The first milepost reached in the 2016 session


The first milepost reached in the 2016 session

Dear Friends,

Today the Legislature reached an important deadline; it was the last day policy committees could vote on Senate bills. Next Tuesday, Feb. 9, is the last day for Senate fiscal committees (Ways and Means; Transportation) to vote on bills that have an impact on the state budget.

On Feb. 17, we’ll get the updated state revenue forecast. Once we get those new figures, the Ways and Means Committee, which I serve on, will begin work in earnest on developing the supplemental state budget.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to call, e-mail or write. I appreciate your feedback as I represent you in Olympia.


New Sig

Sharon Brown
State Senator
8th District


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Jason’s Law one step closer to full Senate vote


On Thursday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved an amended version of my bill to improve the sentencing guidelines for vehicular homicide. Senate Bill 6219, also known as Jason’s Law, now moves to the Rules Committee – its final stop before receiving a vote by the full Senate.

Jason’s Law is named in honor of Jason Smith, a young Kennewick father who had just dropped his daughter off at gymnastics practice before having his life taken from him by a reckless driver.

Miguel Paniagua (pictured above), who was speeding away from police when his car collided with Jason’s, eluded police capture for 13 days following the crash. There was no way by then for law enforcement to test him for drugs and alcohol. The sentence for a DUI is much tougher than for reckless driving, but police have a very slim timeframe in which to gather evidence. Paniagua was convicted of vehicular homicide and recently given the maximum sentence possible under current guidelines – only 8.5 years. With good behavior, he could be out in less than 4 years.

Under my bill, driving recklessly would become an aggravating factor on the charges after a fatal crash; this type of vehicular homicide, due to reckless driving, would be on the same level from a sentencing standpoint as vehicular homicide caused by a drunk or stoned driver.


Senate panel approves my bill on timely project reviews

Senate Bill 6527 addresses need for timely permit reviews with regulatory ‘shot clock’


As chair of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee, I am continually asking our job creators and workers what we in Olympia can do to make it easier for them to be successful and thrive.

One of the things I keep hearing, especially from those seeking permits to build, expand or develop new infrastructure in Washington, is that they face a “regulatory nightmare” that can delay projects, not for months, but for years.

To address their concerns, I have introduced Senate Bill 6527, which would give employers, developers, investors and others seeking project approvals greater certainty about the processing of state permits.

Known as the “shot clock” bill, SB 6527 requires that:

  • Government agencies responsible for State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review must complete environmental reviews no later than 30 days after publication of a categorical exemption, a determination of non-significance, or a final Environmental Impact Statement prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
  • Government agencies complete environmental project reviews no later than 12 months within time of submitting an application for projects not requiring a federal NEPA review;
  • With limited exception, state permitting agencies must adopt and follow the federal NEPA review if the federal review has already been completed; and
  • Projects be exempt from SEPA review if they are already subject to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act or Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.

My committee approved the bill on Wednesday with a broad coalition of support from both the Association of Washington Business and the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.


From the District:

Firefighters visit Olympia


This week several of our local Tri-Cities firefighters stopped by to say hello and discuss wildlife/wilderness fire issues. It was a great opportunity for me to hear their concerns and needs, and share with them my deep appreciation for all they do to protect our communities.

The group was in Olympia for an annual legislative meeting of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters, which represents 130 affiliated local firefighter unions and more than 6,900 affiliated members of the International Association of Fire Fighters within our state.


Ways & Means committee holds hearing on LRF bill

On Thursday the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on my bill to revive Local Revitalization Financing.

Senate Bill 5109 authorizes the reallocation of up to $3.2 million in unused LRF funds. The bill also changes the program from a first-come first served basis with applications managed by the Department of Revenue to having the Department of Commerce select applications based on specific criteria.

In Kennewick, we established the local revitalization area, which is now known as Southridge.

It is important to note that the city developed ball fields and an indoor sports pavilion-these are things that are not going to be developed privately, yet they encourage private development, which is exactly what happened in Southridge.

We now have a huge apartment complex, lots of wonderful starter homes, and several new businesses – restaurants, coffee shops and others that have just sprung up organically, as a result of the city investing in that revitalization area.

Kennewick was able to generate more 3.7 million tourism dollars in less than one year, and that was without the project being completed.


In the News: Expanding nuclear power

While most people in the Tri-Cities are aware of the important role nuclear power plays in our economy, it is critical that we share that message with our friends on the western side of the state. I recently had an opportunity to do just that, when I was invited to join Seattle’s Dave Ross on KIRO-FM’s Morning News.

Click to listen to my interview on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross.

Save the Date: 8th District Town Hall meeting

Senator meeting

As always, I value hearing directly from you, and one of the great ways for that to happen is for you to attend our

8th District Town Hall

Date: Saturday, March 19

Time: 10 a.m. – noon


The Arc of Tri-Cities
1455 SE Fowler St.,
Richland, WA 99352

State Representatives Brad Klippert and Larry Haler and I invite anyone living in the 8th District to come ask questions, make comments, and voice your concerns about measures in the Legislature and issues affecting the Tri-Cities.  

We are also planning our 8th District telephone town hall. It’s another great way for us to learn more about what is most important to you and your family.  We can also update you on the latest news from the Legislature. We’ll have more details about that soon.

In the meantime, if you would like to contact me, please write, phone, e-mail, or stop by if you’re in the Olympia area.

Feb. 5, 2016


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Olympia, WA 98504-0408



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