Tag Archives: SB 5148

Gillnet Ban Dies In Olympia, But Some Fish-Wildlife Bills Still Kicking

The Olympia Outsider™ has been taking his name very literally, soaking up some serious ray-age the past few days, but back indoors Washington lawmakers have been busy girls and boys in the halls of power, amending, debating and voting on all sorts of bills.

(THE INTERWEBS)

While some fish and wildlife bills are still moving along smartly, other major pieces of legislation don’t appear to have escaped last week’s cutoff to get out of their chamber of origin.

May we have a moment of silence for:

Senate Bill 5617, the statewide nontribal gillnet phaseout. Not that it ever had a chance in the House, but on its first drift this bill netted a whopping 24 then 27 cosponsors — more votes than it even needed to get it out of the upper chamber! all but assuring passage! pack up your nets, NT comms! — but then it was pared back to just the Columbia, then three cosponsors somehow wriggled out of the webbing, and then somebody must’ve thrown some haybales into the Senate because this bill sank way out of sight before ever getting a hearing before Ways and Means.

House Bill 1824, directing WDFW to apply to NOAA for a permit to take out the maximum number of sea lions to increase salmon survival to benefit orcas. Anglers might have been ready to lock and load this bill out of the House, but while there was no opposition, WDFW signed in as “other” on this bill, because, well, it is a bit more complicated than that and I’ll just let the agency’s Nate Pamplin explain why that is starting at the 16:58-minute mark.

NOW, OLYMPIA IS A FUNNY PLACE, and not just because its name can be rearranged to Oily Map and Mayo Lip. In similarly slippery fashion, some bills that don’t meet deadlines aren’t necessarily dead-dead.

Those that can help set the state budget but didn’t hit cutoffs can still technically be “slightly alive,” in the words of my colleague Miracle Max.

Trying to sort this year’s “only mostly dead” bills, I called the Legislative Hotline in hopes they had a master list of NTIB, or necessary to implement the budget, bills, but sadly they hadn’t received anything along those lines from lawmakers yet.

Still, last week, a key source at WDFW informed me that based on what they were hearing several key bills were dead for the session, but we’re categorizing them as “mostly dead” just to be on the super-safe side.

HB 2122, the tiny tax on big-ticket recreational gear and clothing to help fund WDFW’s wildlife management. No sooner did a bipartisan coalition of urban and rural lawmakers propose the two-tenths of 1 percent tax on tents, rain jackets and certain other goods over $200 than one of those huge-ass firefighting jetliners must’ve come in real low and doused that campfire right the hell out because very little has been written about it. Still, an Audubon Washington update earlier this month lists it as a “conversation starter this legislative session.” Under it, license-holding sportsmen would be exempt because we already gladly contribute more than our fair share because we are awesome and other nature lovers could learn from our example.

HB 1662/SB 5696 would change the way WDFW compensates counties for the million or so acres it has taken off local tax rolls to match how DNR does it. During public hearings literally nobody opposed this important change to the PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, program proposed by a number of lawmakers from parts of the state rich with state wildlife areas (and where ideally more lands are purchased from willing sellers), so it’s puzzling why it didn’t advance further. Aliens could be to blame — the Senate version was placed in the “X File” … which actually means it’s “no longer eligible for consideration,” though even then it could be plucked out of the ether should some lawmaker need it for a little leverage with another.

HB 1230, which would broaden eligibility of disabled sportsmen who could get discounted licenses. Another bill with literally no opposition but just couldn’t get out of the House. What. The. Hell?

YET DESPITE THOSE UNTIMELY DEATHS as well as the possible but not fully finally Miracle Max-confirmed deaths, other critter bills are still grazing/swimming/prowling along in Olympia, including:

HB 2097, gray wolf status review, passed House 98-0, referred to Senate ag-natural resources committee;

SB 5148, hunter pink, passed Senate 48-0-0-1 (yes-no-abstain-absent), referred to House ag-natural resources committee and scheduled for an executive session today.

