The Legislature will be looking at a number of environmental proposals during the 2023 session, but nothing as monumental as previous years when the state adopted nation’s second cap-and-trade bill on industrial carbon emissions. Proposals so far this year range from planting shade trees along streams to cool the waters for migrating salmon to how to spend those cap-and-trade dollars.

Here are some Crosscut stories with more information on the legislative environmental agenda:

Top environmental bills on the 2023 WA Legislative agenda

Q&A: Washington Governor Jay Inslee talks housing, guns, climate

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WA HB 1010: On shellfish health

House Bill 1010 aims to create stricter regulations on the amount of biotoxin in harvested crab. The state board of health will be required to adopt sets of rules that regulate “crab harvesting, tracking, and recalls” by June 30, 2025. 

Status: Passed the House on March 3. Scheduled for executive session in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks March 16 but no action taken. Bill appears to be dead.

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WA SB 5104 Puget Sound marine shoreline habitat

Senate Bill 5104 aims to add protections for the marine nearshore habitat in Puget Sound. By June 30, 2024, the Department of Ecology would be required to conduct a survey regarding the “shoreline conditions, structures, and structure conditions” of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands using aerial and on-the-water observations. By June 30, 2025, the survey need to be completed and released to the public.

Status: Passed the Senate on March 7. Passed House Committee on Environment & Energy March 23. Passed the House Committee on Appropriations March 31. Passed the House on April 11.


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WA HB 1181 Updates to climate planning framework

House Bill 1181 aims to improve Washington’s climate crisis response by amending the goals of Washington’s Growth Management Act, or GMA, to prioritize transportation systems that are efficient and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Commerce, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation, would be required to release a comprehensive list of transportation guidelines by Dec. 31, 2025. If the GMA is updated, green spaces and open spaces would need to be retained and enhanced. A climate change goal would also be added, saying future state plans and regulations must, among other things, “foster resiliency to climate impacts and natural hazards.” The planned updates would be required to avoid creating or widening environmental health disparities.

Status: Passed the House on March 3. Passed the Senate Committee on Local Government, Land Use & Tribal Affairs March 16, passed the Senate Committee on Ways & Means April 3. Passed the Senate on April 7, concurrence in the House on April 13.


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WA HB 1085 Reducing plastic pollution

House Bill 1085 aims to minimize three common sources of plastic pollution: single-use plastic water bottles, containers and wrappers used as packaging for beauty products and foam overwater structures. For the first, buildings with water fountains must also have a bottle filling station by July 2026. For the second, lodgings such as hotels and rentals cannot provide care/hygiene products such as lotion or shampoo in plastic containers smaller than six ounces. This would not affect locations like hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, or other similar places. Additionally, expanded or extruded plastic foam could not be sold, distributed or installed on overwater structures such as docks, floats and walkways. Floating homes would be exempted from this restriction.

Status: Passed the House on Feb. 28. Passed the Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology March 21, passed the Senate Committee on Ways & Means April 3. Passed the Senate on April 8.


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WA HB 1078 Urban forestry management

House Bill 1078 aims to create more affordable housing in urban growth areas by establishing an urban and community forestry program. This program, managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), would balance deforestation of urban areas with the development of affordable housing. Planned development areas would be prioritized based on demographic, health and environmental data. To offset the tree clearance, the DNR will plant tree banks in designated community areas. The bill would also promote coordination between the DNR and local community ordinances, assisting and pooling resources for the program. 

Status: Bill didn't make it to the House floor. Appears to be dead.

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WA SB 5154 and HB 1131 Recycling and packaging

Senate Bill 5154 and House Bill 1131 aim to establish a cavalcade of policies surrounding producer responsibility organizations (PROs). Any company that produces packaging or paper products would have to join or register as a PRO with the Department of Ecology and abide by regulations intended to increase the eco-friendliness of the products by Jan. 15 2024. The bills would also introduce minimum post consumer recycled content requirements for numerous plastic products. However, a PRO would also be able to set up a dedicated deposit return system of select containers with their distributor responsibility organization to fulfill the responsibilities illustrated in these bills.

Status: Neither bill made it out of its house of origin by the cutoff. Both appear to be dead.


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WA HB 1416 Clean energy standards in consumer-owned utilities

House Bill 1416 would amends the Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA), which sets specific clean energy goals for the state, such as the elimination of coal-fired resources, greenhouse gas-neutral electricity, and renewable sources of energy. House Bill 1416 would include customer-owned utilities as well as investor-owned utilities under the CETA. This would include crypto mining operations, which are primarily located in Central and Eastern Washington. 

Status: Passed House on Feb. 9. Senate Committee on Environment, Energy & Technology March 24. Passed the Senate on April 12.

Read more about this issue on Crosscut.

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WA HB 1012 Extreme weather protection act

House Bill 1012 would introduce an extreme weather response grant program with the goal of assisting counties, cities, towns (political subdivisions) and tribes when the weather is severely hot, cold or smoky. Grants would be awarded by the Military Department to in-need and vulnerable communities and may be taken from funds from the Disaster Response Account. Additionally, certain costs related to lifesaving activities during extreme weather events such as operating warming and cooling centers, purchasing supplies or providing emergency temporary housing, would be eligible for reimbursement.

Status: Passed the House Feb. 28, passed  Senate Committee on State Government & Elections on March 24, scheduled for a vote in Senate Committee on Ways & Means on April 3 but no action taken.


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