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State Legislative Session Kicks off Today

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Jan 09, 2012 07:45 AM |

nullUpdate, January 10, 2012: Senate Bill 5977 passed the Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters Committee unanimously, and has been referred to Ways and Means. The Ways and Means hearing has not been scheduled.

The legislative session kicks off today with a flurry of bills pertaining to the Discover Pass; nine total bills in the House and Senate have been introduced. Some of them will move, some will languish, and all will cause a stir. And if you'd like to the opportunity to let your legislators know personally how you feel, please take a moment to sign up for WTA's Hiker Lobby Day on February 1 in Olympia

First out of the barrel is SB 5977,legislation we told you about last month that would make the discover pass transferable between vehicles. SB 5977 is sponsored by Senator Kevin Ranker, and is scheduled for a vote in Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Marine Waters today (Monday) at 1:30 pm. WTA strongly supports this legislation as an elegant solution to Discover Pass vehicle transferability. It's companion bill is HB 2153, which is prime sponsored by Representative Zack Hudgins.

Here's the rest of the field. We're fairly neutral on most of these bills listed below, except for one about which we have very grave concerns. I'll tackle that one last.

  • SB 5985: Another piece of legislation that allows the Discover Pass to be transferred between two vehicles.
  • SB 5986: Allows people to use the Fish and Wildlife Vehicle Access Pass to access DNR recreation sites. Its companion bill is HB 2187.
  • SB 5998: Limits the need for a Discover Pass on DNR lands to developed recreation sites.
  • HB 2217: Mandates that the final cost of the Discover Pass is $30, in effect prohibiting transaction fees.
  • HB 2161: Provides a free annual Discover Pass to anyone who holds a State Parks disabled veterans access pass.
Finally, the bill that gravely concerns us: SB 5979. This legislation would divert 70% of DNR's Discover Pass allocation to the state trusts. As you may know, DNR manages timber and tidelands in order to provide revenue to the state school system. This bill would remove a significant chunk of money from DNR's user fee revenue and place it in the school trust. While providing funds for schools is laudable, it's a betrayal of the public trust to divert a user fee to a purpose for which it was not intended. We do not expect this legislation to move, but we're still very concerned that it's out there.
We'll be tracking all these bills this session. I'm looking forward to keeping you updated as they progress - stay tuned right here to the Signpost Blog.


State Legislative Session Kicks off Today

Hikers should support SB5998. It would require the DNR to limit the Discover Pass to truly developed sites, not just driving through the forest. The discover pass should be similar to the NW Forest pass, which we are familiar with. Let's get rid of driving backroads with that obnoxious, dangerous yellow hang tag. Parking at developed sites makes sense.

Posted by:

loowit on Jan 10, 2012 08:26 AM