Working on passing good legislation in a bipartisan manner: House bills 1812 and 1928
One of my greatest objectives as a member of the Washington State House of Representatives is to work on and pass good legislation that helps as many people as possible in the state of Washington. This is often difficult, given the philosophical differences between Democrats and Republicans.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want to resolve the state's biggest issues. We just differ in our views in how to do that. However, that doesn't mean we can't work together to pass good policy that makes sense for the greatest number of people.
To that end, I want to tell you about two recent bills that passed out of the House, including House Bill 1812, which received input from both sides.
While HB 1812 did move forward, my bill (House Bill 1871) regarding equity in the clean energy facility siting process, did not. This legislation would help create equity between Washington counties producing clean energy and the counties consuming that energy. As the push for clean energy continues to grow in the state, little has been done to address equity in the siting process of this clean energy movement.
HB 1871 did receive a public hearing and a lot of attention and interest from both the public and media. However, it did not make it out of committee. But in a bipartisan move, much of the policy in HB 1871 was added as an amendment to HB 1812, which was introduced by a Democratic legislator, and has been passed out of the House.
Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, the Republican ranking member in the House Environment and Energy Committee, introduced the amendment using the language and intent of HB 1871. The amendment, in this case, was almost as good as my original bill. That is a bipartisan success and a win for rural counties in Washington.
The amendment would require the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) to consult with stakeholders from rural communities, agriculture, and forestry to gain a better understanding of the benefits and impacts of anticipated changes in the state's energy system. That includes the siting of facilities under the jurisdiction of the EFSEC and identify risks and opportunities for rural communities.
That means, before determining the locations of new clean energy facilities, by law the EFSEC must hold public comment sessions and ask for input from citizens, businesses, local leaders, and local environmental groups. This should create more equity in the siting process, which is a win for everyone involved.
Another bipartisan piece of legislation passed by the House last week, was House Bill 1928, which would create the Washington Equine Industry Reinvestment Account in the state treasury. This account would be funded through an annual mandatory transfer from the state general fund.
The funding from this bill would allow the Horse Racing Commission to continue fulfilling its duties while also saving and creating hundreds of direct and indirect jobs. The commission would also be able to continue supporting the agriculture industry, returning tourism to small communities, and protecting green space.
The funds would allow the commission to support other equine programs and activities like 4-H, thoroughbred adoption organizations, and therapy programs for veterans. Lastly, the legislation would also re-establish Class C Horse Racing in Washington in cities like Kennewick, Dayton, and Walla Walla.
The bottom line is putting a small portion of the state's revenue back into the industry that creates it, would have a huge positive impact on the entire industry and the state of Washington.
Both these bills are great examples of lawmakers from both sides coming together to pass smart legislation that improves our state and helps all Washingtonians.
Rep. Mark Klicker represents Washington's 16th Legislative District, which includes the cities of Pasco and Walla Walla.
As printed in the Dayton Chronicle and the Prosser Record-Bulletin