Dems support handing over land use veto to the military? Really? – State Legislation


As reported lately on the web site of the Coupeville Community Allies, Democrats in Olympia have sponsored an odd set of bills, HB 2431 and Senate bill 6456.

 

  • The bills on their surface seem to simply be adding the base commanders into the process for helping determine appropriate land use around the bases. But the criteria for the distance away from the bases is not defined. Theoretically, this could be *anywhere* in the county, given the scope of airfields and other training facilities. For instance, a proposed wilderness area could theoretically be stopped even if it’s hundreds of miles away based on base needs for overflight.

  • Given the Navy’s long demonstrated lack of real interest in anything other than it’s own needs, as demonstrated in the expansion of Whidbey Naval Base and it’s overflights in the west end of the Olympic Peninsula, it’s training flights that continue until midnight on many nights when training is in session, it’s expansion of undersea training to public beaches at all hours of the day or night as they see fit, with no ability by local officials to effectively limit it, and it’s overflights of unmuffled jets over Port Townsend and the San Juan Islands, the Navy has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with land use decisions.
  • Base commanders should not have any right to dictate land use – this is up to the local governments and their citizens. Giving up this right to support “present and future” military missions constitutes a seizure of land use rights by the federal government, and is an inverse condemnation of public and private property.  Such actions are prohibited by Article 1, Section 18 of the Washington State Constitution, and by the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Background

House Bill 2341 and Senate Bill 6546 are identical – they prioritize military land use over civilian land uses, even when properties are not adjacent to military installations.

They are backed by the Washington Military Alliance, a group of Chamber of Commerce members with four executives and a small staff.

The WMA claim that their charter is to “ensure defense industry vitality in an era of reduced defense spending.”  I am unclear of what ‘reduced” defense spending they are talking about, since the last tax bill that was passed granted even more money to defense, as did last years federal budget. We already spent approx 47% of our discretionary budget on defense and an unknown amount in our “black” budget, which the public is not entitled to see.

According to the web site, “The Balance“:

The U.S. military budget is $824.6 billion. That’s the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 which covers the period October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Military spending is the second largest federal government expenditure after Social Security at $1 trillion.  U.S. military spending is larger than the next nine countries combined.

The $824 Billion is approx. $100 billion more than we spent at the height of the war in the last decade!

Full text HB2341: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2341.pdf

Full text SB 6456: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/6456.pdf

The wording in HB2341/SB 6456 REQUIRES land use planning to incorporate any present or future missions of the military bases anywhere in the state – for any reason deemed appropriate by military base commanders. This means that the military mission trumps the local citizens’ desires. This turns local governing authority upside down. This gives veto power to a base commander over land use theoretically anywhere in the State and for any reason.The language in the bill needs to be substantially clarified, as to what constitutes “adjacent” lands in the eyes of the military.

They amend current legislation by:

  1. Making the prohibition of incompatible developments mandatory

  2. Extending the prohibition to lands that are not adjacent to the military installation

  3. Applying the prohibition to the benefit of any military installation, no matter how small

  4. Allowing the State Department of Commerce to spend up to $25 million every two years to acquire property to eliminate an existing incompatible use, or to increase the availability of housing affordable to enlisted military personnel. The criteria is that any organization receiving funds must show support for the military.

 

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