HB 1061, designating the razor clam as the state clam, passed the House 98-0, scheduled for a hearing in the Senate government and tribal relations committee March 27.

HB 1187, streamlining approval of conservation districts’ fish passage improvement projects, passed House 96-0-0-2, referred to Senate ag-natural resources committee;

HB 1579, hydraulic code enforcement and Chinook habitat, passed House 59-39, scheduled for a hearing before Senate ag-natural resources committee today;

HB 1580 / SB 5577, addressing SRKW watching from boats, watered down and passed by the House 78-20, referred to Senate ag-natural resources committee and scheduled for a public hearing tomorrow;

HB 1516, training hounds for nonlethal pursuit of predators, passed House 96-0-0-2, scheduled for a hearing before Senate ag-natural resources committee today;

SB 5322, essentially bars suction and other motorized mining in critical salmon habitat, passed Senate 30-17-0-2, had hearing before House environment committee last week;

SB 5404, adds eel grass and kelp beds to streamlined reviews for fish enhancement project funding, passed Senate 48-0-0-1, scheduled for a hearing before House ag-natural resources committee tomorrow

SB 5525, gives WDFW goal to up whitetail numbers so surveys find 8 to 9 a mile, passed Senate 48-0-0-1, scheduled for a hearing before House ag-natural resources committee tomorrow;

SB 5597, creates work group to study aerial applications of pesticides on forestlands, passed Senate 47-0-0-2, scheduled for a hearing before House ag-natural resources committee on March 22.

AND THAT BRINGS US TO THE BIG BILLS still hanging out there for Washington sportsmen, WDFW’s fee increase.

HB 1708 and SB 5692 have both had a hearing in their respective chambers, but haven’t budged too far off that initial starting line, though that doesn’t matter much because they’re NTIB bills.

If passed all individual licenses would go up in cost by 15 percent (see breakout of costs here), but thanks to Fish and Wildlife Commission concerns, anglers would only end up paying a maximum of $7 more on bundled packages such as the Combo License and Fish Washington, and hunters $15 more on the “Big Four” (deer, elk, cougar, bear) plus small game.

The commission would be allowed to make small increases to license fees to account for inflation starting two years from now, and the Columbia River endorsement would be extended to 2023.

The bills are part of a $60-plus-million ask of lawmakers to help deal with shortfalls, inflation and unfunded mandates from the legislature, as well as provide better fishing and hunting ops, but only a quarter of that would be raised through the license hike, the rest through the General Fund.

Groups like Puget Sound Anglers, Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Mule Deer Foundation, Ilwaco Charterboat Association, Conservation Northwest, Hunters Heritage Council, Trout Unlimited and others have offered strong support, but the commission’s recent backtrack on Columbia River salmon reforms saw the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association switch from “other” to opposition.

The fee bills’ updated odds of passage weren’t immediately clear to the Olympia Outsider™, but to learn more about them, check out this WDFW brochure and stay tuned to this station — the OO is monitoring the situation, albeit from a far sunnier locale than the chambers of the state legislature.

Editor’s note: For previous coverage of this year’s legislative session from the OO, see this blog, that blog, the other blog, the other-other blog, the other-other-other blog, and the one that kicked off this whole tired, boring, sure-to-get-two-views (thanks, Mom and Dad) series.

Washington Gillnet, Fee Hike Bills Set For Public Hearings In Oly

With few new fish- or wildlife-related bills introduced in Washington’s halls of power, it was a nice, slow week for the Olympia Outsider™ to recover from last week’s grievous shoulder owie (and get into rehab for his little muscle relaxant habit).

BILLS ADDRESSING SALMON HATCHERIES, SALMON HABITAT, SALMON PREDATORS AND SALMON CATCHING ARE ACTIVE IN WASHINGTON’S STATE LEGISLATURE.,  (NMFS)

Most of the action came as senators and representatives held public hearings on previously submitted legislation or lawmakers amended bills, including one addressing in part the game fish status of walleye, bass and channel catfish, or gave them do-pass recommendations.

One bill of note was dropped, SB 5824 from Sen. Doug Eriksen, a different take on recovering southern resident killer whales.

“Tearing down dams, major land grabs and land-use restrictions are not the answer,” the Ferndale Republican said in a press release out yesterday. “A more robust hatchery system not only would mean more food for orcas, but also more opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen, more tourism, and more good-paying jobs in our communities.”


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It would fund construction of a new public-private facility on Bellingham’s waterfront that would operate similar to how some in Alaska are, self-funded through the sale of returning adult pink and coho salmon, as serve as a test for more expansive use of nonstate hatcheries.

At this writing the bill hadn’t been assigned a hearing, nor had another new one (SB 5871) reauthorizing the Columbia River endorsement fee or a third addressing state land management (HB 1983).

Assuming the Great Glacier doesn’t surge out of the Great White North and shove Washington’s capitol into Black Lake over the next few snowy days, next week could still be an interesting one for watchers of state politics, as well as even the occasionally attentive Olympia Outsider™.

The nontribal gillnet phaseout and WDFW’s fee hike bills will be heard before both chambers’ natural resource committees, and who knows what other legislation is waiting in the wings.

Here’s more on those and other bills that are showing signs of life, though sadly the one designating Bainbridge Island (The Wolfiest!™) a sanctuary for wolves has not followed the lead of Punxsutawney Phil and reared its head above ground in any committee yet.

SALMON

Bill title: “Banning the use of nontribal gill nets,” SB 5617
Status: After garnering cosponsorship from 27 of Washington’s 49 state senators at its late January introduction, it is slated for a 1:30 public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Sportfishing groups like NSIA are calling it a “historic bill” and are urging members to bundle up, chain up, and snowshoe their way to Room 3 of the J.A. Cherberg Building to sign in as “pro.”

LICENSES

Bill title: “Concerning recreational fishing and hunting licenses,” HB 1708 / SB 5692
Status: With a letter of support from 13 state sporting and conservation groups, WDFW’s fee hike bill has been scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb. 15 public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources, which should provide an even better gauge for how much support it has.

Bill title: “Broadening the eligibility for a reduced recreational hunting and fishing license rate for resident disabled hunters and fishers,” HB 1230
Status: Lawmakers liked this bill, which would set the cost of licenses for resident sportsmen with a permanent disability confirmed by a doctor, a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner at half what Washington hunters and anglers pay, giving it a unanimous do-pass recommendation out of House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources. Next stop: House Appropriations.

ORCAS

Bill title: “Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance,” HB 1579 / SB 5580
Status: While primarily addressing hydraulic code enforcement and saltwater forage fish habitat, a portion targeting walleye, bass and channel catfish for declassification was amended to retain game fish status but directing the Fish and Wildlife Commission to liberalize limits on the species where they swim with salmon this week by the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resource.

Bill Title: “Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels,” HB 1580 / SB 5577
Status: Had a public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources and is scheduled for an executive session next week.

Bill title: “Addressing the impacts of pinnipeds on populations of threatened southern resident orca prey,” HB 1824
Status: This bill directing WDFW to apply to NOAA for a permit to take out the maximum number of sea lions to increase salmon survival for orcas has been scheduled for an 8 a.m. Feb. 14 public hearing with the House Committee on Environment & Energy.

HUNTING

Bill title: “Concerning visible clothing requirements for hunting,” SB 5148
Status: Hunter pink received a unanimous do-pass recommendation from the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee and was sent to Rules Committee where it’s set for a second reading before placement on the Senate Floor calendar.

WILDLIFE

Bill title: “Concerning wildlife damage to agricultural crops,” HB 1875
Status: Dropped this week by a pair of elk country lawmakers, Reps. Eslick and Dent, this bill changing who is on the hook for agricultural damage from deer and wapiti from hunters to the state general fund is scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb 15 hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources.

