Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are entering the sixth week of session and time is flying by! The short 60-day legislative sessions go by fast. Last week, we had our second legislative deadline of session: fiscal committee cutoff, which means members on our House Transportation Committee and fiscal committees worked long hours to meet the deadline.
Reaching the halfway mark is a good time to review and reflect upon our accomplishments thus far so we can focus on the work we still have yet to do. In the first couple of weeks, the Legislature passed a permanent bi-partisan Hirst agreement and then a 2017-2019 capital budget. This is great news for the state of Washington and for the 13th District!
The bottom line of the Hirst decision is that the majority of the existing wells of the 13th District will be grandfathered in and have the same standing as they did prior to the state Supreme Court ruling on in-stream-flow rules. That means if you have been waiting to build you can now obtain a building permit to do so! Only in Kittitas County, which is a Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA), will the metering pilot project, that is already established, continue with state funded meters on new wells.
Capital budget projects
With the Hirst agreement we were able to pass the capital budget which includes significant projects throughout the 13th District. Some of the projects include:
- Washington State Horse Park Covered Arena;
- Larson Playfield lighting renovation in Moses Lake;
- Industrial Park No. 5 water system improvements in George;
- Industrial Park No. 5 road improvements in George;
- City View in Moses Lake conversion to residential treatment;
- Quincy wastewater project;
- Harrington School District pool renovation;
- Clymer Museum and Gallery remodel; and
- Teanaway Working Forest.
Central Washington University will also benefit from the capital budget, in particular funding for their Nutrition Science Building.
New addition to 13th District Office
After a successful career at the Daily Record in Ellensburg, Patricia Tenney has made it to Olympia to serve the 13th District as my new legislative assistant (LA) and will finish out session here in Olympia. During interim, Patricia will be working in our district office in Moses Lake and will continue to be involved in the Kittitas County Fair as Fair Board Admission Director. Patricia is a hard-working and devoted community organizer that has raised two daughters in Ellensburg and now has two grandchildren. “I feel honored and thankful to be here representing the 13th District,” she said when asked about her new employment opportunity. “I know so many people and it is good to give back to my community.”
We have a great 13th District team and Patricia is a wonderful addition! She is currently in the Olympia office as we finish the last few weeks of the legislative session. You can contact her at 360-786-7932 or email her email@example.com as we welcome her aboard.
Patricia and Rep. Dent in front of the state Capitol building
Update on 2018 Legislation
House Bill 2555 would provide the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W) with the authority to issue permits to the Wanapum Indians for freshwater food fish for ceremonial and subsistence purposes. Other tribes have this authority. It does not give them the authority to fish commercially. The Wanapums have never signed a federal treaty. This bill could be coming up for a vote on the House floor soon.
Wanapum Indians visit Rep. Dent – Jan.16, 2018
House Bill 2561 would allow the commissioner of public lands to direct the wildland fire advisory committee to review, analyze, and make recommendations on the wildfire prevention, response, and suppression activities. The committee would also evaluate the existing fire mobilization process and identify potential efficiencies or other reforms that may lead to a more effective, coordinated wildfire response. This bill could be coming up for a vote on the House floor soon.
Wildland Fire Summit
On Jan. 31, Patricia and I had the opportunity to attend the Wildland Fire Summit. I was invited to give the opening remarks. I am committed to fight for initial attack and fire suppression efforts and also join the efforts of Rep. Joel Kretz in his commitment to forest health and prescribed burning efforts. I thanked everyone for coming and for their support.
Rep. Dent giving the opening remarks at the Wildland Fire Summit
House Bill 2754 would change current distribution of aircraft-fuel-retail-tax and reallocates one percent of the 6.5 percent total tax revenue to the state aeronautics account. As the remainder 5.5 percent goes directly to the general fund, House Bill 2754 would take just one percent of that retail tax and leverage that revenue through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Grant Program to fund airport preservation projects that generate “direct revenue” in the form of sales and business and occupation (B&O) taxes. Airport preservation projects include grant programs and infrastructure projects such as laying pavement. This bill has a positive impact to the state's general fund as well as our state aeronautics account. If this passes it will be part of the supplemental transportation budget.
House Bill 1656 would create a loan program known as the Community Aviation Revitalization Loan Program. It would serve the smaller airports around the state allowing access to low-interest loans to fund projects that are not eligible for grant programs such as those that contribute to economic development. There is enough support to keep this legislation going. In fact, $5 million was included in the 2017-2019 capital budget for aviation revitalization loans. At the end of the 2017 session House Bill 1656 had still not passed. By rule, it was reintroduced for the 2018 session. Sen. Jim Honeyford has a similar bill, Senate Bill 5328 and both are moving forward. I am hopeful we will have the policy bill in law by the end of session to go along with the funding. This bill is in the Rules Committee and could be voted on in the House at any time.
A-team on ag policy appointment
I have recently been asked to sit on President Trump's ag policy team. It is an advisory committee comprised of approximately 65 agricultural and political leaders from around the country.
Given the importance of agriculture in the 13th Legislative District and Washington state, this is an incredible opportunity to provide input at the federal level on the ag and rural issues before us. Having firsthand knowledge of the agriculture-related priorities from our federal administration will be beneficial as I work on those issues at the state and legislative level.
The Ag Team consists of current and former chairs of the House and Senate agriculture committees, current and former farm-state governors, and presidential hopefuls.
This work will intersect with my responsibilities within the Washington State Legislature as I serve as the assistant ranking minority member on the state House Ag and Natural Resources Committee. I am a rancher myself as I raise and sell grass fed beef and bison at my Flying T Ranch in Moses Lake.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at (360) 786-7932. I look forward to hearing from you!
It is an honor to serve you.