Friday, July 14, 2017
Two counties won a hard-fought, albeit minor, victory in Gov. Jay Inslee’s signing Senate Bill 5517 into law this past week.
While the measure doesn’t directly affect Yakima, Benton or Klickitat counties, it may open the door for future development here as it does for Okanogan and Clark counties. Under the measure, Okanogan County and incorporated cities may develop regulations to allow for industrial development along railroad tracks.
Unfortunately for the rest of the state, except for another small area along Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County, the Growth Management Act prevents such developments.
Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, had introduced a companion bill in the House that would have allowed all such developments in Eastern Washington’s rural counties as well as along the Chelatchie railroad in her home Clark County. Here in the heart of farmland, removing Growth Management Act restrictions along short line railroads have been welcomed news.
In his flawed analysis, however, Inslee vetoed House Bill 1504. He said allowing such development alongside railroad tracks would create industrial growth while taking too much land out of agricultural production. His lack of foresight on this issue means manufactures who support are agricultural industry will still have to look elsewhere to build.
Pike says she’s happy the scaled-back Senate bill was signed into law because it will mean “new manufacturing job opportunities” for her constituents. Okanogan County, too, stands to see some new industrial opportunities as a result of the bill.
But what about the rest of us here in Eastern Washington looking for economic growth, job creation and a way to move goods to market in business-stifling regulations under the state’s Growth Management Act.
Hopefully, this is just the first victory in the battle to rid ourselves of the law that may fit Western Washington, but certainly not us here in the Yakima Valley, the Colville area, the Palouse and the Columbia Plateau.
And while this bill doesn’t affect most of Eastern Washington directly, it is still a win when it comes to chipping away at burdensome, unnecessary state mandates.