PREDATORS

Bill title: “Establishing a nonlethal program within the department of fish and wildlife for the purpose of training dogs,” SB 5320
Status: Enjoyed a lot of supportive baying during a public hearing and the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee gave it a 6-1 do-pass recommendation and sent it to Rules for a second reading. House version (HB 1516) receives a public hearing today.

OTHER

Bill title: “Designating the Pacific razor clam as the state clam,” HB 1061
Status: Could get a “show” of hands, or at least ayes and nays, after a Feb. 15 executive session in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations.

Bill title: “Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes,” HB 1662 / SB 5696
Status: Received public hearings in both chambers, with wide support for changing how counties are reimbursed for lands WDFW wildlife area acquisitions take off property tax rolls. Scheduled for an executive session with the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources next week.

Bill title: “Ensuring compliance with the federal clean water act by prohibiting certain discharges into waters of the state,” HB 1261 / SB 5322
Status: Public hearings held in both chambers’ environmental committees on this bill addressing suction and other mining in critical salmon habitat, with executive session scheduled by the House panel next week.

ALSO ACTIVE

SB 5404, “Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects,” would include eel grass beds, scheduled for an executive session by Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks this afternoon, assuming Snowmaggedon The Reckoning stays away.

HB 1341, “Concerning the use of unmanned aerial systems near certain protected marine species,” given a do-pass recommendation by House Committee on Innovation, Technology & Economic Development and sent to Rules 2 Review

SB 5525, “Concerning whitetail deer population estimates,” addresses Northeast Washington herds, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m., Feb. 14 public hearing before Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks

Hunter Pink Coming To Washington’s Deer Woods?

Blaze pink may be coming to a Washington deer and elk season near you soon.

A bill that would add that color as a second option to orange, which riflemen and some other hunters must swaddle themselves in partially while afield, had a public hearing in Olympia this afternoon.

SEN. LYNDA WILSON TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF HER HUNTER PINK BILL WHILE WEARING A PINK CAMO HUNTING VEST IN THIS SCREENSHOT FROM TVW. (TVW)

Prime sponsor Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Clark County Republican, recalled to fellow senators how she’d first heard that pink can be so much brighter to see in the woods than orange, and added that it might also help bring in more female hunters and revenues for conservation.

“The gear is out there,” she said while testifying before the Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee in a pink camo vest.

The idea behind SB 5148 has been around for several years now.

Other states that have OKed blaze pink include Wisconsin, which was first to do so, Colorado, Louisiana and New York in 2016; Virginia in 2017; and Wyoming and Illinois in 2018.

But Montana lawmakers balked two years ago, and Treasure State hunter Jessica Gray wrote that as a recruiting tool, it was “insulting.”

Back in Olympia, Tom Echols of the Hunters Heritage Council said his organization strongly supported Wilson’s bill.

“While hunter pink is fashionable … that’s not the reason. It’s purely for safety. There is evidence that pink is superior to orange in the field,” Echols said.

In also supporting the bill, David Whipple, WDFW’s Hunter Ed division manager, pointed out that hunting accidents have decreased drastically since states began requiring hunters to wear hunter orange.

“We’re supportive of anything that opens additional doors to hunters as long as it’s safe,” he said.

Essentially, the bill would require the Fish and Wildlife Commission to add pink to the hunts where orange must be worn — during modern firearm deer and elk seasons, overlapping archery and muzzleloader seasons, anyone hunting bears, grouse, etc., in areas where rifle seasons are occurring, and upland bird and game seasons.

Others cosponsoring Wilson’s bill include Sens. Randi Becker (R), Phil Fortunato (R), Guy Palumbo (D), Shelly Short (R), Dean Takko (D), Keith Wagoner (R) and Judy Warnick (R).

Sen. Warnick, who said her husband is a hunter, asked Wilson if sportsmen would have the choice to still wear orange, and Wilson responded that they would.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, the Democratic chair of AWNRP, appeared ready to fast track the bill out of the committee.

