Senate passes Ericksen bill to help Northwest Washington Fair

Senator Doug EricksenSen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, today won unanimous Senate passage of his bill to protect the property tax-exempt status of the Northwest Washington Fair and Events Center in Lynden.

Ericksen introduced Senate Bill 6598 after learning the fair would lose its tax-exempt status as a result of renting out the use of its facilities for non-fair purposes.

“The tough economy is forcing nonprofits like the Northwest Washington Fair to find creative ways to support their facilities,” Ericksen said. “The fair’s mission has not changed; the exemption is vital to its survival.”

SSB 6598 would allow nonprofit agricultural community fairs to keep their property tax-exempt status as long as fair facilities are not rented out for more than 50 days in a calendar year. The bill applies to taxes levied for collection in 2013 and 2014; the act expires Jan. 1, 2015.

“My bill gives us two years to bring the stakeholders to the table to find the best long-term solution,” Ericksen told his colleagues during debate on the bill. “There are other fairs that will benefit by this bill and other communities that should be involved in the discussion. These fairs are important to farm families and agriculture in general.”

SSB 6598 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.