Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 5, 2015

Rep. Vincent Buys 2015 Legislative Proposals

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys, fresh from his reelection in 2014, is back in Olympia with a whole slew of new legislative proposals. In the past, Buys faced criticism (yes on this very blog) for his underachievement – he has only passed four bills in four years – but last year his proposals eschewed the red meat conservative ideas of his seatmate Rep. Jason Overstreet and instead centered around small fixes in farming law.

Much of state lawmaking is about tackling these sorts of small-scale updates, and this year Buys has proposed a similar slate of fixes.

I’ve broken them into four categories; Agriculture, Independent Contractors, Local Stuff and Huh?! As always, click on the bill number to read the actual details of the bill if my summary isn’t detailed enough for your tastes.


HB1268 – Hemp Seed for Animal Feed. This bill is actually a repeat from last year where it got some traction but didn’t make it all the way through both houses before the cutoff. It has drawn bipartisan support (including co-sponsorship from Rep. Kris Lytton of the 40th) and allows hemp seeds to be used in animal feed.

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys

HB1267 Addressing Water Rights with Micro-irrigation. This bill would create a new, temporary process for certain water users who have transitioned to a more efficient irrigation technology to change their place of water use with the Department of Ecology.

I have to admit, water rights are not my area of expertise but by reading the non-partisan staff report, this seems pretty mundane. It specifically targets those farmers switching to micro-irrigation systems and creates a process for them to adjust their water rights without changing their place in line.

HB1270 – Let’s Greenlight Three New Salmon Hatcheries. The first sentence really covers it. This bill directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife to approve three non-profit qualified organizations to hatch more salmon and reduce the amount of fishing in hatchery impact areas.

HB1269 – Continuing the Dairy Inspection Program Assessment. That’s right, this bill, co-sponsored with freshly minted legislator Rep. Van Werven, delays the assessment of our dairy producer inspection program. Keep gathering info, dairy inspectors!

HB1338 – Concerning the Diversion of certain Municipal Waters. Ominous title but this bill is relatively simple. And a bad idea. It would allow someone to discharge a bunch of waste water into the Nooksack (yes, specifically the Nooksack) and then withdraw the same amount downstream for crop irrigation purposes. So rather than treating the waste water, let’s just toss it in the river and grab some downstream. What could possibly go wrong there?

Independent Contractor

After Buys career as a flight attendant but before he became a legislator, Buys was an independent contractor. Although he no longer has an active business license as a contractor, he has proposed a series of bills relating to how contractors operate. If you think HVAC systems are fascinating, read on!

Rep. Vincent Buys

Rep. Vincent Buys

HB1608 – Concerning the Replacement of like-in-kind Household Appliances. Did you know there are specific sorts of electricians who handle HVAC systems? This bill would create a certification/licensing process for them. Boring but practical.

HB1291 – Credentialing Requirements for the installation of Residential Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems. This bill has a few fixes for licensing sprinkler system installers. It extends the licensing requirement to the people who design the systems and limits the ability of municipalities to require licenses for systems (centralizing the requirements in state law, rather than different municipalities).

HB1289 – Modifying the Procedure for Changing the Washington state Energy Code. This bill is right out of the ALEC playbook – it makes it more difficult to change our building requirements. Specifically, changes may be only made if  “. . . they maintain and promote a competitive business climate based on an evaluation of economic, technical, and process factors.” It directs the state to reduce the number of changes made to the code and “evaluate impacts of adopting the Code on small businesses and reduce the costs imposed on small businesses.”

HB1575 – Regulating Retainage Bonds on Public Contracts. This would require a 5% retainage bond on all public contracts. What’s a retainage bond? Basically, it is part of a contractor’s payment that is held in reserve and distributed if the project is completed on time and to specifications. Not a terrible idea actually, but the legislation is pretty broad.

HB1754 – Requiring Disclosure of Subcontractors on large Public Projects. Basically this bill requires the main contractor on public projects over $1 million dollars to list the subcontractor who handles the siding and exterior coverings of the walls (i.e. the “building envelope”) as part of the description before the bid is approved.

Local Stuff

HB1266 – Creating a Task Force to examine Irrigation District Elections. This bill, as it states in the title, creates a local task force to examine the process and technology involved in irrigation district elections. Looking around, I couldn’t find any examples of irrigation district elections that raised any eyebrows (or even any interest . . . at all). Is this a solution in search of a problem or is there some situation I missed?

