Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Wrap-Up, May 2, 2019


May 2, 2019

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

The 2019 State Legislative Session began on January 14, 2019, and ran 105 consecutive days until April 28, 2019.

  • Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Updates are posted on the Partnership's website.
  • Find up-to-date legislative information online.
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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.


2019 Legislative Session Wraps on Time

The 2019 State Legislative session wrapped up on time on Sunday, April 28, 2019. This session was a major success for Puget Sound, salmon, and orca recovery. Here are the highlights:

  • The Legislature adopted an Operating Budget for the 2019-2021 Fiscal Biennium, which begins July 1, 2019. The budget includes an increase of over $4 million for the Puget Sound Partnership to pay for new scientific research, increased monitoring and accountability as recommended by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC), updating of salmon recovery plans, and support of the Vessel Work Group of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.

  • They also adopted a Capital Budget that includes $49,507,000 for Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR), which is the second largest appropriation in the history of the program. This appropriation will fund not only the $30 million base program of watershed priorities, but also three regionally significant large capital projects, including the Middle Fork Nooksack Fish Passage Project, the Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration, and the Riverbend Floodplain Restoration on the Cedar River.

  • The Capital Budget also includes $50.4 million for the Floodplains by Design program.

  • The Legislature passed all three policy bills requested by Governor Inslee to implement recommendations of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force, including:
    • An oil transportation safety bill, ESHB 1578,
    • A bill designed to increase chinook and other orca prey abundance, 2SHB 1579, and
    • A bill designed to reduce vessel noise and disturbance of orca, 2SSB 5577.

  • The Legislature also passed the toxic pollution prevention bill, SSB 5135, which will help implement another recommendation of the Task Force.


Operating Budget (OFM request): ESHB 1109

As enacted, the operating budget for the Puget Sound Partnership includes the following policy enhancements:

  • Puget Sound Scientific Research: $2,222,000 in ongoing funding and 1 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff are provided for a competitive, peer-reviewed process for soliciting, prioritizing, and funding research projects designed to advance scientific understanding of Puget Sound recovery. Solicitations and project selection for effectiveness monitoring will be organized and overseen by the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP). Initial projects will focus on implementation and effectiveness of Chinook recovery efforts, effectiveness of actions to restore shellfish beds, and implementation of priority studies of the Salish Sea marine survival project. Monitoring reports must be provided in context to the overall success and progress of Puget Sound recovery efforts.
  • Monitoring and Accountability: $1,000,000 in ongoing funding and 1.8 FTE staff are provided for evaluating ongoing monitoring and assessment of recovery actions, as well as solicitations and awards designed to fill monitoring gaps to evaluate progress toward recovery goals. Funding is also provided for the Partnership to evaluate the programs, actions and investments made by the various organizations related to Puget Sound recovery. This evaluation is based on the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to increase accountability and effectiveness across the network of recovery partners.
  • Restore Puget Sound Salmon Runs: $500,000 in one-time funding and 0.6 FTE staff are provided for coordinating updates to the outdated Puget Sound chinook salmon recovery plan, provide support for adaptive management of local watershed chapters, and advance regional work on salmon and ecosystem recovery through Local Integrating Organizations.
  • Southern Resident Orca Task Force - Vessel Workgroup Support: $326,000 in one-time funding and 1.2 FTE staff are provided for support to the Southern Resident Orca Task Force vessel workgroup responsible for researching and recommending actions necessary to reduce the damaging effects of vessel noise and disturbance on Southern Resident Orca.


Capital Budget (OFM request): SHB 1102

As enacted in Substitute HB 1102, the 2019-21 Capital Budget includes the following Puget Sound recovery-related appropriations:

NOTE: Appropriations that implement recommendations of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force are identified in parentheses.


