By Robert Dengel, Outdoor Advocate Volunteer
March 13th marked an important legislative cutoff in Olympia, as bills for had to be passed out of their respective chambers. House Bills had to be passed out of the House, and Senate Bills had to be passed out of the Senate. In my previous post I explained how bill passage was like an antelope migration full of various dangers. So how did the herd of bills of recreation bills do after this cutoff? Well, we have been tracking twenty bills and it is now down to three. The bill herd has been thinned out. Seeing how this cutoff also signaled the half waypoint for the session, the remaining bills a long lonely journey yet to go. You might notice from the summary below there are no House Bills which we were tracking survived the cutoff, with no real reason other than other priorities come to the fore.
As mentioned in prior posts many of other the Discover Pass and State Parks funding bills will likely remain on hold until the larger operating budget proposals begin moving through the legislature.
Following are the bills that appear to be heading for survival thus far:
SSB 5057 Prohibits certain private, not-for-profit organizations acquiring real property through state funds (including grants and transfers) from prohibiting or restricting public access for hunting, fishing, trapping, or other outdoor recreation on that property. This bill was amended to allow for limiting public access where it is necessary to protect natural resources and/or cultural resources. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on March 20th in the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources at 8:00 AM
SB 5097 Allows a married couple to pool their volunteer hours (24 hours are required) to obtain a complimentary Discover Pass. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing on March 19th in the House Committee on Community Development, and Housing & Tribal Affairs at 10:00 AM.
SSB 5289 Allows a Discover Pass holder to display their pass in any prominent location on the vehicle, instead of just their windshield. Exempts those driving on non-gated forest roads managed by the state from needing a Discover Pass. Language was removed that allowed DFW vehicle pass holders to purchase a Discover Pass for $5. The latest bill language does allow for bulk sales of the Discover Pass to retailers. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing on March 19th in the House Committee on Community Development, and Housing & Tribal Affairs at 10:00 AM.