HB1381 – Extends tax credits for the Aluminum Smelters. Basically, every state legislator with an aluminum smelter in their district (including Rep. Kris Lytton and Rep. Jeff Morris) is sponsoring this bill to extend their tax credits until 2022 for a cost of $15.5 million dollars.


Alright, admit it. You skipped right to this section didn’t you? If you enjoyed this write-up, feel free to toss a few dollars in the tip jar to keep this site running strong. Okay, back to the legislative write-up.

So dreamy . . .

So dreamy . . .

HB1272 – Criminalizing Sexting. This bill would create criminal charges for the wrongful distribution of intimate pictures. This was a bill Buys had been working on last year that didn’t make the cut. It has drawn a few co-sponsors but has not gone very far.

Buys refers to this as “revenge porn,” where former romantic partners share images garnered during the relationship, but I worry about the overly broad language and youthful idiots.

Now that everyone has a camera attached to an email account in their pocket, this law could be applied to quite a few situations. This issue definitely needs to be addressed, I’m just not sure this is the right way to go about it. In the meantime, I’ll share my favorite beefcake picture of Rep. Vincent Buys on the right.

 HB1271 – Increasing Rock Collecting opportunities on State Lands. When reading through bad legislation, they usually fall into three categories: really boring, overly specific and completely weird. This bill falls right in the center of that Venn diagram. It would allow overeager rock gatherers to purchase a permit to collect rocks on state land as an add-on to their Discover Pass.

From the bill, “Rock collecting is a hobby enjoyed by entire families and is an educational experience for school children that can separate them from electronic screens and create a lifetime bond with the outdoors and with nature.”

Yes, our educational system is chronically underfunded, climate change is a growing challenge, and our retail marijuana system needs some refinement, but thank goodness we have Rep. Buys working on the vital rock collecting issue.

That is it for all the bills that Buys has been a primary sponsor of this year.  He has been involved in the “Ag-gag” bill which I am covering separately over the weekend. Also, stay tuned for Rep. Kris Lytton’s bills on cider making.



  1. HB1266 – Task force for irrigation districts – may be a stealth tactic. As Carl Weimer noted in August on his blog, Robert Carmichael, a prominent local attorney, sent in a very detailed 13-page memo on how to change the way water is allocated for salmon vs. irrigation. I was quite critical of this memo and you can read my comments at Carl’s site. The address is:

    In a nutshell this memo was a template for how the county council can get around the tribal rights through creation of new irrigation districts and the so-called Planning Unit. I see Buys’ bill as another part of this ongoing effort to screw the tribes once again. Others may differ, but I suspect the Lummis see it too, which is why they have defaulted to the Boldt Decision as trumping everything else.

  2. Riley,

    According to a recent WSJ article, Alcoa is doing quite well.


    HB1381 – Extends tax credits for the Aluminum Smelters. Basically, every state legislator with an aluminum smelter in their district (including Rep. Kris Lytton and Rep. Jeff Morris) is sponsoring this bill to extend their tax credits until 2022 for a cost of $15.5 million dollars.

  3. Thanks, Riley, for all the detail, and especially noting which bills are ALEC-sponsored, though the ag bill was already outed. Now let’s get out there and collect more rocks!

    • @Dianne- “Now let’s get out there and collect more rocks!”

      I can’t argue with that!

  4. Oh dear – the rock collecting bill really takes the “beef” cake! I enjoyed the article Riley.

  5. Glad to see Buys working on bringing more salmon to our waters in a manner modeled after the AK PNP system. It works very well for both fishers (tribal and otherwise) and native stocks.

  6. Where else can you get 9 tons of State Parks rocks for only 5 bucks!
    But how many rocks can a park goer dislodge in their quest for the perfect 50 pounds and
    how many Rock Rangers will that $5 fee buy and
    what shall be done with the scofflaw that collects 51 pounds per day?
    That Vincent, he’s always thinking.

  7. Mr. Sweeney,
    After reading your summary of his proposed House bills, Rep. Buys comes off as a ‘legislative lightweight.’ Or did I miss something? – Mike

    • I would say that is a fair critique.

