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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to thank everyone who participated in the Zoom Virtual Town Hall event Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Alex Ybarra and I held Feb. 8. I appreciate you taking an hour of your evening to talk with us. We were impressed with the turnout and heard from constituents all across the district. I am hopeful we can hold some in person town hall meetings in the near future. Your questions, input, and feedback are important to us. I encourage you to stay engaged as we work through the last month of the session.

My apologies for not providing an update sooner. It has been a very busy session, but will I keep you updated on a more frequent basis. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have questions or concerns.

House of origin cutoff

Wednesday, March 8, was the house of origin cutoff. That meant bills not passed out of the chamber where they originated are considered dead for the session, unless some extraordinary steps are taken.

When we had reached cutoff, there were 329 bills passed by the state House of Representatives, 77 which were prime-sponsored by House Republicans. I was able to get four bills out of the House and over to the Senate, plus I am involved with or am a co-sponsor of other pieces of legislation that are high-profile issues.

This email provides a breakdown of those bills, as well as a look at some of the good and bills still alive in the legislative process. Let me know if you have any questions on any of this legislation or what is happening this session.

Prime-sponsored legislation in the Senate

I have worked hard to get several pieces of legislation over to the Senate. All four bills passed the House unanimously. There is still a lot of work to do to get them through the legislative process. Bills in the Senate include:

  • House Bill 1019 would create the Pesticide Advisory Board to advise the Washington State Department of Agriculture on pesticide-related actions. For more information read my press release here.
  • House Bill 1032 would mitigate the risk of wildfires through electric utility planning and identification of best management practices of each electric utility’s circumstances.
  • House Bill 1243 would provide another tool for communities to manage municipal airports.
  • House Bill 1590 would change the membership and qualifications of the oversight board for children, youth and families. It streamlines the process and ensures qualified individuals are serving in these positions.
Rep. Dent confers with a House colleague before floor debate earlier this session.

Airport siting legislation

In 2019 we passed legislation to recommend possible locations for a new airport in Washington state. I was on that commission, but we did not have enough time to do a thorough review of what we were trying to accomplish. COVID played a role, but we also did not have enough resources and there was not enough outreach.

This week we passed House Bill 1791 that would replace the commission with an appointed work group to provide a comprehensive look at new and existing airport sites in Washington. The bill passed 88-9. To read my statement on the legislation click here.

Aviation assurance funding in response to wildland fires

Just before the house of origin cutoff last Wednesday, we were able to pass House Bill 1498, the “Aviation Assurance Funding” bill. This legislation is the culmination of seven years of work trying to get this passed. This is a critical measure for eastern Washington. It would allow local fire departments who use aviation suppression efforts on the initial attack of brush, timber and grass fires to be reimbursed by the state for those expenses.

If local fire districts can immediately begin using air support to attack a fire, it could be out much quicker, prevent destruction of timber and range land, protect our air quality, and prevent state mobilization and potentially save the state millions of dollars. 

It passed the House unanimously. We now need to get this important bill through the Senate.

Bipartisan riparian legislation

In my last email update, I mentioned the bipartisan riparian program, House Bill 1720, Rep. Joel Kretz and I have co-sponsored along with Democratic Reps. Mike Chapman and Rep. Debra Lekanoff. The House Agriculture and Natural Resource (AGNR) Committee voted the bill out of committee.

You can read the news release Reps. Chapman, Kretz and I sent by clicking here.

The legislation then went to the Capital Budget Committee. The four of us signed budget provisos to ensure the policy would be funded in the capital budget. See below.

Reps. Chapman, Dent, Lekanoff, and Kretz sign capital budget provisos.

You can read more about us signing the provisos in our joint news release.

Unfortunately, the bill stalled in committee. It is disappointing, as I believe we are truly on the verge of passing historic legislation. Our proposal would create a voluntary riparian management program that allows landowners to work with their local conservation districts. It is the culmination of many hours of meetings that consisted of lawmakers, tribal members, farmers, fishermen, landowners, and others. It is a testament to all involved that we were able to find a workable solution for everyone on such an important issue.

We have not given up. With the fiscal implications of the bill, we are continuing to work on getting the policy as well as the funding into the capital budget. We will keep you updated.

Environmental impacts from leaded aviation fuel

House Bill 1554 would have abolished low-lead fuel in Washington aircraft. The majority of piston-engine airplanes run on low-level fuel. This would have been devastating to our aviation industry. The original bill would have also required a number of reports on the planes. Most of the issues in the original bill are already governed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

I was able to amend the bill to make it an advisory/education bill. This is a win-win for both sides.

Good and bad bills

Our caucus is tracking legislation this session that we believe to be good pieces of legislation or concerning bills. Keep in mind, this is as the bills are introduced. The bills are subject to change as they make their way through the legislative process. Click, here to check out our list.

Learn more and stay engaged in the legislative process

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about legislative issues before us this year, please do not hesitate to contact me.

It is an honor to serve the great folks of the 13th Legislative District!


Tom Dent

State Representative Tom Dent, 13th Legislative District
437 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(509) 941-2346 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000