Legislative update: Special session likely

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Yesterday marked the 93rd day of the 2017 Legislative Session. Another important legislative deadline occurred last week, when all bills must have passed out of the opposite chamber’s fiscal committees to remain “alive.” The next legislative deadline is April 12 when all bills must have passed out of both chambers to remain “alive,” unless they are necessary to implement the budget.

The 2017 Legislative Session is scheduled to end on April 23, however, I expect a special session will be needed to reach an agreement on the operating budget.

Legislature passes DNR lease bill

Both the Senate and House have now passed legislation the Washington Association of Wheat Growers supported regarding the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) agriculture leases. SSB 5051 requires DNR to provide at least 180 days notice before terminating an agriculture or grazing lease. SSB 5051 passed both the Senate and House unanimously and now goes to the governor for his signature.

House releases proposed capital budget

On Wednesday, April 5, the House released their proposed capital budget for the 2017-2019 biennium. The capital budget includes appropriations made to state and local agencies for building and construction projects, such as public schools, universities, parks, and prisons. The House held a public hearing on their proposal on April 6 and passed it unanimously out of committee on April 7.  Here are some highlights of the proposed House capital budget:

WSU – $38.1 million to construct Phase II of the Global Animal Health Building known as the Allen Center at the Washington State University (WSU).

Water Supply – $52.1 is provided to the Washington State Department of Ecology to continue programs whose purpose is to use a wide range of methods to increase water supplies to meet the instream flow needs of fish and wildlife and the out-of-stream needs of agriculture and communities.

  • $24.2 million is for continued implementation of the Columbia River Basin Supply Development program through coordinated conservation projects, instream flow improvement projects, and leases of water to end users.
  • $18.9 million is for additional work on projects under the Yakima River Basin Integrated Plan, including fish habitat enhancement, an upstream‐downstream fish passage facility, a water transfer pipeline, inactive storage, aquifer storage and recovery, agricultural conservation and water bank/exchange programs.

More details can be found at the following links: