State Senate approves slimmed-down companion version of Rep. Liz Pike’s short-line railroad development jobs bill

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Senate voted Tuesday to approve a bill that would change the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow limited development along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County.

Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas
Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas

Senate Bill 5517, which passed the Senate 37-10, is a companion measure to House Bill 1504, prime-sponsored by Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas. Pike’s bill, which passed both the House and Senate during the regular session, but was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, would have allowed limited development of freight-rail-dependent facilities along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County and adjacent to all short-line railroads in Eastern Washington.

In his veto message, the governor argued House Bill 1504 would have opened too much agricultural land for industrial development.

“After Governor Inslee vetoed my bill, I immediately began working with his staff to find a compromise solution the governor would accept. This issue is just too important to our local economy and has the potential to bring thousands of jobs to Clark County,” said Pike, who has worked on the legislation for about two years.

Pike says to address the governor’s concerns, the Senate version is more narrowly written and removes Eastern Washington from qualifying. She said the amended measure preserves the original intent of her bill, which was to allow development of lands adjacent to short-line rail in Clark County for jobs.

“After the veto, I tried for legislation that would have included Clark County and three Eastern Washington counties. I was informed last week the governor has agreed to a Clark County-only version,” added Pike. “While I’d hoped for a broader application of this much needed change to the GMA, I am thrilled the negotiations may result in this important land use policy reform becoming law.”

The measure still must gain approval in the House. Pike, whose earlier bill had passed the House 81-16, is confident the Senate version will receive similar strong bipartisan support in the House.

“I appreciate Senate leadership keeping this important policy alive. I will work hard to move the new version through the House and Senate so that we can get this done before the Legislature adjourns for the year,” said Pike. “I will also continue to work with the governor’s office to bring him a bill he’s willing to sign that opens opportunities to create jobs and enhance our rural economy.”

Information provided by Washington State House Republican Communications, houserepublicans.wa.gov

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