The 2013 regular legislative session, which concludes today, featured the advancement of several issues identified as key priorities of Washington’s environmental community.
- New-energy solutions and environmental improvement
- Senate Bill 5802 convenes a legislative task force to examine the most cost-effective means to improve the state’s environment and further the advancement of clean-energy technologies.
- Senate Bill 5603 establishes the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council to serve as an advisory body and forum for communication on marine-water issues and ocean acidification.
- Conservation works
- Senate Bill 5296 would establish the Environmental Legacy Stewardship Account to refocus the state’s toxic-cleanup program on the renewal of contaminated lands and prevention of future hazards. The bill was passed by the Senate and is now before the House of Representatives for further consideration. Because it is considered necessary to implement the Senate budget, it will remain in consideration during the forthcoming special session.
- Stormwater projects – the Senate budget proposals include over $100 million in funding for stormwater projects across the state.
- Consumer protection from toxic chemicals
- House Bill 1294 would ban the sale, manufacture or distribution of children’s products or furniture containing the chemical TRIS. The bill has been approved by the House and Senate in different forms; under the Senate version, Washington would become the first state in the nation to ban the use of these flame retardants. This issue will be again eligible for consideration in the forthcoming special session.
These achievements represent positive steps forward for Washington’s environment. The Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, which I am chairman of, was also able to work in a more bipartisan fashion than in years past, with 13 bills sponsored by members of the Democratic Party. By comparison, Republicans had just seven bills advanced through the committee last year when the chairman was Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.
The fact that we were able to work in a collaborative and transparent fashion towards the advancement of these goals is a reflection of the commitment of legislators from both sides of the aisle to our state’s environment. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure the passage of SB 5296, which establishes the Environmental Legacy Stewardship Account.