Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Wrap-up, March 16, 2018



March 16, 2018


The Puget Sound Partnership's Legislative Update highlights issues related to our region's work to protect and recover Puget Sound.

  • The 90-day 2018 regular Legislative Session ended March 8, 2018.
  • Puget Sound Legislative Updates are posted on the Partnership's website.
  • View the Puget Sound Partnership's 2018 Legislative Agenda.
  • Connect with the Puget Sound Partnership for breaking news and other events affecting Puget Sound on Twitter @PSPartnership and Facebook @PugetSoundPartnership.

If you have questions or concerns about the legislative priorities for the Puget Sound Partnership, please contact: Jeff Parsons, Legislative Policy Director, 360.999.3803.

2018 Legislative Session concludes

The gavel fell on adjournment sine die for the 2018 Legislative Session, right on schedule, late in the evening of March 8.

Sine die is Latin, and means that a day is not assigned for further meeting. It signifies the end of Legislative Session each year.


2018 Session Productive for Puget Sound

Throughout the 2018 Legislative Session, the Puget Sound Partnership tracked the progress of many bills that could, if passed, affect the progress of Puget Sound recovery. Legislation delivered to Governor Inslee for signing, as well as some bills that didn’t make it, are summarized below.

Supplemental operating and capital budgets include funding that benefits Puget Sound recovery

Earlier in the session, the Legislature passed the 2017–2019 Capital Budget, as reported in the January 28 Legislative Update. Passage of the Supplemental Operating and Capital Budgets were among the Legislature’s final actions before sine die.


The Puget Sound-related components of the 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget bill, as passed by the Legislature, include the more generous funding levels proposed by the Senate for orca recovery and oil transportation safety. Aspects of the bill that relate to Puget Sound recovery include the following.

Puget Sound Partnership Federal Spending Authority

  • $2.232 million in federal funding authorized for expenditure by the Partnership. The authorization also permits the addition of two full-time staff.

Southern Resident Orca Recovery

$1.5 million to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for the recovery of Southern Resident orca, to include the following:

  • $76,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and $472,000 for FY 2019 are provided solely for WDFW to increase enforcement of vessel traffic near orca whales, especially commercial and recreational whale watchers and shipping, and to reduce underwater noise levels that interfere with orcas’ feeding and communication. While the patrol focus is to be on orca whale protection when the animals are present, nothing prohibits responses to emergent public safety or in-progress poaching incidents. In the event that orca whales are not present, emphasis will be placed on patrols that protect living marine resources in northern Puget Sound.
  • $837,000 for WDFW to increase hatchery production of key prey species fish throughout Puget Sound, the coast, and the Columbia River. The WDFW is required to work with the Governor, federal partners, tribal co-managers, the hatchery scientific review group, and other interested parties to develop a biennial hatchery production plan by December 31, 2018. Requirements of the plan include the following:
    • Identify, within hatchery standards and endangered species act constraints, hatchery programs and specific facilities to contribute to the dietary needs of orca whales
    • Consider prey species preferences and migratory patterns of orca whales
    • Include adaptive management provisions to ensure the conservation and enhancement of wild stocks.
    • The final plan will be reviewed by the hatchery scientific review group and submitted to the appropriate committees of the Legislature.
  • $115,000 for an interagency agreement with the Office of Financial Management for facilitation services and support for the governor's efforts to develop a long-term action plan for orca whale recovery.

Early Marine Steelhead Survival Study

  • $790,000 to WDFW to complete a final phase of the early marine steelhead survival study, which tests management strategies and develops a plan to reduce mortality rates and improve survival.

Oil Transportation Safety

  • $1.143 million to the Department of Ecology (Ecology) for implementing E2SSB 6269 to strengthen oil transportation safety.
  • $81,000 to Ecology for rule-making and other implementation costs of Chapter 239, Laws of 2017 (short line railroad).
  • $4.72 million ($1.75 million for FY 2018 and $2.97 million for FY 2019) authorized for transfer from the Oil Spill Response Account to the Oil Spill Prevention Account

Study of Trail-based Activities

  • $125,000 for the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to conduct or contract a study of the economic and health benefits of trail-based activities, including hiking, walking, and bicycling.



