Energy, Environment & Telecommunications takes bipartisan approach to job creation, reducing energy costs

Today marks the first milestone of the 2013 legislative session – the deadline for bills to be considered by policy committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, which I chair, was able to work in a collaborative fashion to promote positive solutions.

Members of the committee worked together in a bipartisan manner toward the goals of creating energy-sector jobs, lowering the cost of energy and encouraging new energy technologies. I’ve received positive feedback from all corners of the Capitol on how we have been able to operate a respectful committee that considers all viewpoints.

One of the highlights for me was working with my neighbor to the south, Sen. Kevin Ranker, on a package of bills to reform our state’s toxic clean-up account. If we’re able to move those two bills forward, they may be the most important job-creation legislation adopted this year.

In addition to Ranker’s toxic clean-up bill, the committee also passed a bill he introduced at the request of Governor Inslee to study carbon emissions in Washington state. More examples of bipartisanship include legislation by Sen. Andy Billig on electronic product recycling and labeling of asbestos building materials. And a bill brought forward by Sen. Maralyn Chase would create a paint stewardship program to dispose of hazardous waste.

Bills proposed by members of the Senate’s bipartisan governing coalition were also considered and approved. A measure by Sen. Jim Honeyford would increase eligible renewable resources. Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill would allow utilities to keep energy prices low. And a bill by Sen. John Smith would encourage more use of biomass energy.

This is only the first leg of session, and I’m looking forward to continuing this collaborative tone in the coming weeks. Not all of these bills will pass into law, but what’s important is that we’re considering viewpoints from all across the political spectrum. In the end, that will lead to better policy.