waskington state lake images
WATERLINE - September, 2022

The Washington legislature, primary results, and goals for 2023

an update from WALPA’s Bylaws, Legislative and Policy Committee
by Matt Colston, chair

As many readers know, Washington State’s legislature has 98 House seats and 49 Senate seats. Currently, Democrats control both chambers. In November’s general election, all 98 House seats are up for election, as are 23 of the Senate seats. Twenty-two state lawmakers are either stepping away from their positions or seeking positions in different houses of the legislature. Ten representatives are retiring, with another five seeking election to the Senate. Four Senate Democrats are retiring as well. One Senate Republican is running for another office but will keep his current seat even if he loses the race. 

In the just-concluded primary election, incumbents prevailed, as is often the case. Voter turnout for the primary was 39.17%, a decrease of 15.27% from the 2020 primary. If these primaries are an indicator of general election results, in November we will have a two-house Democratic majority. That being said, no outcome is guaranteed, nor can we be sure that the Lorraine Loomis Act (one of WALPA’s priorities; see below) will get through committee as it did last session. Environmentally minded groups and citizens like WALPA will still need to advocate and fight to get the bill passed.

WALPA 2023 Legislative Goals:

Get cyanotoxins listed as 303(d) water impairments under the Clean Water Act:
Emphasize to the Department of Ecology, the legislature, and EPA the need to update the Clean Water Act’s 303(d) list of impaired and threatened waters to include cyanotoxins. This update will help municipal and county regulators address cyanotoxins in our waterways. Hopefully, we can help local lawmakers see its importance, especially in counties and cities with existing clean water programs and utilities.

Get more funding for cyanobacteria monitoring and control/reduction across the state:
Pursue a legislative mandate for cyanobacterial monitoring to counties and increased funding.
Get more funding for cyanobacteria control/reduction projects.
Highlight the link between lake health and salmonid population health for regulators and policy makers.

Support passage of the Lorraine Loomis Act:
This bill would be a major step forward to improve riparian habitat restoration, and potentially lake and stream habitats as well.

The Bylaws, Legislative, and Policy Committee will discuss these goals further at their November meeting (on Tuesday, November 15,⋅5-6 PM, via this link: (https://meetings.dialpad.com/room/walpa). All WALPA members are welcome to join our committee by emailing Matthew Colston. We’d love to have your help!