LEGISLATION and POLITICS

Purpose: To inform about key Washington State environmental legislation that’s pending and that has recently passed; to inform about candidates for election who support legislation that protects and strengthens our environment.

Listed below are the legislative priorities for Audubon Washington, the Washington Environmental Council, and Zero Waste Washington.

Our awareness, knowledge, involvement, and votes during the political process determine if our environment and nature are conserved for now and for the future. ⸺ MRM

AUDUBON WASHINGTON’S 2022 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

The following is pasted from https://wa.audubon.org/news/legislative-agenda-birds-and-places-they-need  then click on “Get Involved” and then “Bill Tracker: 2022 Legislative Session” (accessed 15 Jan. 2022)

TOP PRIORITIES OF AUDUBON WASHINGTON

Well-sited, Equitable Solar Energy     Legislation: HB 1814
     Creates a new incentive program to provide funding to support low-income solar installations on buildings, parking lots, existing impervious surfaces, and other locations that don’t displace habitat or prime farmland.
     This bill, recently introduced by Rep. Shewmake (D-42), is scheduled for a hearing on Friday, January 21st at 10am.

Growth Management and Climate Change     Legislation: HB 1099
     Updates our state’s growth management act to include climate change as a planning element. If passed, it would fund a requirement that counties in Washington plan for emissions reductions and climate resilience.
     This legislation almost made it across the finish line in 2021 and is well-positioned to pass this year. As of now, the bill needs to come to the House floor before moving on to the Senate.

Shoreline Protection in Puget Sound          Legislation: TBD
     Requires a comprehensive assessment of Puget Sound shoreline conditions, identifying structures that are either unpermitted or have fallen into disrepair. It also requires replacement structures to meet the same (more environmentally protective) standards as new structures.
     This bill is in the final stages of drafting and has not yet been introduced. It is Audubon Washington’s top priority for Puget Sound protection in 2022.

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OTHER KEY PRIORITIES OF AUDUBON WASHINGTON

Lorraine Loomis Act      Legislation: HB 1838 / SB 5727
     Addresses habitat quality and water temperature in Washington’s watersheds. The bill would create a standard for tree height next to rivers and streams, establish a new Riparian Habitat Conservation Grant Program to help landowners meet this standard, and provide the accountability and oversight necessary for programmatic success.
     This bill has its first public hearing in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources on Wednesday, January 19th at 10:00 AM.

 Solar Energy in Parking Lots     Legislation: SB 5714
     As we work to encourage better siting of solar energy projects, parking lots present a unique opportunity to produce clean electricity in the built environment while also reducing the urban heat island effect.
     This bill had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology on Thursday, January 13 at 10:30 AM. Audubon Washington testified in support of this legislation.

Conservation Futures Levy Lid Lift     Legislation: HB 1672
     
Fourteen counties rely on the Conservation Futures program to generate funds needed to permanently protect and maintain open space, farms, forests, parks, and trails. This bill removes a cap on the amount of money counties can raise to invest in local conservation projects.
     This legislation has its first public hearing in the House Committee on Finance on Tuesday, January 18th at 1:30 PM.

Technical Support for Sustainable Farms and Fields     Legislation: HB 1631
     One of our priorities for 2022 is funding the Sustainable Farms and Fields program, which was created in 2020 but because of the pandemic, never funded. We’re asking legislators to not only fund the program, but to pass this bill which provides more technical assistance for landowners who want to adopt carbon-smart farming practices.
     This bill had a public hearing in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources on January 11th and is scheduled for an executive session (vote) on January 18th.

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OTHER LEGISLATION THAT AUDUBON WASHINGTON IS TRACKING

Protecting Washington’s Eelgrass and Kelp     Legislation: SB 5619 
     Calls for a collaborative plan to conserve and restore 10,000 acres of kelp and eelgrass beds by 2040.

     This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks on Thursday, January 20th at 1:30 PM

Waste Reduction  Legislation: SB 5697

     This legislation, an Environmental Priorities Coalition priority, addresses plastic waste by funding improvements in waste infrastructure, uniform access for residents across the state, and a clear list of what people can recycle. This bill will have the added benefit of shifting recycling costs away from ratepayers and onto the manufacturers.
     This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology on Tuesday, January 18th at 10:30 AM

GMA Sprawl Loophole   Legislation: SB 5042

     This legislation, an Environmental Priorities Coalition priority, closes a sprawl loophole that undermines the intent of the Growth Management Act (GMA). The loophole allows counties to subvert the Growth Management Hearing Board (GMHB) appeals process to illegally build sprawling developments that devours farmlands, forests, and critical habitats.

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WASHINGTON ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL’S 2022 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

(For details on these agenda items, as well as to see the 2022 Partnership Agenda bills, please go to the link below:)

     – LORRAINE LOOMIS ACT FOR SALMON RECOVERY
     – TRANSPORTATION FOR ALL
     – GMA SPRAWL LOOPHOLE
     – RENEW ACT [concerning recycling]

⸺ source: Washington Environmental Council webpage at https://wecprotects.org/, then go to “Announcing our 2022 legislative priorities” (accessed 30 Dec. 2021).

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ZERO WASTE WASHINGTON’S 2022 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

2021-12-31 Zero Waste-related legislative bills being proposed, so far
⸺ The following is pasted from  https://zerowastewashington.org/newsletters/4th-quarter-december-2021-enewsletter/ (accessed 31 Dec. 2021). Bolding is mine (MRM).

