The Washington State Legislature convened on Monday, January 8, to launch this year’s 60-day legislative session. Despite the short time left between now and the end of session on March 8, lawmakers have a long to-do list.
One major victory, and our top priority for this session, was the passage of a state capital budget. On January 18, lawmakers passed the 2017-2019 capital budget on a near-unanimous vote. Hundreds of projects benefiting the environment and communities statewide can now begin, along with school construction, social services and other projects. Stay tuned to this space to read more in detail about some of the great forest health and floodplain restoration projects that will soon be underway with state capital funding.
We are excited about the momentum at the highest levels of state government to address climate change in Washington, another major focus of ours this session. Gov. Inslee used his annual State of the State address on January 9 to call upon the Legislature to act on climate by putting a price on carbon pollution, and earlier this month Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz laid out her priorities for combatting climate change. On January 16 a Senate committee heard more than two hours of testimony on a bill to address carbon pollution, including ours, and is expected to vote on the bill by early February. As part of a diverse partnership of nonprofits, businesses, community leaders, health advocates and others advocating for smart climate policy in 2018, we will be working with lawmakers to craft the best possible carbon-pricing policy for Washington.
Action on climate change is one of four priorities of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, WA organizations advocating for a healthier environment and healthy communities. To sign up for updates and get involved, visit the Environmental Priorities Coalition website. Check out the Town Hall Tool for opportunities to meet your state legislators in your community.
Building upon great policy success for Washington’s forests in 2017, when the legislature doubled its funding for forest health and resilience, we are advocating for legislation supporting thriving forests and forest communities. This includes laws to improve prescribed burning practices and training, protect rural communities, and coordinate cross-agency, cross-boundary forest health work more efficiently.
We continue to advocate for groundbreaking programs and ideas with the potential to transform how Washington deals with chronic environmental challenges. These include a partnership with the state Department of Ecology and Puget Sound Partnership, Floodplains by Design, as well as innovative projects aimed at solving stormwater runoff for a healthier Puget sound.
We’re proud to be a voice for nature in Olympia, and we invite you to get involved. To learn more about our policy priorities and stay up to date on our advocacy work sign up for our Government Relations updates.
Banner photo by Hannah Letinich.