Currently Happening

Your Voice Can Make a Difference!

WOMA Day on the Hill
Olympia, WA
February 12, 2013

Join other WOMA m arketers in Olympia and learn about important issues affecting your business, while helping us carry the message to your elected officials. Facing a tough economy and severe budget deficit, legislators need to know how you are impacted by their decisions in key areas such as environmental, taxes, competitiveness, health care and more.  Influence what happens in Olympia by encouraging your legislators to focus on policies that create a strong economy and the greatest opportunities for Washington state.

RSVP to Lea Wilson by emailing her at lea@waoil.org.

Legislative Report

The Washington State Legislature opened its 2011 Legislative Session on Monday, Jan. 10, and will be in the 105-day long session. Unfortunately, the main issue on the mind of all the legislators, the Governor, and everyone associated with Washington state government is the current budget deficit.

Last November, Washingtonians voted to repeal the Legislature’s 2nd waiver of the 2/3rd’s law on all new taxes, which allowed them to pass such taxes as soda, candy and bottled water taxes.  Now, thanks to voters, all of those are repealed and the State is faced with having to fill those budget gaps through more practical means such as “living within our means”, a concept the Washington Legislature quickly forgot the year after Dino Rossi balanced the budget as the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

By week three of the session, we already had several bills being heard in committee that could hurt our members, but we are strategically fighting each and every one of them.
Issues plaguing WOMA Members this year include a biodiesel mandate, the removal of the handling allowance, a new Stormwater tax, a merger of PLIA into the Department of Ecology, and Rest Area Commercialization.

Biodiesel Mandate:

Oppose. After beating back the 2% mandate in 2010, the producers and state agency is now taking another stab at the bill.  HB1606/SB5478 will require that every gallon of diesel by blended with 2% bio.  Within the first three weeks of session, it had already gotten a hearing in the House and has traction.  However, each of the transportation committees want to get the bill referred to them, where it appears it will lie dead.  Nearly all local emergency agencies, city transportations entities, local governments, marine, farmers, etc are asking for an exemption, leaving the burden of the mandate at the feet of the consumers to bear.

Rest Area Commercialization:

Oppose. Senator Shin from the Everett area is seeking new and creative ways to fill budget gaps and has introduced a bill to privatize and commercialize rest areas along state highways.  This will effect six rest areas in very rural areas, but will likely put several small business owners of restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, coffee stands, etc. out of business.  WOMA has made a solid argument against and we hope it will die in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Handling Allowance:

Concerned. In 2009, the JLARC Study on our state’s current Handling Allowance Policy determined it prudent to recommend to the Legislature to remove our handling allowance based on the fact that emission controls were satisfactorily in place and clearly there was a near-zero release of fuel into the atmosphere.  As a result, since evaporation is considered to not be occurring, the handling allowance is recommended to be eliminated.  WOMA accepted that decision, but then challenged legislators to then remove the local air permit fees pointing to the same conclusion of the JLARC Study.  In WA, air quality permit fees are control by local air quality boards and range from $200 to $1500 per station per year.  WOMA asked legislators to consider stabilizing air permit fees to a reasonable one time state fee of around $50/year if they choose to eliminate the handling allowance.  Senator Regala is considering such a compromise.  WOMA believes local air quality agencies may not like the elimination of their local revenue stream and will oppose such a bill. 

PLIA Merger to Department of Ecology:

Neutral – until more facts become available. The Governor is making another attempt to merge natural resource agencies through HB1460.  WOMA has expressed their position to DOE, and is working through the process now of how the merger would be handled.  WOMA would like to see some key policy changes made to the program if it is going to merge with Ecology, to include the 12-month provision for staying with heating oil after a residential clean-up, multiple insurance carrier requirements within PLIA, and tank contractor oversight of large clean-ups.

Over the Water Vessel Fueling Fees:

Oppose. In HB 1403, the environmentalists are attempting to increase a fee collected at the rack to fund more prevention, preparedness, response and restoration of spills that occur when fueling over the water.

Stormwater Clean-Up Fee:

Oppose. This year, proponents are pitching (HB 1735/SB 5604) what is essentially a new 1% tax (even though they have dubbed it a fee in hopes of avoiding I-1053’s 2/3 majority vote requirements) to be levied on the value of petroleum and pesticide products at the time of their first in-state possession.  We believe that the measure clearly fits the Department of Revenue’s definition of a tax, and hope to challenge their characterization of the measure.

Additionally, we will point out that this new tax, which reportedly will generate $100 million annually, is not necessary if the existing hazardous substances tax were used as intended.  With the current House supplemental budget proposal, the MTCA account will have been raided to the tune of $250 million over the last few years!  This is money that could have gone to what environmentalists are calling their top priority, stormwater clean-up.  We will also point out that this dramatic increase in costs will either drive up prices or cost jobs – or both!  Neither of these are good outcomes at any time, but are especially harmful in a struggling economy.