Also during today’s public hearing, members heard about SB 5320, which would create a program for training dogs for nonlethal pursuit of predators by vetted houndsmen to protect stock and public safety.

Representatives from the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Farm Bureau, WDFW, Conservation Northwest and even Humane Society of the United States spoke in favor of it.

There was less support, however, for reestablishing a pilot hound hunting program for cougars in six Eastside counties and one on the Westside.

“A good idea then, a good idea now,” Tom Davis of the Farm Bureau termed SB 5100.

Hunting lions was banned by a statewide initiative but a limited hunt was reinstated by lawmakers and extended twice before expiring in 2011.

WDFW was neutral, with the agency’s Mick Cope telling senators that boot hunting seasons in the affected counties — Chelan, Ferry, Klickitat, Mason, Okanogan, Pend Oreille and Stevens — would have to be looked at.

Olympia Update: Here Are Legislators’ Fish, Wildlife Bills So Far

If Washington’s legislature is back in town, so is the Olympia Outsider™!

Well, mostly anyway, what with the restraining order and all, but boy have lawmakers been busy so far at the state capitol!

There’s a bill that would update wardrobe options for Washington rifle deer and elk hunters — gonna be fab! — and another to encourage Congress to open a season on sea lions, while coastal politicians aim to name razors as our state clam and a Pugetropolis pol has dropped the obligatory Westside wolf bill.

And many more are still to come.

“We are still working with the Governor’s Office on the 15 percent fee lift and recruiting bill, along with legislation to implement the orca task force recommendations,” says Raquel Crosier WDFW’s legislative liaison. “I’m expecting to see those bills introduced next week.”

Yes, most bills do go to the legislature to die, but here’s a rundown on fish- and wildlife-related ones that have been introduced so far, along with bill digests from nonpartisan legislative staff and analysis from the highly partisan staff of the Olympia Outsider™:

Bill: HB 1036
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Walsh
Title: Concerning increased fish hatchery production.
Bill digest: “Establishes the Willapa Bay salmon restoration act. Requires the department of fish and wildlife to ensure that hatcheries in Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Wahkiakum counties each produce a certain number of fish.”
OO analysis: WDFW would need to produce as many if not more fish at each of its facilities here as the average number they have over the past two decades, which, needless to say, would increase salmon and steelhead smolt releases fairly significantly but also could conflict with Fish and Wildlife Commission policies. Hatchery increases are definitely on lawmakers’ agenda this session, but the bill might have better odds with a clearer orca linkage.

Bill: HB 1045
Sponsor: Rep. Sherry Appleton
Title: Prohibiting the lethal removal of gray wolves.
Bill digest: “Prohibits the department of fish and wildlife from authorizing the killing of gray wolves. Allows the department to authorize the nonlethal removal or relocation of gray wolves that are destroying or injuring property, or when nonlethal removal or relocation is necessary for wildlife management or research.”
OO analysis: This bill has essentially been shot dead from the state’s helicopter gunship, but not before an Eastside representative took a shot at Appleton, saying he might introduce a bill to declare her home island, Bainbridge, a wolf preserve.

Bill: HB 1046
Sponsor: Rep. Appleton
Title: Prohibiting hunting with the aid of dogs for certain purposes.
Bill digest: “Prohibits a person from hunting or pursuing black bear, cougar, bobcat, or lynx with the aid of a dog”
OO analysis: If the chair of the committee that this bill has to go through wasn’t from timber-dependent country, it might actually get some traction, given coverage of bear damage hunts and a court case in Thurston County, and that would be a bad thing.

Bill: HB 1061
Sponsors: Reps. Brian Blake and Walsh
Title: “Designating the Pacific razor clam as the state clam.”
Bill digest: See above.
OO analysis: Might be a little tougher, what with just four votes from coastal district representatives and about 38,999,322 from all the reps in Geoduckland — Puget Sound — districts.