Restoring and Protecting Habitat and Promoting Chinook Abundance

  • Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Program – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendations 1 & 2)
    • $49.5 million to enable the Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) to provide grants to projects that protect and restore the most critical salmon habitats in Puget Sound. It includes funding for:
      • Watershed level priorities throughout the Puget Sound region
      • #1-ranked Middle Fork Nooksack Fish Passage
      • #2-ranked Dungeness River Floodplain Restoration
      • #3-ranked Riverbend Floodplain Restoration
    • Puget Sound Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP) – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendations 1 & 2)
      • $10 million to enable RCO to provide grants to protect and restore the nearshore ecosystems of Puget Sound
    • Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB)(Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendations 1 & 2)
      • $25 million in state funding & authorization to spend up to $50 million in federal funding for habitat projects and other activities that result in sustainable and measurable benefits for salmon and other fish species. State funding is required to match federal funding for salmon recovery projects.
    • Fish passage barrier removal(Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 1)
      • Brian Abbot Fish Barrier Removal Board $26.5 million
      • Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP) $5 million
      • Transportation Budget$100 million for Washington State Department of Transportation’s fish passage barrier removal projects
    • Floodplains by Design – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendations 1 & 5)
      • $50.4 million for the statewide program to enable the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to provide grants for projects that improve flood protection, restore salmon habitat, improve water quality, and enhance outdoor recreation
    • Watershed restoration and enhancement projects
      • $40 million for Ecology to provide grants as part of the Hirst compromise from 2018.
    • CREP Riparian Funding(Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 5)
      • $3.7 million to enable the State Conservation Commission (SCC) to provide incentives for landowners to set aside riparian buffers that protect water quality
    • Forest Riparian Easement Program (FREP) - (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendations 5)
      • $2.5 million for Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
    • Rivers & Habitat Open Space Program (RHOSP) – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 5)
      • $1 million for DNR
    • Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP) match – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 1)
      • $7.8 million for Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to provide state match for federal and state shares of costs for the ecosystem-based estuary restoration projects at three sites: Duckabush Estuary, North Fork Skagit River Delta and Nooksack River Delta as identified by the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP). This project will be implemented in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers over the next 10-18 years
    • Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP)
      • $85 million for statewide to provide grants for critical wildlife habitat, riparian areas, and agricultural land.

Preventing Toxic Pollution

  • Stormwater Financial Assistance Program(Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 31)
    • $44 million for the Department of Ecology to provide grants to local governments for projects that prevent stormwater pollution.
  • Chemical Action Plans (CAP) – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 30)
    • $3.7 million for Ecology to implement Chemical Action Plans
  • Centennial Clean Water Fund
    • $30 million to Ecology
  • Water Pollution Control Revolving Program – (Southern Resident Orca Task Force Recommendation 31)
    • $204 million to Ecology

New Revenue proposals

New revenue bills that passed

ESSB 5993 - Reforming the financial structure of the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) program. Fiscal impact: Not yet determined. Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.

Summary of ESSB 5993 as enacted:

  • The Hazardous Substance Tax (HST) is changed from a value-based tax on petroleum products to a volumetric tax with a rate of $1.09 per 42-gallon barrel. The tax rate for non-petroleum products is not changed.
  • Existing MTCA accounts are repealed and replaced with an Operating Account that will receive 60% of the revenue, a Capital Account that will receive 25 % of the revenue, and a Stormwater Account that will receive 15% of the revenue. Use of the funds is restricted to specified MTCA-related purposes.
  • $50 million per biennium is deposited in the Motor Vehicle Fund to be used exclusively for transportation stormwater programs until transportation revenue increases by $2 billion attributable to an additive transportation funding act.
  • The Department of Revenue must compile a list of petroleum products that are not easily measured on a per barrel basis. Petroleum products on this list are subject to the 0.7 percent tax on the wholesale value.
  • Beginning July 1, 2020, and each July 1st thereafter, the volumetric portion of the HST will be adjusted by the implicit price deflator for nonresidential construction.


SB 5997 - Eliminating or narrowing certain tax preferences to increase state revenue for essential public services by $53,924,000 for the 2017-19 Biennium. Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


SB 5998 - Establishing a graduated real estate excise tax that will generate $244.5 million for the 2019-21 Biennium. Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


Proposed new revenue bills that did not pass

HB 1228/SB 5130) - Increasing transportation revenues through a Graduated Real Estate Excise Tax to help fund state fish barrier removal. Introduced by Office of Financial Management request. - Status: Did not pass.


HB 1708/SB 5692 – Concerning recreational fishing and hunting licenses. (By DFW agency request) – Would have increased fees for recreational hunting and fishing licenses, tags, and endorsements, and extended the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement through 2023. The original bill would have generated $14.3 million for the State Wildlife Account and $3 million for the Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement Program. Status: Did not pass.


HB 2122 - Imposing a sales and use tax on recreational equipment and apparel to provide funding to the state wildlife account. – Status: Did not pass.


SB 5971 - Concerning transportation funding – This bill would have established a carbon pollution fee to generate revenue for, among other things, stormwater pollution prevention and removal of fish passage barriers. Status: Did not pass

Legislation related to Southern Resident orca recovery

Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety to Protect Southern Resident orcas

ESHB 1578 - Reducing threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety of oil transportation. Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


Summary of bill as passed by both houses:

  • Specifies tug escort requirements for large oil tankers (40,000 to 125,000 deadweight tons) operating in Puget Sound.
  • Specifies tug escort requirements for smaller oil tankers (5,000 to 40,000 deadweight tons) and other vessels designed to transport crude oil or petroleum products operating in Rosario Strait and connected waterways, beginning September 1, 2020.
  • Requires the Board of Pilotage Commissioners to adopt rules for tug escorts in Puget Sound, by December 31, 2025.


