(360) 786-7636|Dean.Takko@leg.wa.gov

News Release

Takko secures funding for drug task force in Pacific County

March 12th, 2020|

Pacific County will receive $391,000 in state funding to establish a drug task force to coordinate between local law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations, thanks to a budget proviso added by Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview).

“This has been a goal of mine for a long time,” said Takko. “The community brought this problem to me, and I’m glad we can provide law enforcement the resources they need to keep our county safe.”

Pacific County had a drug task force from 2006 to 2015, paid for jointly by state, federal, and local money, but it was disbanded in 2015 due to lack of funding.

“This is huge for us,” said Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir. “One of the big issues here we have is the drug problem. We don’t have dedicated and sustainable funding. As a rural county, there’s no way we could fund a program on our own. This will allow us to coordinate with the South Bend Police, the Raymond Police, and the Long Beach Police to take on drug trafficking.”

According to the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington, the number of drug cases across the state has ticked up in recent years.

There are several federal drug enforcement funding programs that provide grants to local law enforcement, but Pacific County does not qualify for these because there is no active federal border patrol presence. This makes the state funding all the more crucial.

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    Takko secures $700,000 to cut traffic congestion in Aberdeen

Takko secures $700,000 to cut traffic congestion in Aberdeen

March 11th, 2020|

The City of Aberdeen will receive $700,000 for the US 12 Highway-Rail Separation Project, thanks to a provision added to the Legislature’s final transportation budget by Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview).

The money will fund preliminary work for an overpass and roundabout to raise South Chehalis Street above US 12 and Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad, where train traffic regularly causes congestion and backups on US 12.

The number of freight trains traveling along this corridor has significantly increased over the past 15 years and is predicted to continue growing in the coming decades.

The Port of Grays Harbor, at the western end of the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad, is the closest port to Seattle with direct access to the ocean and is crucial for transporting timber, agricultural products, and autos, among other goods.

“This funding is crucial because it keeps this project moving and positions us competitively for big federal transportation grants,” said Takko. “Having more freight trains on the tracks is a sign of a strong economy — a good problem to have — but we need the overpass to cut down on traffic jams when those trains come through town.”

Without this funding, the project would miss a key deadline and the planning process would need to be restarted, setting the work back by months and costing an additional $300,000. The state’s $700,000 will help get the project construction ready by 2023, which will make it more competitive for federal INFRA and BUILD grant programs.

Local support for the project is strong. The City of Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County, and the Port of Grays Harbor together have committed $700,000 to match the state’s appropriation.

A 2019 cost-benefit analysis calculated that this project will return a benefit of $1.72 for every $1.00 invested.

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    Senate budget adds $5 million to help rural exporters hurt by coronavirus

Senate budget adds $5 million to help rural exporters hurt by coronavirus

February 27th, 2020|

The operating budget passed today by the Senate would add $5 million in assistance for local businesses whose trade has been decimated by international reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, at the request of state lawmakers representing the 19th and 24th legislative districts.

Though the funds may be requested by a number of disrupted businesses, the urgent need for help was highlighted by the example of Cosmo Specialty Fibers, a Cosmopolis textile producer that does more than 97 percent of its business with companies in Asia. With ports there closed for fear of spreading coronavirus, and with much of the countries’ workforces under quarantine, businesses there are unable to accept products or operate plants that would use the products.

“This is a local business that has thrived despite disruptive tariff and trade wars, pays its employees strong wages, and has robust potential to expand, but it’s been thrown for a loop,” said Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview), who sponsored an amendment to increase the funding pot by $3 million. “They’ve done all the right things, but through no fault of their own they haven’t received a single order in more than seven weeks, and their vessels are stranded at sea loaded with products they cannot deliver.”

The assistance will come from the state’s strategic reserve account to promote economic development, which is funded by a third of all unclaimed lottery money. The account is allocated through the state’s 39 county associate development organizations.

“Local businesses like Cosmo are the lifeblood and future in rural communities in regions like ours,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), who cosponsored Takko’s amendment. “Cosmo is a very well-run company that makes environmentally friendly products and is considering a major expansion in the area of biofuel — but the stoppage of trade could mean the end of all of that.”

The operating budget had already provided $2 million for the account, much of which was already spoken for. Budget writers added $2 million in new funds on top of that, and the $3 million in Takko’s amendment means a total of $5 million in new funds.

