By Tim Manns
The Washington State Legislature’s 60 day session opened January 13th and is scheduled to end March 12th. Our state has a two-year budget cycle, and in non-budget writing years such as 2020 the session is very short and the pressure to get things done correspondingly intense. Nonetheless, the Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC), whose twenty member organizations include Audubon Washington, is pursuing 4 legislative priorities with the help of member volunteers and staff. Please participate in your state government by calling or writing the elected officials who represent you.
The Coalition is focusing on setting a clean fuels standard, updating the goals and timeline for limiting climate pollution, improving the potential for Southern Resident Orcas to survive, and banning single-use plastic bags as many other jurisdictions around the world have already done. Read https://wecprotects.org/environmental-priorities-coalition/. The one-pager links with the description of each priority give details and associated bill numbers for legislation introduced in the current session in Olympia. Contact your elected representatives and ask for their support.
Audubon Washington staff produced a summary of legislative priorities adding a few to the EPC’s 4, some addressing the climate crisis, identified by National Audubon research as the number one threat to birds, and some on related matters such as improved funding for Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. WDFW manages much habitat where we enjoy birding and is responsible for studying and protecting rare species. Read the Audubon summary and details and sign up for weekly legislative updates by Adam Maxwell, Audubon Washington’s Director of Government Affairs at https://wa.audubon.org/conservation/legislative-session-2020 (scroll down to “Overview of 2020 Priority Issues”). Note Audubon’s increasing emphasis on leveraging nature’s ability to sequester carbon by protecting forests and improving farming practices, both very relevant in Skagit County.
The State Legislature’s informative website is a great tool for active citizens: http://leg.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx. To check on a particular bill in the House or Senate, click on “Bill Information” along the left margin. On this website you can comment on bills and sign up to receive e-mail notification when there’s action on legislation of special interest to you.
We probably all can cite instances of regret when we didn’t speak out and a bad bill passed. Nothing is easier than telling ourselves we can’t make a difference. In fact, there are many examples in Washington State of concerted and persistent action by enough people resulting in positive change. Active citizens can change the world. March 12th is not far off. Let’s make a difference for people, for birds, for the planet.
For information on more conservation issues of concern to Skagit Audubon: https://skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes.