This week, State Legislators convened in Olympia for the start of the 2018 legislative session. Being an even numbered year, this will be the short 60 day session, rather than the 105 day session of odd numbered years. There are a number of important issues that will be considered, including several bills that are important for our ocean, waves and beaches as well as the Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition. Below is a run down on a few of the issues, and ways to help you as a citizen find your voice in the important legislative process.
The Washington State Legislature is a bicameral body with 49 members in the Senate and 98 members in the House of Representatives. Each district is served by one Senator and two House members. Not sure who your legislators are? You can find them here.
This year, Surfrider Washington Chapters will be working on supporting legislation to phase out Atlantic Salmon net pens, as well as the oil spill prevention act. Additionally, we will be keeping our ear to the ground for any bills that attempt to weaken ocean and coastal protections. If you’re interested in getting involved in the legislative process, we are here to help you! Whether it’s picking up the phone, writing an email, testifying on a bill, or participating in a constituent meeting with one of your Reps or Senator, Gus in his role as the Surfrider Policy Manager, and Brice in his role as the Field Manager can help you find your voice, provide talking points, and serve as a liaison with your legislators.
Washington Environmental Priorities Coalition: The Environmental Priorities Coalition is made up of more than 20 statewide organizations working to safeguard our environment and the health of our communities in the legislature, and Surfrider Foundation is a member.
Recognizing the need for action at the state level, the Environmental Priorities Coalition adopted four priorities for the 2018 Legislative Session for progress towards a better future in Washington.
In 2017 we endured devastating wildfires, water shortages, flooding catastrophes, sea level rise, and ocean acidification, and 2018 is the year where we can take make urgently needed progress on addressing climate change and keep Washington competitive in a global clean energy economy.
The Environmental Priorities Coalition are pursuing four bold priorities in the legislature this year. Sign up to be part of the Rapid Response Team.
- Act on Climate: We are already seeing the impacts of climate change, and the fossil fuel industry is dedicated to undoing years of progress. As a state, we can lead in climate action by charging polluters and reinvesting those dollars in clean energy and protecting natural resources. This session, we have the opportunity to make progress and discover what is possible when we prioritize climate-friendly solutions.
- Sustainable Water Management: Homeowners, fish, and farms need reliable clean water, and it is time for our state to address its water management system, which has been broken for years. With careful planning and resources, we can implement laws that prevent the loss of a finite resource.
- Action for Toxic-Free Food Packaging: Scientists have identified toxic chemicals used in popcorn, fast food, bakery wrappers, and a variety of other food packages. This raises serious concerns as these chemicals are already polluting our water bodies and Puget Sound. Safer alternatives are available and the Healthy Food Packaging Act addresses this dangerous threat to our health and environment.
- Oil Spill Prevention Act: Our state is falling behind in applying preventative measures to protect Puget Sound, the Salish Sea, and shared waters against oil spills. Washington communities are vulnerable to oil spills from pipelines, trains, and vessels. The dangers will only grow, and our ability to clean up will only decline. The Oil Spill Prevention Act ensures an investment the safety of our state.
For the first time ever, the coalition has also adopted a Partnership Agenda to support the work being led by partners outside the coalition and that are important for environmental progress. The inaugural Partnership Agenda items are the WA Voting Rights Act (HB 1800, SB 5267), Preventable Pesticide Drift Exposure (HB 1564), Solar Fairness Act (SB 6081), and Presumptive Disease for Firefighters.