2019 PRIORITY ISSUES
Increasing MTCA Revenue and Policy Changes to Guarantee State Funding for Large Cleanup Projects
Several ports have large, multi-year cleanup projects that require significant support from the state. Several of these ports would like to propose legislation to reaffirm the importance of the state funding partnership, to provide necessary funding by increasing the hazardous substances tax, and to authorize the Department of Ecology to contractually commit the legislature to fund the state share of cleanup projects. Senator Carlyle is actively considering changes, including revenue changes, to the MTCA statute. He has asked for others to hold their legislation until he has shared his draft. WPPA is participating in the Carlyle process.
Transportation Funding Transportation leadership in both chambers are expected to propose a modest increase to the gas tax and a possible carbon tax to provide for quickening major project completion and removal of fish passage barriers.
CERB Funding. WPPA will continue to advocate for increased funding for this grant program.
ISSUES WPPA SUPPORTS
Restoration of Local Revitalization Financing (LRF). LRF has proven to be a useful funding source for some communities. The authority to initiate this tool has expired and needs to be restored. WPPA will support these efforts.
Prevailing Wages/Collective Bargaining Agreements. Last session labor unions successfully passed legislation setting prevailing wages using collective bargaining agreements, if there is a CBA. This summer many prevailing wages increased to levels not anticipated by many groups. There will be attempts next session to address this issue once again.
Port Worker Training. HB 1510 was proposed by the Port of Seattle in the last session to expand port district authority to contract with private non-profit entities to provide worker training programs.
Campaign Contribution Limits for Port Commission Races. Only the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma currently have campaign contribution limits – at the same level as for many other elected positions. Recent races in Vancouver and Bellingham increased attention to this issue, and the WPPA membership signaled a desire to extend this limit to all port commission races.
GA Airport Funding. Following the Governor’s veto last year of the “CARB” bill, we still have a need to address funding sources for GA airports. CARB establishes a board that will oversee distribution of loan funds specifically designed for revenue-generating projects at small airports. Another funding priority would lead to increased state match for federal AIP project. Funding would come from a reallocation of aviation fuel sales tax and allow the state to better leverage federal dollars.
Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under SEPA. At this time, project proponents in Washington are not provided any guidance to assess whether a project will create significant greenhouse gas emissions, and how to mitigate for them if they are significant. WPPA’s work to generate support from the environmental community and Ecology has not been successful. Cities and AWB are not on board with a big push. Representative Fitzgibbon has expressed strong interest in SEPA legislation, including provisions to address GHG issues.
Broadband Policy and Funding. Following up on last year’s bill giving all ports broadband authority, there will continue to be discussions ab out how to increase broadband connectivity in rural areas. We will need to participate in those discussions, although we do not have any specific requests at this time.
Strengthening Innovation Partnership Zones/Opportunity Zones. Innovation Partnership Zones were created about ten years ago, but no state funding has accompanied them for several biennia. Opportunity Zones were created this year in the federal tax code. No attempt to date has been made to align these zones, but discussions to do so may occur.
Unregistered Vehicles as Cargo. Vehicles that are cargo are technically not allowed to drive on local roads, because they are unlicensed. We will support efforts to add this as a category of vehicle that can use local roads for short distances.
Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (Opt-In for Aviation Fuel)
Low-carbon fuel standard bills are likely to appear in the upcoming legislative session. Should this happen the WPPA may seek to include an aviation fuel opt-in mechanism.
Orca Recovery Efforts. The task force addressing Orca recovery has recommended analysis of the impacts of Snake River dam removal, increased spill on the Columbia/Snake Rivers, complex changes to the Hydraulic code, constraints on shipping vessel operations, whale-watching regulations, and hatchery funding among other measures. The recommendations include both opportunities and threats to WPPA interests.
Dredging. Pierce County is considering a request to exempt substantial development permits for dredging issued under the authority of the Shoreline Management Act. While WPPA would support the policy, it is a complex issue with many interests.
ISSUES WPPA WILL WATCH
If you would like more information on these priority issues, contact our office at 360-943-0760 and one of our staff will be happy to answer your questions.