Right now, legislators from across the state are “pre-filing” bills they want to introduce in the 2014 session. Rep. Jason Overstreet has already filed two bills that caught my eye (I’ll be examining Reps. Lytton and Morris’ efforts on Saturday).
Rep. Jason Overstreet
The first bill Overstreet has pre-filed is HB 2091 and it is cosponsored by his two favorite conservative legislators, Rep. Matt Shea from Spokane, and Rep. David Taylor from Yakima. Last year, all but one of Overstreet’s bills were cosponsored by Shea and Taylor, so whenever you see one of their names, the other two aren’t far behind.
This bill would exempt the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the state patrol from the state’s biodiesel requirement. A law that went into effect in 2006 requires all state agencies to use a minimum of 20 percent biodiesel, as a percentage of all diesel usage, (our ferries had a goal of 5%). By July 1, 2015, the goal is 100 percent usage. The bill exempts the two agencies from the larger goal as well.
Since WSDOT, including the ferries, is responsible for over 95 percent
of the state purchases of biodiesel, passage of this bill would effectively kill the program. According to the latest state Biodiesel report
, we are definitely lagging in our progress toward that goal. However, there has not been any increased costs associated with purchasing the biodiesel.
There has been some concerns about its impact on our fleet of cars and ferries because the high sulphur content requires more filter changes than before. Will cancelling these goals solve these problems? No, but that’s the solution Overstreet is proposing.
The second bill he has pre-filed, HB2093,
substitutes federal environmental regulation for state regulation on all transportation projects. It is a pretty dense bill, but the upshot is that if Washington state has a more stringent environmental requirement than the federal government, the state law is ignored in favor of the federal law. Naturally, Shea and Taylor are also cosponsoring.
It is interesting (and naturally by “interesting” I mean supremely hypocritical)
that Overstreet, after years of railing against big government, suddenly believes in the complete authority of our federal system. Check out this quote from his campaign website,
“The federal government is out of control—and the State of Washington is following.” He describes himself as
, “committed to empowering people, not government.” Yet here he is, wrestling control away from local lawmakers and putting our transportation project standards in the hands of the federal government.
I will continue to keep you updated on the latest news from Olympia as we continue our weekly coverage of the Washington State Legislature. I think we will even have a specialized logo for those columns, I’m meeting with my graphic designer tonight. Until tomorrow!