by Tim Manns
Washington State Legislature
The State Legislature’s 2023 session runs from January 9th to April 23rd. In odd years, our legislators write the two-year state budget. Thus, there will be both policy and funding bills with implications for Audubon’s priorities. Skagit Audubon is one of 25 Audubon chapters in Washington State. Audubon Washington, the state office, chooses priorities for the legislative session. For an overview of these for the 2023 session, go to Advocacy | Audubon Washington (scroll down to “Advocacy News Feed” and the article “Speak Up for the Birds this Legislative Session”.) For more detail, see item number three on page two of the Skagit Audubon Conservation Notes for December 2022 (https://skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes). We anticipate there will be weekly updates on the progress of these priorities during the legislative session. Watch for these at Advocacy | Audubon Washington.
To track the progress of a given bill it’s helpful to know the bill’s number. As of this writing in mid-December we do not yet know the numbers associated with Audubon Washington’s legislative priorities. I will send those out when they are available plus links to more specific information about Audubon’s priorities.
At Audubon Washington’s “Take Action and Advocate Effectively” web page (Take Action and Advocate Effectively | Audubon Washington) you can sign up for action alerts sent when legislators especially need to hear from Audubon members across the state or in specific districts. On that page there are also links to information about how the legislative process works and much other useful information for engaging with our state elected officials. Rather than waiting for an action alert, you can always comment on bills by going to Bill Information (wa.gov) and typing in the bill’s number. You can read the draft bill and related reports, see where the bill is in the legislative process, and indicate whether you support the measure.
Environmental Priorities Coalition
Audubon Washington is one of more than twenty conservation groups participating in the Environmental Priorities Coalition (EPC). The coalition members collectively focus on a few priority bills each year during the state legislative session. As of this writing in mid-December there is preliminary information about the EPC priorities, most of which overlap those of Audubon Washington: Environmental Priorities Coalition - Washington Environmental Council (wecprotects.org). You can sign up to receive a weekly update on the progress of the EPC priorities and other relevant bills at Bills to Watch - Washington Environmental Council (wecprotects.org). Another source of updates and alerts on conservation matters during the legislative session is Bellingham-based RE Sources, which sends occasional alerts and provides tracking of bills. Sign up at Join RE Sources' legislative action team! (p2a.co).
Many important policies and laws relevant to Audubon’s mission are enacted at the state level. Relatively few citizens communicate with their state legislators, who, for the most part, do want to hear from you and will take into consideration what you have to say. We cannot take for granted that birds and other wildlife - or people - will have the conditions they need. Let your legislators know where you stand.