Barkis celebrates two important bills being signed into law

A bill modifying the current fee structure for surface mining, and another reducing the current growth management restrictions on school siting were recently signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

State law requires a surface mining program to pay for itself through fees paid by miners. This is not possible under the current fee structure. House Bill 1406 was the result of a request made by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 2nd Legislative District Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, sponsored the bill expanding and adjusting existing mine reclamation permit fees. Under the Surface Mine Reclamation Act, persons engaging in surface mine activities must have an approved reclamation plan and permit from the DNR to reestablish vegetative cover, soil, stability, and water conditions to areas disturbed by surface mining.

“Surface mining contributes over $400 million to our economy and is vital to infrastructure like roads, buildings and homes,” said Barkis. “A collaborative effort between the DNR, Surface Mining Advisory Committee and their stakeholders came up with this practical fee solution. It’s unique to have this type of support for a fee change. The new restructure provides the DNR with sustainable and predictable funding to continue reclamation programs.”

House Bill 2243, co-sponsored by Barkis, authorizes new school construction outside of designated urban growth areas. The bill also adds accountability measures that will allow the state to track the progress of how many schools are being built, and how many students are being served. This revised school siting bill replaces the partially vetoed House Bill 1017, introduced earlier in the 2017 legislative session.

“With overwhelming bipartisan support, strong input from stakeholders, and the will to do what’s right, we successfully reestablished good policy for not only our rural school districts, but school districts across the state,” said Barkis. “We eliminated the outdated ‘one-size-fits-all’ growth management restrictions impacting school districts in dire need of expansion and new construction. I am proud we found the right solution to benefit, not drain, our schools and, most importantly, our students.”

Both House Bill 1406 and 2243 go into effect later this year.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov