OLYMPIA — On a bipartisan vote of 95-2, the state House of Representatives passed a state construction budget that includes a $1.8 billion investment in building education facilities.
Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, chairs the committee that recommended a pass to the House floor last week.
Tharinger, along with Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, represents the 24th District, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.
“Education and higher education are the engines of our state’s economy,” said Tharinger in a press release Friday.
“This budget is about building a better Washington for our children and grandchildren, and that starts with making sure they have the schools and universities they need to compete for the best jobs in the world.”
For the North Olympic Peninsula, projects in the House capital budget include:
• $615,000 to replace the main intake at the Dungeness Hatchery.
• $2.9 million for World War I facilities preservation at Fort Flagler.
• $697,000 for repair or replacement of the pier at Fort Worden State Park.
• $1.9 million to replace sewer lines at Fort Worden.
• $358,000 to replace water lines at Fort Worden.
• $1 million for the Jefferson HealthCare Dental Clinic.
• $610,000 for the North Olympic Healthcare Network in Port Angeles.
• $649,000 for the Spruce Railroad Trail and Daley Rankin Tunnel restoration.
• $1 million for the Port Angeles unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
• $225,000 for the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles.
• $3.4 million for the Chimacum Ridge forest pilot.
• $3 million and $1.8 million for fish passage barrier removals along Johnson Creek and an unnamed tributary, both in the Hoko Watershed in western Clallam County.
“This is a Families First budget which is aimed at building a better Washington for the next generation,” Tharinger said in the press release.
“I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on a final compromise that will help us build a more thriving, prosperous Washington for all the people we represent.”
The House capital budget is just one of two in the Legislature. The Senate passed a different version two weeks ago. They must be reconciled and approved before heading to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.
The capital budget is tied to the general operating budget, said Guy Bergstrom, a spokesman for Tharinger. Negotiations for the general budget are expected to take place in a special session after April 23.
Senate and House Democrats sent a formal request to the GOP majority in the Senate to begin negotiations last week.
Senate passes pill bill
Over in the Senate, Van De Wege said he was pleased with the passage of HB 1234, which will require insurance carriers to reimburse refills for birth control for 12 months at a time instead of monthly.
Currently, insurance providers do not have a uniform rate for the dispensing of birth control. This bill requires that women receive a full year’s worth of contraceptives unless they request less, giving individuals the leeway to choose whichever schedule is best for their needs.
“This change will particularly help women who live in areas far from a pharmacy or those who are studying or working abroad,” said Van De Wege.
“While legislatures across the country continue to attempt to restrict reproductive health care coverage for women, Washington state continues to lead the way in access to contraceptive care.”
Having already passed the House, the bill now awaits the governor’s signature.
Chapman, Tharinger and Van De Wege have all voted for SB 5008, which would bring Washington state into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.
The bill cleared the state Legislature last Tuesday. The federal REAL ID act mandates special security features and issuance requirements for driver’s licenses and identification cards.
Residents without the enhancements on their driver’s licenses would need additional identification, such as a passport, to board commercial domestic flights beginning Jan. 22, 2018. Washington has been granted a 2020 extension to meet the requirements.
Under the bill, the state would keep its current enhanced license and mark standard licenses as not valid for federal purposes.
The House passed SB 5008 with a 69-28 bipartisan vote, but it made changes to the bill that will have to be approved by the Senate before it can be sent on to the governor.
The House also added language that would prohibit the standard licenses from being used to determine the holder’s immigration status or citizenship.
If the bill doesn’t clear both houses before the end of the session April 23, it could go back to the Senate and have to be passed again during a special session.
Assistant Managing Editor Mark Swanson can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55450, or [email protected].