2019 legislative actions

Like other state agencies, we evaluate, prioritize, and propose bills to the Washington Legislature. Environmental issues facing the state — along with our strategic priorities and budget requests — guide our proposed legislation.

The 2019 legislative session was successful for us. Many of our proposals to better meet the state's environmental needs were adopted by the Legislature. Our proposed bills that were approved are: Safe oil transportation, sustainable recycling, and voluntary cleanups. Find further details about the bills below.

Orca with head out of water in Puget Sound with Mt. Rainer in the background.

Governor's legislative and funding package to support orca recovery

Gov. Jay Inslee proposed several bills in the state Legislature to save southern resident orcas. Visit the governor's Medium account to learn about the bills that passed and our role.

Safe oil transportation to protect orcas

We can reduce threats to southern resident killer whales by improving the safety measures of oil transportation. This bill:

  • Requires tug escorts for smaller tank vessels that carry up to 7 million gallons of oil in Rosario Strait and waterways east, matching the current requirements for larger oil tankers.  
  • Calls for modeling and rulemaking to determine where else in Puget Sound tug escorts will reduce oil spill risk. 
  • Requires us to work collaboratively to study the viability and funding of an emergency response towing vessel to serve high-oil-traffic shipping lanes of Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, and Rosario Strait, similar to the existing Neah Bay emergency response towing vessel. 
Legislative outcome

Gov. Jay Inslee signed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1578 into law on May 8, 2019. It goes into effect July 27, 2019. Read the final version:

 

Why it matters Contact

Sustainable recycling

Contamination in our recycling stream has prompted serious restrictions on what recyclables the People’s Republic of China will import from Washington. This bill would:

  • Create a Recycling Development Center in Ecology. The center would incentivize new companies to process recyclable material and develop new, local markets for those materials.
  • Require local jurisdictions to develop and implement recycling Contamination Reduction and Outreach Plans for their communities, or use the state plan. These plans will be included in their local comprehensive solid waste management plans. 
  • Amend the waste reduction, recycling, and litter control account law to change the distribution of revenue from the litter tax. This funding supports the Recycling Development Center, the development of waste reduction and recycling programs, and education and outreach.   
Legislative outcome

Gov. Jay Inslee signed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1543 into law on April 29, 2019. It goes into effect July 27, 2019. Read the final version:

Why it matters Contact
Material collected for recycling.

Voluntary cleanup program

With today’s strong real estate market, our capacity to provide reviews of voluntary cleanups under our program has not kept pace with demand. This bill will:

  • Support and enhance our ability to provide timely technical assistance and opinions to owners of contaminated properties so those properties can be redeveloped.
  • Provide expedited reviews of voluntary cleanups to meet compressed schedules of real estate development projects.
  • Waive review costs when cleaned-up properties are redeveloped into affordable housing.
Legislative outcome

Gov. Jay Inslee​ signed Substitute House Bill into law on April 23, 2019. It goes into effect July 27, 2019. Read the final version:

Why it matters Contact

Bills that did not pass

Drought preparedness and response 

Modernizing Washington’s drought statutes is important to effectively prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. This bill would have:

  • Created tools and resources that help build long-term drought resiliency among water users and communities throughout the state.
  • Improved the state’s ability to effectively respond to drought in the short term.
  • Codified many of the best practices identified in the updated 2018 Washington State Drought Contingency Plan, which was developed collaboratively between eight state agencies.
Under-watered apple orchard during 2015 drought.
Legislative outcome

This proposed legislation did not gain enough support to pass out of the Legislature. We may pursue the legislation again in the 2020 session.

To read the bill language, visit the:

Why it matters Contact

Wood stove emissions standards and fee increase

New standards for wood stoves would reduce particulate pollution. Updating the fee would support wood stove education, stove swap-outs, and enforcement programs. This bill would have:

  • Increased solid fuel burning device retail fees from $30 to $50, and the current fee adjustment mechanism would be replaced with an annual adjustment using the state fiscal growth factor.
  • Updated solid fuel burning device standards to reflect technological advancements and align with the emissions performance for cleaner-burning wood stoves already being manufactured and sold in Washington.
  • Required both new and used wood stoves to meet state standards before installation.
Legislative outcome

This proposed legislation did not gain enough support to pass out of the Legislature. The bill will be considered again in the 2020 session. 

To read the bill language, visit the:

Why it matters Contact