      • Riley,

        I love and appreciate your political reporting. It helps me to understand the process, and the all too often hidden agendas.

        Having said this though, I must take exception to your critique of Representative Buys. The term “lightweight” is not a complimentary term.

        I have had the opportunity to work with Representative Buys on House Bill 1270, which would allow a Private-Non Profit salmon hatchery to be located in Whatcom County. He insisted that we bring him a bill with broad support, which we did. Once we met his conditions, he went to work and within a week had a bill ready for us here in Whatcom County.

        Rep. Buys never once asked whether we were Republicans or Democrats, but only whether we had broad support locally.

        I can tell you first hand, that he was and ieincredibly hard working and responsive to our request.

        As to being a lightweight, I suspect that you know that all new Representatives have little power over the big issues. Power comes with seniority.

        While waiting for seniority, Rep. Buys is busy responding to his constituents “smaller” needs.

        Our hatchery bill has bipartisan support, which in my personal opinion, was the result of Rep. Buys relationships with other legislators.

        Playing well with others, and avoiding name calling seem like lost values in todays politics. Maybe these lost values, are one of the reasons why politics is not working well for most common citizens.

        Maybe these lost values, are more important than we appreciate.

        One of the things that makes a good journalist worth listening too, is knowing that the journalist is in neither parties pocket.

        Just sayin.

      • You are right – I took the bait and I shouldn’t have. I find most of Buys legislation to be tackling small but important issues. Sure there is some headscratchers (rock gathering) or fist shaking (the ALEC bill) but most of them are mundane and constituent inspired.

  8. on HB1338- I read some more description of this in his (Buys’) legislative update newsletter. This seems to concern “cow water”, which thankfully he explained, otherwise one’s imagination can run wild. The cow water is what is distilled out in the process of making powdered milk- and so should be basically water (and not some noxious toxic waste). The key question is where the cows get their drinking water. In the bill, the “foreign water” (= cow water) must come from outside of the watershed, essentially. In his newsletter, Rep. Buys says the water for the cows to drink comes from the Nooksack River. If the former is true- the cows drink water (maybe the milk is from Skagit cows at least in part?) from a different source, so the discharged cow water is a net gain to the Nooksack, and perhaps could then be used by Lynden without impacting the water rights of others. If the cows drink water from the Nooksack, then putting that water back should not allow for any additional allowance for Lynden- especially given that water consumed by the cows does not all go to the cow water we are concerned with, and so this would be a net loss of water to the river.

    • This bill is probably dead. Mike Martin, Admin Mgr for City of Lynden told me the water comes from outside the Nooksack drainage. Milk is trucked in for processing. Lynden water consumption is 5% over it’s Water Right and they are still issuing building permits.

      • the basic idea- some sort of credit for the cow water- is worth looking at. Seems like this would be better to allow for a provision for irrigation, not municipal use?

  9. The rock collecting thing is sure weird. What really gets me is that there would only be an additional five dollars to Discover Passes. Anyone can afford that, an imagine what would happen if everyone went out and collected fifty pounds of rocks daily. There wouldn’t be any rocks left.

    • agreed. There are lots of places where interesting and valuable fossils would be cleared out, and or destroyed by novice collectors. While there is a provision for restrictions on valuable minerals and petrified wood (otherwise the Vantage petrified forest would be cleaned out post-haste), there are problems. Fossils are exempt? If so, say good bye to the plant fossils along Chuckanut. This also places a significant administrative and enforcement burden on the various parks- to define and regulate what the permit holders might be allowed to collect, and to make sure valuable rocks, minerals, and fossils are not poached. 50 pounds per day is also not a limit set up with school kids picking up an interesting shiny mineral in mind- geology majors at WWU do not routinely pack 50 lbs of rocks out of a field area (mind you they have permits and permission when they do so) for their research. 50 lbs a day is more consistent with a commercial collector.

  10. […] state representative from the 42nd District, however the Tea Party wave in 2010 allowed newcomer (and rock-collecting enthusiast) Vincent Buys to oust Linville. Rather than simply return to her antique furniture business, […]

  11. […] As always, you can click on the bill number to read the original legislation. You can also see my breakdown of Rep. Kris Lytton (D-Anacortes) and Rep. Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) here. […]

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