Zero Waste Washington has been working with terrific partners, highly engaged stakeholders, and wonderful environmental legislative champions to develop policy for the the following bills:

The RENEW Act bill, to modernize our recycling system and reduce waste, is being championed by Senator Mona Das and Representative Liz Berry. It sets strong targets and adds a producer responsibility program for packaging and printed products,. This bill builds on the momentum of similar bills passed recently in Maine and Oregon.

Policy to decrease methane gas at our landfills is being led by Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and Senator Mona Das. In 2022, the goal is to take steps to divert more organic material (food waste and yard debris) to compost and anaerobic digestion facilities and move excess food to hungry people. Another bill, led by Representative Davina Duerr, will increase the effectiveness of landfill gas extraction. Zero Waste Washington’s recent report, Improving Organic Materials Management, covers many of these policies.

We need to make it easier and cheaper to repair electronic items (i.e., items with a screen). A groundbreaking Right to Repair bill, championed by Representative Mia Gregerson, is in the works. This has extra momentum due to the recent announcements by Microsoft and Apple that they will make it easier for people to repair their devices.

Addressing safety and ease of recycling of batteries through a product stewardship bill is being led by Representative Kirsten Harris-Talley. Lithium ion batteries are a major concern because they can cause fires at our recycling facilities and elsewhere. We need to make it easy for people to recycle batteries safely through a take-back program rather than putting batteries in our home garbage or recycling bins.

More details to come, as we get closer to session. We will update our legislative work webpage as bills get officially introduced.

Thank you all for your help in moving important zero waste bills forward. If you have any questions, please contact Heather at heather@zerowastewashington.org.

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Note: Washington Conservation Voters (WCV) recommends Washington State candidates for each election cycle who have strong environmental records. WCV endorsements can be found at https://wcvoters.org/endorsements/.
(WCV does not make endorsements for candidates for federal office.)

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LOOKING BACK: Some LEGISLATIVE SUCCESSES IN 2021

CLIMATE ACTION ACCOMPLISHED   (i.e., climate-action leadership by example.)

– Climate Commitment Act passed.
– Clean Fuel Standard passed.
– Wildfire funding approved.

Washington State governor Jay Inslee summarized key accomplishments by the 2021 legislature with regards to climate action in a 2 July 2021 letter:

“We made historic progress in the fight to end the climate crisis. We passed the Climate Commitment Act to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our economy and invest in programs that expand clean transportation and improve air quality” and “We passed a clean fuel standard, which promotes the use of electric vehicles and lower-carbon fuels, leading to reduced carbon emission and new, local jobs in clean energy.”
⸺source: Jay Inslee, letter, 2 July 2021; letter distributed by the group Jay Inslee for Washington.

“Together, the Climate Commitment Act and the clean fuel standard will accelerate Washington state’s lead in tackling the climate crisis—and providing a roadmap for other states to improve public health and grow their economies.”
⸺source: Jay Inslee, letter, 2 July 2021; letter distributed by the group Jay Inslee for Washington.

“The work we do now [for 2022] will be as significant as last year’s [in 2021] historic session, when we passed a Clean Fuels Standard, the HEAL Act, Climate Commitment Act, wildfire funding and more.”
⸺ source: Washington Environmental Council webpage (https://wecprotects.org/) > “Announcing our 2022 legislative priorities” (accessed 30 Dec. 2021)

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

– HEAL Act passed.
Washington Environmental Justice Advisory Committee formed.

“It [the Washington State legislature] also enacted one of the strongest environmental justice policies in the nation creating a standing environmental justice advisory committee that gives members of frontline communities a voice in policy design and investment decision.”
     ⸺source: Jay Inslee, letter, 2 July 2021; letter distributed by the group Jay Inslee for Washington

FOOD AND WATER SAFETY

– Food safety advanced.
    
“Earlier this year, over 130 people of faith asked the Department of Ecology to speed up the phase out of toxic PFAS chemicals in food packaging. . . . Now the second assessment of safe food packing without PFAS will be published by the end of 2021 instead of mid-2022. This action was a follow-up to the Healthy Food Packaging Act that Earth Ministry/WAIPL helped pass in 2018” (5).
    
⸺ source: EARTH letter, fall-winter 2021, the quarterly newsletter of Earth Ministry/WAIPL, https://earthministry.org/fall-winter-2021-earth-letter/

– Drinking-Water standards improved.
    
“Later this summer, the Earth Ministry/WAIPL community also submitted comments to the Washington Department of Health asking for strong protections from PFAS in drinking water. On October 13, the WA Board of Health approved drinking water standards for five separate types of PFAS. Large water systems are now required to test for these toxic chemicals, which will make a real difference in lowering community exposure” (5).
     ⸺ source: EARTH letter, fall-winter 2021, the quarterly newsletter of Earth Ministry/WAIPL, https://earthministry.org/fall-winter-2021-earth-letter/

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RESOURCES

Audubon Washington https://wa.audubon.org/ (accessed 30 Dec. 2021)

Earth Ministry https://earthministry.org/    (accessed 5 Jan. 2022)

Legislators
– Washington State Senators   https://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Senators/Pages/default.aspx (accessed 18 Jan. 2021)

Washington Conservation Voters (accessed 30 Dec. 2021)    https://wcvoters.org/ (accessed 30 Dec. 2021)  

Washington Environmental Council webpage           https://wecprotects.org/     (accessed 30 Dec. 2021)

Zero Waste Washington         https://zerowastewashington.org/

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