Greetings – This week was the first of the 2020 legislative session. This year is a “short” 60-day session, meaning lawmakers only have two months to get bills to the Governor’s desk. We’ll have a couple of weeks of public hearings on legislation, and then things will start moving quickly as we pass bills over to the House and then consider House bills here in the Senate.

There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. I am focused on a number of issues including orca and salmon recovery, reasonable gun safety regulations, protecting Washington water against Wall Street speculators, and criminal justice reform.

I’ll be sending you periodic updates throughout the legislative session letting you know what I’m working on this year on your behalf. This week I outline Senate Bill 6147 which I have introduced to increase salmon and orca populations.

When bulkheads and seawalls are installed, the natural process of beach and sand erosion is disrupted. This causes a chain reaction of negative environmental impacts including the disruption of fish habitats. Most notably, this hurts our salmon and precious orca whales and their ability to survive.

A lack of adequate salmon population has been identified as one of the factors jeopardizing the Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Orca population. Last year the Legislature took a good step in the right direction by limiting the expansion of these bulkheads. But there’s still more work to be done to protect salmon habitats and our orca population.

My bill requires the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider the least environmentally disruptive alternatives when issuing a permit to repair or replace bulkheads. Their current practice is to simply permit new and destructive bulkhead replacements without looking at whether erosion protection can be achieved in a way that doesn’t destroy habitat.

This is a common-sense solution to a serious problem. There are no mandates. Property owners won’t be forced into an alternative they don’t want. But as these bulkheads and seawalls need to be repaired or replaced, property owners should implement alternative options that protect their property with less disruption to the environment.

SB 6147 had a public hearing this week in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee. You can watch it by clicking here or clicking on the video below.

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Thank you for the opportunity to be your voice in the state Senate. As always, please share any questions, comments, and concerns you may have about legislation under consideration in the Legislature. I welcome your feedback.

Sen. Jesse Salomon
32nd Legislative District