As passed by the Legislature, the 2018 Supplemental Capital Budget bill includes the following increases in funding related to Puget Sound health and orca recovery:

  • Adds $11.4 million to the $25 million previously appropriated to Ecology for the Stormwater Financial Assistance Program for the 2017–2019 Of this amount, $10 million is provided “solely for grants for stormwater retrofit projects consistent with the immediate actions and recommendations developed by the Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery efforts that reduce stormwater pollutants in areas where Southern Resident Killer Whales are regularly present.”
  • Adds $825,000 to the $2 million previously appropriated to WDFW for “Minor Works—Programmatic,” earmarking up to $300,000 for WDFW to “review state hatcheries to identify opportunities to increase salmon production with a focus on the needs of the Southern Resident Killer Whale;” up to $30,000 for “the installation of 15 new fish screens to support Southern Resident orca recovery;” and up to $665,000 for “hatchery improvements to increase Chinook production to support the Southern Resident orca recovery.”

The budget bill earmarks a portion of the $20 million appropriated in the 2017–2019 Capital Budget for watershed restoration and enhancement projects under the Hirst water availability compromise as follows:

  • $2.5 million for the Dungeness off-channel reservoir, including transaction-related expenses by the Department of Natural Resources
  • $900,000 for the Methow Valley piping, pressurization, and conveyance system consolidation project
  • $3 million for the Colville River watershed plan update and water resource mitigation and enhancement project

The budget bill also appropriates $2.5 million for “Skagit Water” to be allocated as follows:

  • $500,000 of the appropriation is provided solely for the Department of Agriculture, WDFW, and Ecology to jointly pursue studies to evaluate instream flow needs and existing and future out-of-stream water use demands within Skagit River Water Resource Inventory Area 4 (Upper Skagit) regulated by Chapter 173-503 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). These studies must be completed and reported to the appropriate legislative committees and task force by December 1, 2019. These studies must be based on the best available science and peer-reviewed by those with demonstrated instream flow expertise.
  • $2 million for studies identified by the Joint Legislative Task Force on Water Supply established in this bill.

The budget bill appropriates $75,000 to Ecology to convene and facilitate a stakeholder process to review and make recommendations for the statutory authorizations and improvements of the Floodplains by Design grant program. This review must include an analysis of the statewide funding needs:

  • Program design, including criteria, information, and coordination required for projects to proceed through the selection and funding processes in a transparent and efficient manner
  • Mechanisms to improve efficiency and transparency of project funding and implementation
  • Ecology may convene stakeholders and facilitate activities as needed. Ecology must take the following actions:
  • Develop recommendations in consultation with the Partnership
  • Seek input and meaningfully involve a broad base of tribal governments and interested stakeholders, including city and county governments, and agricultural, flood risk reduction, and conservation interests.
  • Seek broad and diverse legislative input and invite interested legislators to provide information and ideas including, at a minimum, the majority and minority leadership of the committees responsible for the capital budget in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The final report must include recommended statutory and policy changes to the appropriate committees of the Legislature on or before December 1, 2018.

Finally, the budget bill appropriates $100,000 to the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) for a study that identifies recreational assets of statewide significance, where gaps in recreational assets exist, and investment strategies and options for addressing those gaps. The study must address existing and projected future needs of the people of Washington State. RCO must submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by June 30, 2019.


Legislation relating to Puget Sound recovery passes


  • SB 6269—Oil transportation safety

About 40 percent of the oil coming into Washington state arrives by pipeline, but it is not currently subject to the barrel tax that helps pay for Ecology’s oil spills program, even though a spill from a pipeline could have devastating consequences to the environment. Ecology’s oil spills program has a long history of unstable, unsustainable one-time funding, and the barrel tax has never fully paid for the oil spills program.

This bill expands the scope of the Oil Spill Administration Tax and Oil Spill Response Tax to include oil received by pipeline. It requires Ecology to complete reports on vessel traffic in Puget Sound and the funding of activities carried out by Ecology’s oil spills program, and it establishes a forum to examine certain maritime safety measures in cross-boundary waters shared with British Columbia. The bill also amends the requirements of the oil spill contingency plans that facilities and vessels must develop and of the oil spill response drills that must be conducted to test those contingency plans.

Passed the Senate 42 to 7; passed the House 62 to 35


  • HB 2957—Non-native finfish aquaculture

The bill prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from issuing or renewing any leases, or otherwise authorizing the use of state-owned aquatic lands for non-native finfish aquaculture. The bill prohibits Ecology and WDFW from authorizing or permitting any activities related to non-native finfish aquaculture after the expiration date of existing lands leases. It also directs the departments of Ecology, Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Fish and Wildlife to update existing guidance and resources on planning for and permitting commercial marine net pen aquaculture.

Passed the House 67 to 31; passed the Senate 31 to 16

  • HB 2285—Marbled murrelet reports

The bill directs the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report to the Legislature about the marbled murrelet habitat conservation plan on state lands. The report must, among other things, quantify the effects of habitat conservation on rural economies. The bill directs the Commissioner of Public Lands to appoint a marbled murrelet advisory committee to help with the report.

