Ecology's 2016 legislative priorities
The 2016 Washington legislative session began January 11 and is scheduled to end March 10. The legislature will not be creating a biennial budget this year but will be addressing budget issues with a supplemental budget.
Every year, Ecology identifies legislative changes that would help us better fulfill our mission of protecting and restoring Washington's environment. We work with legislators and the governor to create and support bills during the legislative session to bring about those changes. This is called our agency request legislation.
In 2016, we are requesting the passage of two bills. We also support a supplemental budget request to help address declining revenue for toxic cleanup and prevention projects.
Agency request legislation:
Bill 1 – Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) 30-Year Term
What the bill does: This bill would allow communities to take up to 30 years to pay back loans used for wastewater treatment facilities. Currently, loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) must be paid back in no more than 20 years.
Why it's important: Some communities struggle to pay for costly but necessary wastewater projects. Allowing an extra 10 years to repay loans from the revolving fund makes projects more affordable and aligns this funding program with federal requirements. Funded and upgraded wastewater treatment facilities mean less water pollution and a healthier Washington.
Bill 2 – Efficiency and Effectiveness of Ecology Statutes
What the bill does: This bill will update and modernize sections of 10 environmental laws. It will:
Why it's important: These out-of-date statutes create unnecessary additional work and cost extra time and money. Cleaning up and clarifying these laws will help us operate more efficiently. It will help us better serve the public and protect the environment.
Supplemental budget request:
The issue: The Model Toxics Control Act, or MTCA, is the engine that drives the prevention and cleanup of toxic pollution in Washington. The Act set standards for cleanups, and established the Hazardous Substances Tax to pay for cleanup projects and prevention work. Because the majority of Hazardous Substances Tax revenue comes from petroleum products, recent low oil prices have led to challenges funding the programs and projects MTCA is responsible for.
How we're addressing the problem: To deal with these revenue challenges, Governor Jay Inslee's 2016 supplemental budget requests $25.5 million in bond authorization to allow major cleanup projects to continue. In addition to this funding, Ecology is taking a number of measures to reduce spending and shift funds as directed in the 2015-17 capital budget to ensure that essential work to manage and prevent toxic pollution will carry on.
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