2023 » 01 January 2023

WACD Operations for January 2023

The information on this page is intended for WACD members and partners. For 2023, information will be reported weekly.

Week 1, January 2-6: Preparing for Legislature / Riparian Task Force report

Week 1: January 2-6

Monday, January 2 was an observed holiday, making this a short week for WACD staff. Both employees in the Olympia office took time off over the holidays and returned to work on January 3. A lot of emails piled up while Tom and Ryan were away so much of week 1 will be spent catching up.

Legislature

The Legislature comes to town next Monday, January 9. Tom and Ryan will be working with lobbyist Brynn Brady to make sure WACD priorities are in play from the very first day. One note on this is that we may need to build support for some of the desires expressed in resolutions. Translation: not everything that was passed by members will result in public-facing action this session. Staff will update the WACD Board at the Board’s January 23rd work session.

Tom and Ryan are looking for a hotel in Olympia for the February 8th WACD Legislative Day event. We need room for 25-30 people, some government-rate rooms for the night of February 7, free/complimentary parking, and breakfast served on February 8.

As noted last month regarding priorities for legislation and budget:

We published the 2023 Legislative Priorities just before the WACD annual conference. There was some modification of the priorities that arose from the adoption of particular resolutions and from discussion and decision during the annual business meeting. More to come on this.

With the release of the Governor’s budget, we learned of the proposed funding of riparian restoration work to the tune of $100 million. Find all data on the OFM website as well as a summary of proposed funding packages for the State Conservation Commission.

We are hearing that Representative Gregerson wishes to resume action on her conservation district elections bill, HB 1910. WACD members recently voted to the Conservation Commission’s proposal to advance the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Elections with the addition of financial reporting through the Commission. Click here to find WACD’s previous coverage on conservation district elections.

Legislative Team (Commission+WACD)

The Legislative Team met for the first time this session on Friday to come up to speed on committee chairs, bills that are beginning to drop, and any significant issues that are emerging. One such issue is conservation district elections where our strategy from last session may need to shift. More on that as it develops.

Riparian Taskforce

Brynn alerted Tom and Ryan to the final report of the riparian taskforce. A link to that document is posted to the WACD Reading List, easily found under the #RIPARIAN and #SALMONIDS tags. If you’d rather jump straight to the PDF, click here.

Website

Website performance has been suffering for both sites (https://wadistricts.org and https://hub.wadistricts.org). Availability and speed for both sites have not been as good as desired. Moving to a different host or platform could resolve these issues but would be a major undertaking. We saw this same thing last year during the late fall and through the legislative session. Tom is reviewing options.

Week 2, January 9-13: Legislature has convened / Hearings/ PMC in the news

Week 2: January 9-13

Legislature convened January 9

On January 9th, the Legislature opened the 2023 session. WACD will get a 2023 Watch List page up very soon (edit: the draft Watch List page is now available).

WACD’s testimony on SB 5187 concerning operating budget appropriations took place on Tuesday. Click here to view it on TVW.

WACD staff plan to testify (or submit testimony) in favor of the operating budget bill, HB 1140, on Wednesday. This is the bill that includes the very large proposed budget for voluntary conservation approaches/practices.

Hearings attended

  • Tuesday, 1/10/23
    • SB 5187, Senate Ways & Means Committee, on operating budget appropriations. WACD testified PRO.
  • Wednesday, 1/11/23
    • HB 1105, House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee, on requiring public agencies to provide notice for public comment that includes the last date by which such public comment must be submitted. HB 1105 proposes a monetary penalty for failure to comply.
    • HB 1140, House Appropriations Committee, on operating budget appropriations. WACD testified PRO.
  • Thursday, 1/12/23
    • HB 1147, House Capital Budget Committee, concerning the capital budget. WACD testified PRO.
    • SB 5200, Senate Ways & Means Committee, concerning the capital budget. WACD testified PRO.
  • Friday, 1/13/23
    • HB 1138, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, concerning drought preparedness. WACD signed in as PRO.

You can see a summary of bills we are watching and any actions we take in the 2023 Legislative Watch List. This year, columns in the table can be sorted and the table can be exported in various formats. Pro tip: download the table in PDF and print it out if you want to have a copy with you. The Watch List has been promoted to the main menu bar of the Hub website to make it easier for members and partners to find this information.

Puget Sound Conservation Districts Caucus

The PSCDC met on Monday, January 9th.

According to Dana Coggon, Pierce CD Executive Director, Pierce CD ratified their union contract just before the holidays. This makes three Washington State conservation districts where the staff has joined a union: King CD, Thurston CD, and now Pierce CD. Unionization efforts are continuing in some other conservation districts.

Plant Materials Center in the news

Here’s a great article on goskagit.com about WACD’s Plant Materials Center.

Pine Creek: District of the Year

Ryan was quoted by the Whitman County Gazette in a January 5 article titled Pine Creek wins WACD District of the Year:

Conservation District of the year is one of many awards awarded by the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD), explained Director of Member and Legislative Services, Ryan Baye, adding that nominations come from the Washington State Conservation Commission. The award takes into consideration the accountability and governance of the different conservation districts.

 

Baye explained that this year two districts were selected by a special awards committee. The two districts awarded were Pine Creek Conservation, and Clark County Conservation District.