Bill: HB 1230
Sponsors: Reps. Andrew Barkis, Blake, Walsh, Laurie Dolan, Beth Doglio and Morgan Irwin
Note: Filed by request of Department of Fish and Wildlife
Title: Broadening the eligibility for a reduced recreational hunting and fishing license rate for resident disabled hunters and fishers.
Bill digest: Unavailable at this writing, but per WDFW’s Crosier: “It broadens the discount to anyone with a permanent disability, instead of the limited disability types we currently have in statute (currently we only provide the discount to those who are in a wheelchair, are legally blind or developmentally disabled). The bill also applies the discount rate of 50% to all of our recreational licenses instead of the limited licenses that are discounted under current law.”
OO analysis: Liking the sounds of this one!

Bill: HB 1341
Sponsors: Reps. Zach Hudgins, Jeff Morris, Gel Tarleton and Doglio
Title: Concerning the use of unmanned aerial systems near certain protected marine species.
Bill digest: None available at this writing, but would bar drones from flying within 200 vertical yards above southern resident killer whales.
OO analysis: Would really add to the concept of a protective no-go bubble around Puget Sound’s starving orcas, but what about drone subs?

Bill: HJM 4001
Sponsor: Rep. Walsh
Title: Requesting that Congress amend further the marine mammal protection act to allow the use of hunting or bounty programs as tools to effectively manage populations of predatory sea lions.
Bill digest: Unavailable at this writing, but see above.
OO analysis: Well, with who knows how long this federal government shutdown is going to impact NOAA’s processing of permits to take out as many as 1100 or so California and Steller sea lions a year in portions of the Columbia and its tribs to reduce their predation on ESA-listed salmon and steelhead … But in reality, while a popular sentiment and CSLs are at their habitat’s capacity, the bill probably won’t get too far because of legislature’s makeup.

Bill: SB 5099
Sponsor: Sen. Tim Sheldon
Title: Establishing recreational target shooting areas on public lands.
Bill digest: “Requires the department of natural resources to: (1) Designate and manage recreational target shooting areas on applicable department-managed lands; (2) Establish designated shooting areas in Mason county, including Tahuya state forest, and in Skagit county; and (3) Work with interested stakeholders to evaluate and designate additional shooting areas on department-managed lands.”
OO analysis: You might say this bill appears to be on target …

Bill: SB 5100
Sponsor: Sen. Sheldon
Title: Concerning a pilot program for cougar control.
Bill digest: “Requires the department of fish and wildlife, in cooperation and collaboration with the county legislative authorities of Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Chelan, Okanogan, Mason, and Klickitat counties, to recommend rules to establish a five-year pilot program within select game management units of these counties, to pursue or kill cougars with the aid of dogs.
Requires the development of dangerous wildlife task teams in each county. Allows the department of fish and wildlife to authorize five seasons in which cougars may be pursued or killed with dogs, subject to conditions of the pilot program. Authorizes a county legislative authority to request inclusion in the pilot project after taking certain actions.”
OO analysis: A good start out of the kennel for this bill — scheduled for a hearing next week in the upper chamber’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks.

Bill: SB 5148
Sponsor: Sen. Lynda Wilson
Title: Concerning visible clothing requirements for hunting.
Bill digest: “Requires the fish and wildlife commission to adopt rules determining the times and manner when a person who is hunting must wear fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink clothing.”
OO analysis: WDFW’s Crosier says the bill “focuses on promoting women in hunting through the use of hunters pink – I love this one!” We agree! Scheduled for a hearing next week.

Bill: SB 5320
Sponsors: Senators Dean Takko, Ann Rivers, Lynda Wilson, Kevin Van De Wege, Jim Honeyford, Judy Warnick and Shelly Short
Title: Establishing a nonlethal program within the department of fish and wildlife for the purpose of training dogs.
Bill digest: Unavailable, but speaking to the Capital Press, Rep. Brian Blake of Aberdeen said participants “wouldn’t be allowed to hunt cougars. They’d be allowed to train their dogs so they’d be available for the department.”
OO analysis: We’re hoping this bill will, er, train.