Monthly Archives: January 2018

  • Permalink Gallery

    Van De Wege named legislator of the year by police, sheriffs

Van De Wege named legislator of the year by police, sheriffs

January 25th, 2018|

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, was named 2017 Legislator of the Year this week by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) for his support of legislation that affects law enforcement agencies and officers.

The 2017 year marked Van De Wege’s first year in the state Senate after serving five terms in the House of Representatives.

“It is with great appreciation that WACOPS selected Se. Van De Wege as the 2017 Senate Democrat Legislator of the Year,” said Teresa Taylor, WACOPS executive director. “Sen. Van De Wege has been a consistent advocate and protector of WACOPS’ collective bargaining, retirement benefits, and labor protections. He is also the cosponsor of legislation to add presumptive disease and PTSD protections for law enforcement.”

The council is a professional organization formed more than 50 years ago to strengthen the rights and quality of life of those who have dedicated their careers to protecting and serving communities across Washington.

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for the men and women in this organization, and a daily appreciation of the valuable input they provide throughout the legislative process,” Van De Wege said. “When you have access to an informed and helpful organization like theirs, it makes it easier for me to do my job as a legislator and craft effective legislation. They make me better.”

  • Permalink Gallery

    Van De Wege: Democratic majority insisted on real answer to Hirst

Van De Wege: Democratic majority insisted on real answer to Hirst

January 18th, 2018|

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, issued the following statement today following the passage of Senate Bill 6091 to address new wells drilled by property owners.

“This legislation responds to Hirst in a fair, measured way. My only regret is that this should have, and could have, been taken care of last session.

“As soon as Democrats won control of the Senate last November, we made it a priority to insist on good-faith negotiations from all corners this session. Once we took politics out of the equation and our state water needs came to the forefront, in two weeks we were able to reconcile a stalemate that had needlessly left all parties in limbo for months. I hope this approach can serve as an example as we deal with other difficult issues this session.

“I suspect no one will be completely happy with this bill, which is probably a good indicator that this legislation does an evenhanded job of balancing competing interests. I know this agreement doesn’t reflect the tribes’ first wish, for instance, but we worked hard to protect tribal interests as well as environmental standards while allowing people to develop properties responsibly. I trust folks will recognize that we did our best to reconcile everyone’s concerns as fairly and practically as possible.

“This is an imperfect answer to a conundrum that defies consensus: the intersection of the state’s centuries-old ‘first in time, first in right’ water laws; sovereign tribal water rights; the never-ending demand for new capacity; and the realities of our limited and diminishing water supply. While imperfect, it is the most reasonable approach available at this time. I think we all realize that managing our finite resources will pose a difficult challenge for years to come.”

  • Permalink Gallery

    Van De Wege telework bill would benefit businesses, reduce traffic

Van De Wege telework bill would benefit businesses, reduce traffic

January 10th, 2018|

Legislation to offer a tax incentive to businesses that let employees telework will be heard next week by the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

“This legislation would reduce by far the single largest cause of traffic, daily commutes, and allow rural employees to work for urban employers,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim and the bill’s sponsor. “This can strengthen rural economies while easing traffic in urban areas and reducing pollution.”

Senate Bill 6016 would apply in the case of employees who are regularly scheduled to work at least 12 days per month, not including Saturdays or Sundays, to perform their normal duties and responsibilities at locations other than their traditional workplace.

“Three types of people will benefit from this: business owners, employees, and anyone who commutes to and from work on congested roads,” Van De Wege said. “This provides a business benefit, an employee benefit, and a public benefit.”

The tax incentive would apply to telework expenditures that exceed the average annual telework expenditures made by the employer in the preceding three calendar years and allow a tax break of $500 per year per employee.

The bill stems from an idea suggested by a constituent, Pat McCauley of InsideOut Solutions, a destination marketing company whose employees have little need to interact with each other.

“A lot of employees just sit at a desk all day and don’t talk to anyone, so why go to an office? It was pointless,” McCauley said. “This way they don’t have to drive to work, they don’t have to eat out, they don’t have to pay for child care or buy clothes, and they have a flexible schedule.”

SB 6016 is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 18 in Senate Hearing Room 4 in the Cherberg Building.

Van De Wege legislation would allow drilling of new wells

January 5th, 2018|

Legislation to enable people to develop property that requires new water rights will be heard Monday by the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee.

Senate Bill 6091, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, would allow property owners to drill new wells and withdraw enough well water for typical household use while their communities develop and adopt plans to permanently govern usage. Under the proposal, counties would have up to five years to implement new watershed plans. As a safeguard, the state Department of Ecology would draft rules as necessary to ensure the plans are workable.

The legislation would provide $200 million for mitigation and related efforts to restore and enhance stream flows and aquatic habitat.

“We want landowners to be able to develop their properties, just as landowners before them have done, but we need to make sure it’s done in ways that don’t violate the water rights of existing users or disrupt stream levels crucial to salmon and other fish,” Van De Wege said. “Negotiating a solution that enables people to develop property without disrupting our state’s water balance is a historically complex challenge. This five-year window is intended to allow the time it will take to devise a solution that balances everyone’s needs fairly and reasonably.”

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 3 in the Cherberg Building.