Committee considers legislation stemming from my 'listening tour'

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January 18, 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

There are several ways for a state legislator to help constituents when questions or concerns arise. My office and I can accomplish a lot simply through phone calls, e-mails and letters, while other matters are better suited to personal meetings. Sometimes a piece of legislation becomes necessary – an example being Senate Bill 6055, which received a public hearing during the first week of the 2018 session.

Leavenworth was the first stop on my 12th District “listening tour” in early October, and my first appointment was with officials from the city. One of the things they brought to my attention was a problem with disposing of brush and yard waste, due to recent adjustments made to the state’s apple maggot quarantine-area boundary. The line now intersects the city and prohibits Leavenworth from transporting its brush and yard waste towards Wenatchee.

Leavenworth listening tour
6055 guests

Leavenworth officials who met with me at their City Hall in October (top photo) were in the group that joined me recently at the Capitol (lower photo) to speak in favor of the resulting legislation.

Could the city burn the brush and yard waste instead of paying to haul it 102 miles west for disposal? I took the question to the state Department of Ecology, because outdoor burning involves air-quality regulations. I also prepared a bill that would allow Leavenworth (and the other three municipalities that also are partially inside the quarantine area) to burn the brush and yard waste in a highly-coordinated fashion twice a year – as a pilot project to help determine whether it’s a possible solution to the city’s challenges. I also connected the city officials with high-level representatives from the appropriate state agencies: Ecology and Agriculture.

State Senator Reuven Carlyle, who represents part of Seattle, is the chair of the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee. After much discussion prior to the session, he agreed to co-sponsor SB 6055 with me and granted my request to have a public hearing on Jan. 11.

6055 testimony 2
6055 testimony 1

Testifying in support of my Senate Bill 6055 were (top, from left) Leavenworth councilmember Sharon Waters, city administrator Joel Walinski, and councilmember Margaret Neighbors, plus councilmember Elmer Larsen and  Brenda Blanchfield, solid waste coordinator with Chelan County Public Works (below). I also testified and submitted additional written testimony from Chelan County to be entered into the committee record. The state's apple maggot quarantine map is visible in the photo below; click here for a searchable version.

It was clear from the discussion following the hearing that the committee members understood and were sympathetic to Leavenworth’s situation (“between a rock and a hard place,” as one put it). Chair Carlyle even pointed out that any concerns about air quality from burning the debris had to be weighed against the air pollution caused by trucking the debris across the Cascades (which also is extremely expensive for the city). He expressed hope that an answer can be found soon, and I share that optimism. The encouraging reception my bill received can only help to keep the conversation moving and focused.

For me, introducing legislation is sometimes a last resort, but it can certainly be effective at generating conversation and raising awareness. My hope is that the pilot-project bill will pass, in its current form or with improvements, or for the regulatory agencies to dedicate resources towards helping Leavenworth find a reasonable solution to this challenge.

Click here for my latest interview with KPQ radio, which includes more about the Leavenworth bill. Click here for the Wenatchee World article describing the bill. Click here to view TVW's coverage of the committee hearing.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator.


Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000