Legislature begins final week of session

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March 9, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Legislature is beginning its final week of the 60-day session. The adjournment is scheduled for March 12 and it appears that updates to all three of the state budgets (operating, transportation, and capital) will be approved later this week. The budgets are still in the final stages of negotiations between the House and Senate, so it is too soon for me to know the details and whether I will be able to support the budgets in their final form.

For more information about the budgets, please visit fiscal.wa.gov. Most major deadlines have already passed, so by now most of the individual bills – other than those necessary to implement the budgets – have either been approved or have not advanced. Below is an update on some of the items that I have mentioned in my previous email newsletters:

Controversy surrounds sex education bill

Most of the bills approved by the Legislature pass with strong bipartisan support, and many of those bills pass unanimously. But sometimes there are controversial and contentious proposals brought to us that result in disagreements and divided votes. One recent example is Senate Bill 5395, which would require every public school in Washington to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students as young as kindergartners. The bill was approved earlier this session by the Senate and on March 4 by the House of Representatives. The Senate – with a divided vote and after much debate – issued a final vote of approval on March 7. Click on these links to watch the recent House debate and Senate debate. I voted against the bill. As a former school board member for the North Central Educational Service District and the Eastmont School District, I believe our locally-elected school boards are in the best position to guide important community conversations about sex education instruction and make decisions about curriculum, with the input and support of parents, rather than a top-down approach from Olympia. Proponents of the bill argue that teens are sexually active and should receive important information about pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and AIDS. I certainly agree, but I believe the impacts of this bill will go far beyond these seemingly noncontroversial topics. You can read this recent Seattle Times story about the comprehensive sex ed bill, which describes the issue in detail and includes a quote from me. You can also listen to the portion of my interview a few weeks ago with KPQ that includes discussion of the sex education bill. To review a current list of OSPI reference materials on sex education, click here.

Sen. Hawkins reviews floor amendments

This photo shows me reviewing a packet of proposed Senate floor amendments. During last session’s debate on SB 5395, the comprehensive sex education bill, my proposed amendment – improving the opt-out provision for students – was the only amendment approved when the Senate passed this measure last year.

Hydropower tax incentives being considered

The House Finance Committee recently amended and approved my Senate Bill 6012, a renewable energy incentives bill that helps acknowledge hydropower’s important role in providing clean energy. Improved tax treatment for hydropower has been a key priority for 12th District legislators, our mid-Columbia PUDs, and many other hydropower owners throughout the state. The committee’s changes broaden the eligibility for the tax incentives in an effort to include hydroelectric projects owned by municipal utilities, private utilities, and public utilities. To qualify, the refurbishments would need to provide additional support for the transition toward the Clean Energy Transformation Act. My first version of Senate Bill 6012 was introduced last year as an effort to promote equal tax treatment between hydropower clean energy and non-hydro clean energy, such as wind and solar. I narrowed the bill earlier this session to advance it out of the Senate and to keep the bill moving, and I’m excited the bill has been broadened to pick up the support of more hydro stakeholders. The next major step in the legislative process is a vote by the House of Representatives and then what is known as a “concurrence vote” by the Senate. The bill’s revenue impacts – now approximately $5 million per biennium as amended by the House Finance Committee – must also be implemented in the final supplemental operating budget to be approved at the end of session. To learn more about my SB 6012, please click here.

Updated Wells Dam photo

My SB 6012 (renewable energy incentives) will help acknowledge hydropower’s role in providing clean energy by extending similar tax incentives to hydropower as the state provides other clean energy resources. The bill was approved by the Senate, funded in the Senate budget, and approved by a key House committee. It is now being considered by the House of Representatives.

Funding for Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center- community space improvements

I am very pleased to share that our district’s capital budget request of $275,000 in funding for community space improvements at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center will likely be funded in the final capital budget. As you may know, having access to adequate community meeting space is a growing concern for the Wenatchee Valley. The community has often relied upon the Wenatchee Valley Museum’s space for community conversations, forums, recitals, and other events. The museum has graciously hosted these important events and discussions, but the facility was not originally designed for such a purpose and is in need of various capital improvements. The funding that was in the House and Senate capital budgets is intended to make media, lighting, seating, and sound improvements and possibly include paying for the installation of an interior wall. I have enjoyed working closely with the museum’s executive director, Keni Sturgeon, and staff on this request along with my 12th District seatmates, Representatives Steele and Goehner. To learn more about this project, please click on this handout.

Wenatchee Valley Museum

The final capital budget will likely fund community space improvements at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, including media, lighting, seating, sound upgrades, and possibly an interior wall providing separated meeting space.

Apple license plate bill approved by Legislature

As you know, agriculture and Washington apples are a huge part of our 12th District and state economy. Washington produces over 100 million boxes of apples each year, shipping to domestic and international markets. This year is a very significant year for Washington apples with ongoing trade issues occurring internationally and the release of the newest apple variety, the Cosmic Crisp, which was developed in Wenatchee and is expected to be one of the very best. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Washington Apple Education Foundation, the charity developed by our local tree fruit industry. Special thanks to the Washington Apple Commission and the Washington Apple Education Foundation, which helped secure passage of the bill on its first try, one of only two license plate bills approved by the Legislature this session. You can watch the Senate Transportation Committee’s public hearing on SB 6032 by clicking this link and Apple Industry Interview Video. Also, to view the final approval of the bill by the House of Representatives, including floor speeches by Representative Goehner, Steele, and others, click here. While the specialty license plate looks fabulous and will most certainly fund a good cause, promoting the importance of our tree fruit industry to my legislative colleagues and raising awareness of current opportunities and challenges is the major benefit of the bill’s passage.

WA apple license plate design

My Senate Bill 6032, approved by the Legislature, will authorize a special license plate, designed by the Washington Apple Commission, to help promote our apple industry and raise funds for the Washington Apple Education Foundation.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews

Each week during the session, I call our local radio stations to participate in live interviews about the latest happenings in the legislative session. If you’d like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KPQKOHO, and KOZI .    

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District
E-mail: brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov 

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

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