 

“WACD selected Pine Creek, because of how quickly they had been able to turn around the district,” Baye said, “and all the amazing projects that Casey Lowder has initiated within his year in the district.”

Taxes

CPA Michael Wittenberg has completed the draft tax return for the year ending June 30, 2022. Lori McLaughlin is reviewing it.

Week 3, January 16-20: Testimony / Refunds / Commission meeting

Week 3: January 16-20

Testimony

The most significant bill where WACD testified this week was HB 1215 on riparian management zones. WACD is a bit conflicted within the membership with some districts supporting the bill and some decrying it as pulling districts into a regulatory scheme. WACD testified OTHER on HB 1215.

We also testified as OTHER on HB 1166, the climate resiliency bill.

Taxes

The tax return is final and guidance has been provided to staff on paying quarterly payments to the IRS.

WACD annual conference refunds

WACD refunded registration fees to registrants who canceled their in-person attendance at the WACD annual conference at the end of November. However, we retained $100/district which was the amount charged for virtual attendance. Tom signed all the checks on Friday of this week and dropped those payments into the mail.

SCC meeting

Ryan attended the State Conservation Commission in person and Tom attended virtually.

Week 4, January 23-27: WACD Board meeting / Election bill filed / PMC visit

Week 4: January 23-27

House Bill 1381

The week opened with a hearing on House Bill 1381 “Concerning salmon-safe communities”. WACD signed in as PRO on this bill. HB 1381 brings municipalities with NPDES-permitted facilities into the equation of reducing stream temperatures. While HB 1381 has little direct impact on conservation districts, it helps to expand the conversation and extend awareness that agriculture is not solely responsible for increased stream temperatures.

WACD Board of Directors meeting

Monday evening was the Board’s meeting. Originally scheduled as a work session, President Mumford switched this to a regular Board meeting because of some decisions that needed to be made by the Board.

2022 Eugene Schloz award presented

Tom made the trek to the Snohomish CD board meeting on Tuesday to present Mark Craven with the 2022 Eugene Schloz Supervisor of the Year Award in person. The Eugene Schloz award is named after a long-time Grays Harbor CD supervisor who was deeply committed to advancing the cause of local conservation districts. The WACD description for this award is:

An active district supervisor or associate supervisor who made an especially valuable contribution to district conservation programs or to the state conservation movement.

Election bill filed

House Bill 1567 Commissioning a study on conservation district election costs under Title 29A RCW was filed on Wednesday, January 25. It refers to gathering data going back 20 years but there is a problem with that: conservation districts are not required to keep election records that far back. WACD and Conservation Commission staff are evaluating the bill language.

In-person visit to the PMC

Tom met with PMC staff for 2-1/2 hours to discuss various operating concerns. Tom also filed a lost title replacement request so that we can sell the old Lincoln.

Partnering

Tom reached out to the Executive Director of Washington FFA to see if there might be opportunities for WACD to support or partner with FFA. Some FFA chapters operate small greenhouses with a focus on horticultural plants. Part of the reason to build a bridge with FFA is the possibility of interest in propagating native plants for riparian projects in greenhouses or small field plots.

MVP added to the Hub website

WACD’s mission, vision, and guiding principles (our MVP) were not easily found on the website. Tom added a page to make this easier to locate. Find it at https://hub.wadistricts.org/wacd/mission-vision-principles/

Week 5, January 30-February 3: Watch List / Hub spam

Week 5: January 30-February 3

Bills must move by February 17

Legislative Watch List: more bills added

We started the week by adding some new bills that were filed over the last handful of days. The Watch List has been updated. New bills as of Monday morning:

  • HB 1365 Improving Puget Sound water quality
  • HB 1421 Adding counties to the voluntary stewardship program
  • HB 1664 Ensuring rural representation on the environmental justice council
  • SB 5628 Preserving water rights for farmland and economic development

And later in the week, even more bills were added. Activity is heating up as the first cutoff date approaches.

Spam coming to us through Hub contact form

Spam has been coming to Ryan and Tom via the Hub’s contact form. Some of the content is a little “unsavory” so Tom implemented a reCAPTCHA filter on Monday. We’ll see how well it works to keep that content out of our inboxes. Hopefully, the filter won’t make it more difficult for legitimate comments to be submitted to WACD.

Awards delivered

Tom attended the Palouse CD annual meeting to deliver the President’s Award plaque to Jennifer Boie. That meeting was very well attended. The district of the year plaque for the Pine Creek CD was also hand-delivered to the PCCD manager, Casey Lowder.

Traveling to the Palouse meeting, Tom stopped at the Central/Eastern Klickitat CD office in Goldendale to visit with manager Loren Meagher. Mike Tobin, the North Yakima CD manager, was also present. The conversation was constructive and helpful.

Returning from the Palouse meeting, Tom also stopped at the Asotin County Conservation District to visit with manager Meghan Stewart. After that meeting, he received an email notice from the Palouse CD that someone at their event tested positive the next day for COVID 19.  Because of that, Tom did not attend the Clark CD board meeting on Thursday morning and instead hand-delivered Clark’s district of the year plaque to manager Zorah Oppenheimer in their new office in Vancouver.

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