Takko and Van De Wege and the four other area lawmakers in the Coastal Caucus plan to seek additional assistance, beyond the operating budget funds, and are in discussions with the governor’s office and the state Commerce Department to explore grants and low-interest loans.

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    Bipartisan group of legislators pushes for faster action on Kalama methanol project

Bipartisan group of legislators pushes for faster action on Kalama methanol project

January 27th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – As the Department of Ecology prepares for additional environmental review for the proposed Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility, a bipartisan group of legislators organized by Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview) sent the following letter to Gov. Jay Inslee urging immediate efforts to produce an outcome that meets the community’s environmental and economic needs:

Dear Governor Jay Inslee,

We are writing to request clarification and immediate efforts regarding a series of recent departmental and executive actions impacting the Northwest Innovation Works, Kalama Manufacturing & Marine Export Facility. These actions include the Department of Ecology’s determination requiring a Second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Second SEIS), your Directive of the Governor 19-18 regarding Environmental Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and a $600,000 appropriation request in your proposed 2020 Supplemental Budget to perform the second SEIS.[1]

A collaborative and transparent permitting process is key to attracting and retaining family wage jobs in rural communities while promoting high environmental standards. After nearly six years of permitting and associated SEPA process, subjecting the Kalama project to a replacement round of unspecified environmental review is both unnecessary and heavy with implications for the economic development interests of the state.

While meaningful progress has been made, Cowlitz County is one of several counties that continues to struggle with higher unemployment, lower wages, and lower labor participation rates than the statewide average. The Kalama project would provide a needed boost to its local economy, creating one thousand construction jobs and two hundred permanent jobs. And it is setting new standards for environmental sustainability, including 100% GHG neutral operations regionally with significant reductions globally.

We are motivated to support a process of environmental review that is comprehensive, fair, and without unreasonable delay. We are concerned that the latest round of announcements has diminished the confidence of stakeholders that the motive of the Department is substantive. Ecology dismissed a detailed response from Cowlitz County to its questions and determined that a Second SEIS was to be required without clarifying which, if any, of their questions remained unanswered nor why it was necessary to abandon a dialogue and pursue its own multi-year environmental review process.

Rather than replicate an entire SEIS, the Department should clarify which questions, if any, remain and undertake further limited review and identify the most efficient means to remedy any concerns that arise. In the Department’s October 9, 2019 request for more information from Cowlitz County, the Department found it reasonable to request answers to its questions within 30 days. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the department can fulfill its inquiry on a similar timetable through continued cooperative efforts within the current longstanding process rather than through this unnecessary and redundant effort at considerable cost to the state.

We are urging regulators to work together in a constructive manner to produce an outcome that meets the state’s environmental oversight and economic development needs. However, starting over with a new SEIS that will needlessly cost the taxpayers $600,000 and take months or years to complete is unreasonable and unacceptable. At this time, we believe that it is prudent for Ecology to articulate in very specific terms the concerns it has with the current SEIS and to work with Cowlitz County and local SEPA responsible officials to come back to the table and resolve this unnecessary impasse.

In this context, we are also requesting clarification of the motivating factors and intent of Directive 19-18, and the underlying authorities being claimed to support the development of new rules. We do not believe this Directive, which delays the implementation of rules until 2021, should be used to justify further delay of the Kalama project SEIS by the Department and we seek assurances this is not the case.

Rebuilding stakeholder confidence in Ecology’s role in the regulatory oversight of the Kalama project starts with a renewed commitment to enhancing the communication between the Department of Ecology, Cowlitz County, and the Port of Kalama, with the continued cooperation and active efforts of Northwest Innovation Works. It is our expectation that the Department engage meaningfully to resolve remaining questions and reach a timely permitting decision within an already robust and extensive process.

In numerous conversations, both public and private, you have expressed your care and concern for rural communities. Together, let’s send the message that Washington can set exemplary environmental standards and stay open for business.

Sincerely,

Senator Dean Takko

Senator John Braun

Senator Lynda Wilson

Senator Ann Rivers

Representative Brian Blake

Representative Jim Walsh

Representative Orcutt

Representative Mike Chapman

CC

Senator Christine Rolfes, Chair, Senate Ways and Means

Senator David Frockt, Vice Chair, Senate Ways and Means

Representative Timm Ormsby, Chair, House Appropriations

Representative June Robinson, Vice Chair, House Appropriations

[1] Ecology SEPA Analysis (Budget summary, Page 167, Item 18): https://ofm.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/budget/statebudget/20supp/2020SuppRecSumsCLvNL.pdf