The marbled murrelet was listed by the USFWS in 1992 as a threatened species in California, Oregon, and Washington. In 1997 the DNR entered into a Habitat Conservation Plan for the marbled murrelet that set aside 583,000 acres of state trust lands in Western Washington. The current proposed HCP amendment would set aside an additional approximately 35,000 acres, with significant job consequences in the affected communities.

Passed the House 54 to 43; passed the Senate 35 to 14, amended; the House concurred 53 to 45


  • HB 2634—Antifouling paints

The bill extends several prohibitions on the use and sale of copper-based antifouling paints to January 1, 2021, and directs Ecology to produce a report that summarizes the environmental impacts of antifouling paints and their ingredients, makes recommendations for safer alternatives, and makes recommendations for the development of regulatory standards for antifouling paint. Antifouling paint is primarily needed in salt water to prevent biotic growth on boat hulls.

Passed the House 98 to 0; passed the Senate 49 to 0

  • HB 2658—Concerning the use of perfluorinated chemicals in food packaging.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals  are characterized by their resistance to oil, stains, grease, and water, as well as their durability, heat resistance, and anti-corrosive properties. The Department of Ecology has also identified PFAS chemicals as toxic substances that stay in the environment a long time and accumulate in the tissues of organisms that consume them. Tests have found that PFAS chemicals are pervasive in the environment and are in most human bodies. The PFAS chemicals in food packaging can contaminate compost and drinking water. Recent studies indicated that for commercially manufactured compost, food packaging is a major source of PFAS chemicals, and PFAS chemicals in compost are sufficiently concentrated that plants would uptake them from the soil.

The bill conditionally restricts the inclusion of PFAS chemicals in specific applications of food packaging beginning as early as 2022, pending the outcome of an alternatives assessment to be completed by Ecology by January 1, 2020.

Passed the House 56 to 41; passed the Senate 30 to 17

  • SB 6413—Firefighting/toxic chemicals

The bill requires the presence of PFAS chemicals in firefighting personal protective equipment to be disclosed at the time of sale, beginning July 1, 2018. It restricts the manufacture, distribution, and sale of foam designed for flammable liquid fires that contains PFAS chemicals, beginning July 1, 2020. It directs the Department of Ecology to help other state agencies and local governments to avoid buying firefighting foam that contain PFAS chemicals and to give priority and preference to the purchase of firefighting personal protective equipment that does not contain PFAS chemicals. The bill prohibits the use, for training purposes, of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals, beginning July 1, 2018.

Passed the Senate 39 to 8; passed the House, amended 72 to 26; Senate concurred 48 to 1

  • HB 2298—Wastewater operator cert

The bill raises the Wastewater Treatment Plant certification fee enough to make up for an annual $345,000 annual deficit to the program, which is managed by the Department of Ecology. The program, which ensures that operators meet certification standards and stay current, certifies about 2,000 operators at about 265 wastewater treatment plants statewide. The certification helps to prevent accidental spills of untreated sewage into the state’s waters, including Puget Sound. The bill would ensure that the program is fully funded by operator fees, and would end funding the program out of the Water Quality Account.

Passed the House 94 to 0; passed the Senate 33 to 16

  • SB 6207—Clarifying the authority of port districts to offer programs relating to air quality improvement equipment and fuel programs that provide emission reductions for engines, vehicles, and vessels.

The bill modifies the authority of a port district to maintain and operate pollution control facilities (PCFs) by expanding the definition of PCFs to include programs and activities that are intended to reduce air pollution from vehicles used in transport to, from, or within district facilities; and cargo vessels used within the district. The bill deems the use of port district funds for PCFs to be a public necessity for promoting cleaner air.

The Puget Sound Air Quality Vital Sign addresses the status of air quality across Puget Sound. A foundation of human wellbeing is breathing fresh air. In the Puget Sound, sources of air quality degradation include vehicle emissions, industrial emissions, and burning wood and debris.

Passed the Senate 47 to 0; passed the House 63 to 35

  • SB 6437—Abandoned RV disposal

Abandoned recreational vehicles have become an environmental issue statewide. Many contain hazardous chemicals as a result of being used as methamphetamine laboratories. It is important to remove these abandoned vehicles from the environment, but it is also expensive to do so. The biennial transportation budget authorized a work group to look at this issue and this bill is based on the work group's recommendations. The bill includes a $6 fee used specifically to address this problem. It also establishes a program within the Department of Licensing for reimbursing costs associated with disposing of abandoned recreational vehicles.

