April 29, 2021
State Capital gains bill
By Sen. Mark Schoesler
OLYMPIA–A compromise version of the Senate Bill 5096 was agreed upon. According to our caucus budget/tax analyst, the agreed-upon version of the bill includes language that says: “The tax levied in subsection (1) of this section is necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions.” If this language remains in, it is likely that a court would defer to the Legislature’s determination and conclude that the tax is not subject to a referendum.
Governor sign Schoesler tax modification bill
Sen. Mark Schoesler
OLYMPIA–Governor Inslee signs the Senate Bill 5251, a prime-sponsored Sen. Mark Schoesler bill which modifies tax and revenue laws in a manner that is not estimated to affect state or local tax collections, by easing compliance burdens for taxpayers, clarifying ambiguities, making technical corrections, and providing administrative efficiencies.
Umatilla National Forest cautions visitors about spring weather conditions
PENDLETON, Ore.–The winter snow is receding and spring fever has many people excited to get outside and explore the forests. Though snow may have thawed from the foothills, forest officials are warning that most forest roads are still not accessible due to mud or snow. In addition, traveling on thawing, saturated, and muddy roads can result in resource damage and serious safety concerns, especially if visitors are unprepared.
Mushrooms are free up to the legal limit, if you can find them!
JOHN DAY, PENDLETON and BAKER CITY, Ore.–As the snow recedes, friendly fungi are returning to the forest floor. If you know where to look, and what to look for, mushrooms are available to pick for personal consumption within the daily legal limits: one gallon in Oregon and five gallons in Washington. No permit or payment is required to harvest, possess, or transport up to these legal limits, provided the mushrooms are not sold or traded but enjoyed by the picker.
Wildland fire ZOOM meeting scheduled
WASHINGTON and OREGON–The Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, and the Oregon Department of Forestry invites the public to join a media refresher event to support coverage of wildland fires for the 2021 season by Zoom meeting on Tuesday, June 29 at 1:30–3 p.m.
Meal service continues through June 30
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented a broad range of flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country to return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. Schools nationwide will be allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO).
Claims for regular benefits decreased
OLYMPIA – During the week of April 11–17, there were 13,216 initial regular unemployment claims–down 23.5 percent from the prior week, and 414,414 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories–down 3.3 percent from the prior week, filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD).
McMorris Rodgers Pushes to Stop Fentanyl Overdoses
WASHINGTON D.C.–Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) continued her push to extend the emergency scheduling of fentanyl analogues. Speaking on the House floor, Cathy urged Democrats to work with Republicans for a permanent solution—not just a temporary extension—to stop the scourge of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths in Eastern Washington.
USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains in Response to President Biden’s Executive Order to Support Resilient, Diverse, Secure Supply Chains
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural commodities and food products. USDA is taking this action in response to Executive Order 14017, America’s Supply Chains, signed by President Biden on Feb. 24, 2021. The request for comments is published today in the Federal Register and the comment period will close on May 21, 2021.
McMorris Rodgers Continues Leading to Secure Cleaner American Energy Future
WASHINGTON D.C.–House Democrats introduced the Green New Deal on April 20. However, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) continued leading to secure a cleaner energy future that unleashes innovation and protects America’s economy through her Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act.
McMorris Rodgers Announces Legislation to Lower Drug Prices, Promote Cures
WASHINGTON D.C.– Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) introduced the Lower Costs, More Cures Act to drive down drug prices for individuals and families in Eastern Washington without limiting access to cures.
USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program
WASHINGTON D.C.–The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, the Biden-Harris administration is working to leverage USDA conservation programs for climate mitigation through USDA investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement today at the White House National Climate Task Force meeting to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.
White House Launches Drought Relief Working Group to Address Urgency of Western Water Crisis
WASHINGTON D.C.–The formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and support farmers, Tribes, and communities impacted by ongoing water shortages. The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to build upon existing resources to help coordinate across the federal government, working in partnership with state, local, and Tribal governments to address the needs of communities suffering from drought-related impacts.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments and Senior Staff
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Department of Agriculture today names of individuals who will hold senior positions in Washington, D.C. Karama Neal, PhD was named Administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service; Mike Schmidt was named Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary; Lisa Ramirez, EdD was named Director of the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement; and Doug McKalip was named Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary.
USDA Expands Nutrition Assistance for Seniors
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is increasing food assistance to low-income seniors by providing nearly $37 million in additional support to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). States and Tribal nations will receive the new funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act to serve additional seniors, in addition to up to $2.6 million in administrative funds from a previous COVID relief bill.
Launching Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate
WASHINGTON D.C.–At President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate on April 23, 2021, the United States and United Arab Emirates, with endorsement from the United Kingdom’s COP 26 Presidency, and with support from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay, announced plans to launch the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate). The goal of AIM for Climate, which will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021, is to increase and accelerate global innovation research and development (R&D) on agriculture and food systems in support of climate action.