We are coming to the end of Week 9 of the legislative session. The last couple of weeks we spent long days debating and voting on bills on the House floor.
It has been a very productive couple of weeks. Eight bills I have prime-sponsored have been passed by the House of Representatives and sent across the rotunda to our colleagues in the Senate. Below is a rundown of the bills I am hopeful will get public hearings in the Senate and continue moving through the legislative process.
Moses Lake Mayor Todd Voth on the House floor with Rep. Tom Dent.
Bills in the Senate…
House Bill 1018 – Airport grants: would increase the allowable grant amount the Department of Transportation may provide for general aviation projects from $250,000 to $750,000. The maximum grant amount has not been changed in 35 years. Passed House 97-0.
House Bill 1400 – Special aviation plates: would create Washington state aviation special license plates. Aviation has been such a big part of our state's history, dating back more than 100 years when Boeing established themselves in Washington. Passed House 94-4.
House Bill 1353 – Elk pilot project: would require the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W) to conduct an elk management pilot project to explore various wildlife management actions to reduce highway collisions. The DF&W would work with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and the bill is specific to the Colockum herd in Kittitas County. Passed House 96-1.
House Bill 1578 – Irrigation district public-private partnerships: would give irrigation districts the authority to enter into private/public partnerships. This enables the districts to do more when there is a lack of funding. It will also allow the irrigation districts in eastern Washington to put power generating stations in the canals. Passed House 97-0.
House Bill 1924 – Small forest landowners: would exempt small forest landowners from some of the provisions in the Farm Labor Contractor Act. People would be able to clean up their property more efficiently as they work to reduce wildfire risk and make their property more “firewise.” Passed House 98-0.
Rep. Dent works with Rep. Maycumber on the House floor.
House Bill 2073 – Beef Commission: would prioritize some of the Washington Beef Commission's responsibilities – promotion, research and education related to health and disease control of beef, and promoting increased consumption of beef and beef products. It would also improve the oversight, transparency and accountability of the commission's financial operations. Passed House 91-7.
House Bill 1819 – Reducing paperwork and documentation requirements to improve children's mental health and safety: The bill would require the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to reduce unnecessary and time consuming paperwork and documentation requirements, allowing agency staff and mental health professionals to spend more time working directly with patients and clients. Passed House 98-0.
House Bill 1656 – would create Community Aviation Revitalization Loan Program: would create a loan program to help address the state's aviation infrastructure needs. Passed the House 95-2.
Rep. Dent delivers the opening prayer on the House floor earlier this session.
13th District Telephone Town Hall
Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Matt Manweller and I are holding a telephone town hall meeting on Monday, March, 13. The program is similar to a call-in radio show, people can ask questions over the telephone and participate in surveys.
Since the 13th Legislative District covers such a large geographic area, the telephone town hall is a great tool to reach constituents during the legislative session. I hope you will participate. Your input and feedback is important to us.
To participate, you can call (509) 941-2750 during the event. If you have questions during the call, press the star (*) key on your telephone keypad.
Representatives from the Kittitas County Robotics program visited Rep. Dent earlier this session.
We are working on many important issues in Olympia, but one of the top priorities is to come up with a solution to the Hirst decision. The Hirst decision comes from a state Supreme Court ruling last October on Whatcom County's comprehensive plan. The court said the plan failed to provide protection of water resources in accordance with the Growth Management Act (GMA). The ruling put the status of exempt private wells into question even though the county complied with the Department of Ecology's rules that allows permit-exempt wells if fewer than 5,000 gallons of water are taken per day.
The court ruling has far-reaching effects across the state. It impacts other counties, property owners, land developers, and rural communities. Sen. Judy Warnick's Senate Bill 5239 could help us address the Hirst decision. It has passed the Senate, so we will be reviewing in the House. I am hopeful we can keep it intact or make it a stronger piece of legislation in the House.
If you would like to get in touch with me with any questions, thoughts or concerns or if you are going to be in Olympia, please don't hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com or give me a call at (360) 786-7932.
It is an honor to serve you!