Senate Hearing Next Step in Passages of State Lands Bill
Wallace Falls State Park is one of several state parks that could face closure if SB 5622 fails to pass. Photo by Karen Portin.
This has been a long, slow legislative session, but there are new signs that a bill that would keep Washington's state parks and DNR land open will ultimately pass. Here's the latest story from Olympia.
On February 18, the Senate Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee voted Senate Bill 5622 out, after which it was referred to Ways and Means. Then we settled in for a long wait. With House and Senate deadlines looming, committees in both chambers busied themselves with moving legislation out that had to observe those deadlines. Since SB 5622 is considered necessary to implement the budget, the normal legislative deadlines didn't apply, so it was back-burnered until the stove was cleared a bit.
Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on SB 5622. The hearing was another lesson in waiting, as the Committee worked its way through a couple of bills that had many folks signed up to testify, as well as a work session on hospital payments. Thirty minutes after the meeting was scheduled to adjourn, SB 5622 came up. Eight people - including me - testified, and all but one was in support of moving this bill forward.
The Committee is clearly very interested in moving forward, but that likely won't happen until a couple of amendments are considered. They're not deal-killers, but it'll take some time to draft and advance them. We'll report more on those when there are more specifics to entertain.
Until then, be rest assured SB 5622 has wind at its sails. My only fear is that, given the distance between the House, Senate and Governor on the 2011-2013 proposed operating budget, we may be looking at another special session this year. The prospect of a special session gives me chills. I remember the excruciatingly slow pace at which the legislature worked during its 30-day redo last year. I, and others advocating for SB 5622, want to make sure that this bill is finalized in the regular session.
You can help by contacting your state senator and letting him or her know that you support SB 5622, and that if we don't move it forward, we're going to see the closure of several State Parks and DNR recreation lands. That will have immeasurable quality of life impacts for Washington trail users, and very real economic impacts for the gateway communities that depend on these recreation areas.
You can find your elected officials here. Thanks so much for your continued advocacy for trails!