By Paul Gottlieb
Special to the Peninsula Daily News
OLYMPIA — A college wrestling grant bill spurred by late firefighter Charles “Chad” Cate’s pleas days before he died sailed quickly through the state Senate this week.
SSB 5687’s progress Thursday marked heightened activity in Olympia as the 105-day legislative session moved further past its halfway point.
The bill joined dozens of others that moved from House to Senate and Senate to House before their full-Legislature reckoning by session’s end April 24 — and Gov. Jay Inslee’s potential signature.
Senators approved 5687 by 49-0, well before Wednesday’s deadline for bills to move out of their house of origin. The vote made it all but certain it will be approved in the House.
The Charles Cate II Act, sponsored by state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Port Angeles, creates a competitive grant program administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council for two-and four-year college intercollegiate wrestling programs.
The 24th District Democrat, who represents Jefferson and Clallam counties and the half of Grays Harbor County that includes Hoquiam, is seeking $400,000 in grant funds for the 2023-25 biennium. Grant proceeds would be spent on start-up costs, equipment and student scholarships.
Staffing would cost an additional $143,000 in 2023-25, and $66,000 each in 2025-27 and 2027-29, according to the fiscal note at leg.wa.gov.
Van De Wege said Cate, a Sequim High School graduate and wrestling coach, joined Sequim photographer Randy Tomaras, a wrestling advocate, in a visit with Van De Wege about a week before Cate died to talk wrestling — or lack thereof.
Van De Wege said Cate and Tomaras described the stark absence of post-secondary wrestling programs in Washington state, where numerous programs vanished over the years, leaving college mats bare.
The Evergreen State College in Olympia will add men’s and women’s wrestling this fall.
Fifty percent of post-secondary students who participate in wrestling programs eventually coach high school wrestling, and 25 percent will teach as well, according to committee testimony.
Cate and Tomaras’ entreaties over the lack of college programs and the subsequent depletion of high school coaching ranks led to the bill being named after the late Sequim District 3 firefighter.
“They presented me with a problem and then I came rip with a solution after the session started,” Van De Wege said.
“He was very passionate about wrestling.”
Even more than that, Cate was a fellow captain Van De Wege had known for 22 years, who was suddenly gone.
“He was another captain on my ship,” Van De Wege recalled.
Cate was found dead in his bunk at the Clallam County Fire District 3 station at 323 N. Fifth Ave. headquarters on Jan. 12.
An autopsy showed he expired of natural causes from cardiovascular disease, Clallam County Deputy Coroner Nathan Millet said Thursday.
Changes made by the Senate or House to any bill must return to the house of origin for approval.
“Most bills we vote on are amendments to existing laws,” said, Rep. Mike Chapman, a Port Angeles Democrat. “It’s mostly amending and tweaking.”
Those proposals surviving the legislative-policy committee cuts that made it to full Senate and House votes include bills restricting rent increases, expanding latitude for police pursuits, and increasing special education funding for school districts.
Some bills, considered necessary to implement the budget, are exempt from the Feb. 24 final committee cut-off date if considered vital to completion of the state spending plan.
Bills that fail this year do not really die.
They return to their committees of origin at next year’s 60-day session for reconsideration.
“There will be bills we look at this year that will be relooked at next year,” Chapman said.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s $70.4 billion 2023-25 fiscal years operating budget, funded in part by a tax on capital gains imposed in January, had hearings in the Senate Ways and Means Committee Jan. 10 and the House Appropriations Committee Jan. 11
His $8.9 billion biennial capital budget had Jan. 12 hearings n the House Capital Committee, chaired by 24th District state Rep. Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend, and in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Inslee’s $12.2 billion transportation budget had hearings Jan. 17 in the Senate Transportation Committee and Jan. 18 in the House Transportation Committee.
Legislative Reporter Paul Gottlieb, a former senior reporter at Peninsula Daily News, can be reached at email@example.com.