Legislative update 0212: Lovelett appointed; pesticide bill gets public hearing

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Tuesday marked day 30 of the 2019 Legislative Session. We are more than a quarter through with the legislative session. It was a busy week last week, although the pace of bill introductions has slowed. Week 5 is off to a slower start, as all legislative committees were cancelled Monday, Feb. 11, due to heavy snow across the region. Port staff will monitor changes to hearing schedules as the week progresses. Feb. 22, 2019, is the Legislature’s first policy cutoff deadline, when all policy bills must make it out of their policy committee to remain alive.

Liz Lovelett appointed to the Senate

County Commissioners in the 40th Legislative District have selected Anacortes City Council member Liz Lovelett to fill the state Senate seat recently vacated by former Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island). She was chosen by the county commissioners in Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan counties from three Democratic candidates selected by party leaders as candidates to replace Ranker. Lovelett has been a member of the Anacortes City Council for six years. She said she will spend several weeks in the Legislature before deciding whether to resign her city council position.

Hearing held on H-2A temporary agricultural program

SB 5438, sponsored by Senator John McCoy (D-Tulalip) was heard on Feb. 7 in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. This bill would require those who use H-2A temporary workers to pay an additional cost to hire H-2A temporary workers. This bill is opposed by agriculture, including the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG), because the cost of this bill will make the use of the workers in an already tight labor market cost prohibitive. A hearing was previously heard on the house bill – HB 1398.

Bipartisan pesticide bill heard in fiscal committee

Wednesday, the Senate Ways & Means Committee held a public hearing on bipartisan legislation implementing the recommendations of the pesticide application safety work group. SB 5550is sponsored by Senator Rebecca Saldana.  Rep. Tom Dent is the prime sponsor of the companion bill in the House, HB 1725. HB 1725 was scheduled for a hearing in the House on Feb. 14.

The bill establishes the pesticide application safety committee to explore how state agencies collect and track data and considers the feasibility and requirements of developing a shared database, including how the Department of Health could use existing tools to better display multiagency data regarding pesticides.

WAWG supports this legislation.