February 16, 2023
WDFW seeks public comments on 2023-2024 hunting seasons
OLYMPIA–The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will accept written public comments on proposed rule changes to regulations for 2023-2024 hunting seasons from Feb. 15–Mar. 27.
Proposals included in this round of rulemaking include those related to landowner hunting permits, deer and elk special permits; hunting seasons, areas, and permit quotas for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat; and hunting seasons and regulations for migratory gamebirds.
Senate panel hears Republican bill to accelerate broadband in rural areas
OLYMPIA–Wednesday, the state Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee held a public hearing on a proposal from Sen. Nikki Torres, R-15, Pasco, that would invest $200 million to expand broadband capacity in underserved rural areas of Washington and allow the private sector to help…In 2021, the Legislature approved a capital budget for 2021-23 that invested a record $413 million toward the expansion of broadband….Senate Bill 5577 would create a capital broadband investment acceleration program within the Statewide Broadband Office (SBO)…Sen. Matt Boehnke 5-15, Kennewick, is co-sponsor.
Bill would require state to reimburse farmers, others who are exempt from ‘cap-and-tax’
OLYMPIA–Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-9, Ritzville, wrote in his Legislative Commentary, farmers and others in the ag industry have yet to receive a farm diesel exemption from the “cap-and-tax” program (also called the Climate Commitment Act) that was enacted by the Democratic majority in the Legislature in 2021.
After learning about this, I asked the Department of Ecology why it has not implemented this important exemption. The response from DOE was less than reassuring. Department officials have blamed “Big Oil” for the lack of an exemption so far. DOE officials also say this exemption will be enacted this summer, apparently forgetting that farm work goes on well before summer.
Less than satisfied with DOE’s response to my question about this farm fuel exemption, I decided to join 16th District Sen. Perry Dozier in sponsoring a bill that tries to fix this problem.
Senate Bill 5728 would develop a process to implement exemptions for farm diesel and other certain fuels under the “cap-and-tax” program. It has been sent to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee, though no public hearing has been scheduled yet.
My 9th District seatmates, Reps. Joe Schmick and Mary Dye, have introduced similar legislation in the form of House Bill 1780.
SB 5054, to cut classroom learning time in schools by four hours a week
OLYMPIA–Senate Bill (SB) 5054 would reduce classroom learning time by four hours a week by changing the legal definition of “instructional hours” to which students are entitled. The proposed cut in instructional hours comes as schools are receiving record levels of funding, over $18.8 billion in education spending.
SB 5054 is being proposed as the level of academic achievement provided students in the public system is falling. On the 2022 Smarter Balance state tests public schools failed to educate 62 percent of students adequately in math, and failed to educate 49 percent of students adequately in reading.
SB 5054 would set the precedent of filling classrooms with district staff not qualified to teach. The declining performance of the public system is one reason 46,000 families have withdrawn their children, and sought learning alternatives elsewhere.
SB 5054 would deny Washington’s students the education they have been promised, at a time when school funding and teacher pay are at record-high levels.
McMorris Rodgers, Levin Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Access to Veterans Services
Washington, D.C–Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) today reintroduced the bipartisan Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach (CVSO) Act. The bill would authorize federal funding to expand the work of county veterans service officers (CVSOs) who are often the best resource on the ground to help veterans and their families understand resources at their disposal, file benefit claims, and represent veterans in VA hearings.
Democracy on the ballot: SB 5082 and SB 5209–Advisory Votes
OLYMPIA–Legislative Democrats have passed tax increases 38 times since 2021. Through Advisory Votes, voters have advised against 28 of their 38 tax increases (73.6%), often by wide margins. Instead of trying to get rid of Advisory Votes (SB5082), legislative Democrats should listen to the people….Senate Democrats passed a bill that would abolish advisory votes….Some who support Senate Bill 5082 claim, without any supporting data, that abolishing advisory votes would encourage more voter participation…Democrats think advisory votes are confusing to voters….they just don’t like what votes have to say.
Winter Chinook fishery to temporarily close beginning Saturday, Feb. 11 in central Puget Sound to preserve opportunity in March
OLYMPIA–The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery managers announced today to temporarily suspend winter Chinook salmon fishing in central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) to preserve opportunity in March. The closure goes into effect Saturday, Feb. 11 until further notice.
2022 Was Another Record Year for U.S. Farm Exports
WASHINGTON D.C.–The American agricultural sector posted its best export year ever in 2022 with international sales of U.S. farm and food products reaching $196 billion, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Final 2022 trade data released earlier this week by the Commerce Department shows that U.S. agricultural exports increased 11 percent, or $19.5 billion, from the previous record set in 2021.
USDA Announces Renewed Partnership with Tribal Colleges and Historic Realignment
WASHINGTON D.C.–For nearly 30 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and tribal land-grant colleges and universities have partnered to prepare the next generation of agriculture professionals in Indian Country. USDA is honored to renew its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), which represents the 36 federally recognized tribal colleges and universities designated as land-grants.
WDFW seeks comment on status review for western gray squirrel
OLYMPIA–The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on a draft periodic status review for western gray squirrel that includes a recommendation to re-classify the squirrel as a state endangered species. The public comment period closes May 10.
The draft periodic status review for western gray squirrel is now available on WDFW’s website. The public can submit written comments on the document via email ([email protected]) or by postal mail to Taylor Cotten, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.