           Signed by Governor

(See also HB 1294 – House companion bill)

Consolidates current multi-agency Conservation Corps into the Department of Ecology and refocuses the effort on Puget Sound restoration.   We were successful in amending the bill to require the agency to fully explore funding options that were not accessible to NGO’s before tapping into sources that are otherwise available to non-profits.

  1. HB 1198: SEPA Damages (Con)                                                                 Failed

This bill allowed for damages against those bringing an unsuccessful challenge of a local project under SEPA.   It would have had a significant chilling effect on SEPA litigation.

  1. HB 1713: SEPA Categorical Exemptions (Neutral final version)         Failed

The subject of many hours of negotiation and debate, we originally opposed HB 1713, which contained large “categorical” exemptions to SEPA, preventing review of projects which have significant environmental impacts.   After a long series of negotiations, we were able to limit the scope and size of the exemptions in the final version so that, ultimately, they represented de minimus projects.

 

 

  1. HB 1307: Peer Reviewed Science (Con)                                                  Failed

This bill required that any “significant” agency action be supported by peer reviewed science.   While we support the use of good science to back agency decisions, this bill would have paralyzed state natural resource agencies and opened the door to litigation.

 

  1. SB 5266: Permit Reform (Con)                                                              Failed

This bill called for extensive use of general permits as opposed to individual permits.   While we support permit streamlining, this bill would have significantly compromised the effectiveness of various state environmental permits.

 

 

 

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