Increasing Prey Abundance for Southern Resident orcas

2SHB 1579 - Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance.

Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


Summary of bill as passed by both houses:

  • Authorizes a recreational fishing license for smelt and requires the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to liberalize catch limits for bass, walleye, and channel catfish.
  • Updates the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (DFW) ­­­­jurisdiction related to hydraulic project approvals.
    • Creates a hydraulic project pre-application for project applicants to determine if a permit is required.
    • Authorizes DFW to serve stop work orders for violations of hydraulic project approvals that may cause significant harm to fish life.
    • Changes the civil penalty for violations of the hydraulic code from $100 per day per violation to $10,000 per violation if a section authorizing three demonstration projects to test the effectiveness and costs of river management is enacted by June 30, 2019.
    • Removes the requirement that DFW issue permits within 45 days and with or without conditions for single-family residential bulkheads and rock walls.


Reducing Vessel Noise and Disturbance of Southern Resident orcas

2SSB 5577 - Concerning the protection of Southern Resident Orca whales from disturbance by vessels.

Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


Summary of bill as passed by both houses:

  • Increases the distance within which a vessel or other object may not approach a Southern Resident orca whale (orca).
  • Establishes a speed limit of 7 knots within one-half of a nautical mile of an orca.
  • Establishes commercial whale watching and alternate operator licenses, sets fees for the licenses, and requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to implement and report on the license program.
  • Directs the DFW to convene an independent science panel to analyze the most current and best available science regarding noise impacts to orcas by small vessels and whale watching vessels.
  • Requires DFW to adopt rules for commercial whale watch license holders regarding viewing of Southern Resident orcas in inland waters of Washington, by January 1, 2021.
  • Provides for criminal penalties for violation of newly established whale watching rules.
  • Requires the topic of sustainable whale watching to be included in the statewide tourism marketing plan.


Toxic Pollution Prevention

SSB 5135 - Preventing toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment.

Status: Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.

Summary of bill as passed by both houses:

  • Directs the Department of Ecology (ECY) to identify priority ­­consumer products that are a significant source of or use priority chemicals—as defined in statute—by June 1, 2020.
  • Directs the ECY to—every five years—identify five additional priority ­­chemicals and priority consumer products that are a significant source of or contain those priority chemicals, with the first process beginning June 1, 2024.
  • Directs the ECY to take regulatory actions with respect to priority consumer products containing priority chemicals, including restricting or prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or use of a priority chemical in a priority consumer product, or requiring a manufacturer to disclose certain information about the use of a priority chemical in a priority consumer product. Provides for public notice and comment and legislative review of new regulations before they take effect.
  • Authorizes the ECY to require manufacturers to provide certain information about their use of a chemical to support the identification of priority consumer products containing priority chemicals.
  • Provides for civil penalties for manufacturer violations of newly established rules.

Other bills the Partnership monitored

ESSB 5322/HB 1261 – Ensuring compliance with the federal clean water act by prohibiting certain discharges into waters of the state. This legislation would prohibit motorized or gravity siphon aquatic mining or discharge of effluent from such an activity within the ordinary high water mark of certain waters of the state.

Status: Did not pass.


SB 5404 – Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects. Fish habitat enhancement projects restoring native kelp and eelgrass beds, and restoring native oysters, may qualify for a streamlined administrative review and approval process.

Status:  Passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.


SB 5489/HB2009 - Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities. Aka: “Healthy Environment for All” (HEAL) – This legislation was intended to promote environmental justice.

Status: Did not pass.


SB 5505 - Addressing the use of local stormwater charges paid by the Department of Transportation.

  • Requires that local government utilities that charge stormwater fees to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) may use the fees only for stormwater control facilities and best management practices that directly address runoff from state highways as opposed to all types of stormwater runoff.
  • Requires local government utilities to provide an expenditure plan and annual progress report before receiving the WSDOT stormwater fees.
  • The fiscal impact of the legislation is yet to be determined, but likely will result in significant revenue losses for local governments. Based on conversations with local governments, these revenue losses could be anywhere between 50-to-100 percent of their current WSDOT funds.

Status:  Passed by the Legislature and delivered to the Governor.


SB 5873 – Concerning community forests – As introduced, this legislation would have created the Community Forest Grant Program and Community Forestland Account, and authorized state and local agencies, tribes, and qualified nonprofit organizations to apply for funds for the acquisition, development, and restoration activities of community forest projects.

Status: Did not pass.