Passed the Senate 41 to 4; passed the House, amended, 76 to 22; the Senate concurred 46 to 3

  • SB 6159 – Underground storage tank program

The bill extends the expiration date for the state Underground Storage Tank (UST) program from 2019 to 2029. The Department of Ecology regulates and inspects USTs that store petroleum and other hazardous substances. The purpose of Ecology's UST program is to reduce the number and severity of releases of petroleum and other hazardous substances into the environment. Ecology regulates more than 9,000 USTs at more than 3,300 facilities statewide, including gas stations, other commercial and industrial facilities, and government-owned facilities. The program was originally authorized in 1989 and has been extended twice under the Sunset Act. The program is currently set to terminate on July 1, 2019.

Passed the Senate 47 to 0; passed the House 98 to 0, amended; the Senate concurred 49 to 0


  • SJM (Senate Joint Memorial) 8008—Ask Congress to reform the Harbor Maintenance Tax.

A 2012 report by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) studied the movement of containerized cargo through Canadian and Mexican seaports to investigate the possible diversion of cargo away from U.S. West Coast ports due to the Harbor Maintenance Tax. The report estimated that up to 26.7 percent of container volume for the U.S. West Coast ports of Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland was at risk of being diverted to Canadian ports. The FMC report further found that up to half of the U.S. bound containers coming into Canada's West Coast ports could revert to using U.S. West Coast ports if U.S. importers were relieved from paying the HMT. While the HMT is a federal issue over which the state has no control, SJM 8008 provides an avenue for the state to ask Congress to reform the HMT.

Passed the Senate 47 to 1; passed the House 98 to 0


Significant legislation relating to Puget Sound recovery fails to pass

Orca Protection Act

After being passed by the Senate and the House Appropriations Committees, ESSB 5886, “Creating the Orca Protection Act,” failed to be scheduled for floor action by the House Rules Committee. The bill would have accomplished the following:

  • Directed WDFW to conduct marine-based education and enforcement patrols.
  • Restricted aircraft and vessels from approaching Southern Resident orcas within 200 yards and also restricted vessels from exceeding 7 knots within 400 yards of a Southern Resident orca. A restriction on drones was removed by floor amendment. Another adopted floor amendment exempted from penalties people who make reasonable efforts to comply with distance restrictions, but are approached by a Southern Resident orca.
  • Required a study on the effects of human-generated marine noise on orca.
  • Required that Washington state and British Columbia representatives meet to coordinate orca recovery strategies.
  • Increased the initial and renewal fee for an endangered wildlife special license plate by $5.

Carbon Tax

Lacking the votes needed to pass, P2SSB 6203Reducing carbon pollution by moving to a clean energy economy – was referred back to the Senate Rules Committee. The bill would have accomplished the following:

  • Imposed a carbon pollution tax equal to $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions on the sale or use of fossil fuels within Washington state and the generation or import of electricity in Washington generated by using fossil fuels.
  • Increased the tax rate by $1.80 per metric ton, beginning July 1, 2021, until reaching $30 per metric ton of carbon dioxide.
  • Directed the carbon tax revenues to be distributed into four accounts for activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions connected to energy use and other activity in Washington; provided assistance to vulnerable communities and workers in fossil fuel industries; increased climate resilience; and supported rural economic development.
  • Establishes a Clean Energy Investment Program for both investor-owned utilities and consumer-owned utilities to allow an electric or gas utility to claim a credit of up to 100 percent against the carbon tax for approved investment in projects that reduce or offset carbon emissions from the utility.

Onsite septic systems

After passage by the House and the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee, the full Senate did not act on HB 2420 , establishing requirements related to State Board of Health rules addressing the repair and inspections of onsite sewage systems. The bill would have accomplished the following:

  • Addressed failing onsite sewage systems. The Board of Health rules would have been required to:
    • Give first priority to repairing and second priority to replacing an existing conventional onsite sewage system.
    • Not impose more stringent performance requirements of equivalent onsite sewage systems on private entities than public entities.
    • Allow repair of an onsite sewage system using the least expensive alternatives that met standards and was likely to provide comparable or better long-term sewage treatment and effluent dispersal outcomes.
  • Addressed inspections of onsite sewage systems. The Board of Healthy rules would have had to:
    • Require coordination between the owner and certified professional inspector or public agency before accessing the onsite sewage system.
    • Require authorization by the onsite sewage system owner for inspection by a certified inspector or public agency unless the local health jurisdiction obtained an administrative search warrant following existing procedures.
    • Forbid local health jurisdictions from conditioning onsite sewage system permits with requirements for inspections or maintenance easements of onsite sewage systems located on a single property servicing a single dwelling.