Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There's renewed hope a bill that could create thousands of new jobs along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County could become law.
As you may remember, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed House Bill 1504. This is a measure I authored that would have allowed limited development of freight-rail-dependent facilities along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County and adjacent to all short-line railroads in Eastern Washington. In his veto message, the governor argued the bill would have threatened farmland, stating “It would undermine our longstanding commitment to preserve working farms and promote our agriculture economy.”
Washington State Farm Bureau Associate Director of Government Relations Mark Streuli said the bill would not have harmed agriculture.
“We're not talking about prime farmland,” Streuli told The Capital Press. “The land we're talking about is right along the railroad, not real useful for growing stuff, but it is useful for building stuff that might be useful for agriculture.”
I have since been working with the governor's staff to seek legislation that would meet his approval. On Friday, I was notified the governor would accept a Senate bill that would limit development to Clark County. Yesterday, that measure, Senate Bill 5517, passed the Senate 37-10. It still must be approved in the House.
This morning, I issued a press release expressing my appreciation to Senate leadership for keeping this important policy alive. You can read that press release here.
I also talked about the issue this afternoon on the Lars Larson Show on KXL Radio in Portland. You can listen to that interview here.
I will continue working on this issue to not only pass the bill from the House and get it to the governor's desk, but most importantly, to get the measure signed into law.
I welcome your thoughts and comments as we move forward.
"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"