Rep. Liz Pike responds to Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of short-line rail jobs development bill

OLYMPIA — Rep. Liz Pike issued a statement Tuesday after Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed her measure, House Bill 1504.

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

The measure would have allowed limited development of freight rail dependent facilities along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County and adjacent to short-line railroads in Eastern Washington:

“I’m extremely disappointed Governor Inslee has chosen to veto this bipartisan employment-creation bill that could have opened the doors to thousands of new manufacturing jobs in rural Clark County and across Eastern Washington,’’ Pike said. “The governor frequently talks about job creation in our state, but today’s veto proves that protecting the state’s overly-restrictive, bureaucratic 27-year-old Growth Management Act (GMA) is far more important to him than improving our state’s economy and providing jobs that would have put food on the table for thousands of Washington families.

“I’ve worked hard on this issue for more than two years because existing GMA laws forced the Columbia River Economic Development Council to turn away four new companies who wanted to locate along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in southwest Washington,’’ Pike said. “They were looking for land with rail access and could have potentially created as many as 7,300 manufacturing jobs in Clark County. These are good-paying jobs that will never come to Clark County now because of this action today by the governor.

“I worked with Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, the Democratic chair of the House Environment Committee, to address concerns about protecting the environment. Together, we kept the bill limited so that cities and counties who are most familiar with their local lands and growth challenges could make the best and final decisions of whether to allow controlled development adjacent to short-line railroads in Eastern Washington and Clark County. As a result of these extensive efforts, the bill had broad bipartisan support, with nine Democrat and 14 Republican sponsors. It first passed the House 83-14 and the Senate 41-8. The second time in the House during concurrence, it passed 81-16.

“This was one of the few meaningful job-creation bills to pass the Legislature during the 2017 session,’’ Pike said. “Obviously, legislators from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate agreed it is time to make some needed reforms to the old GMA law and unshackle the chains that have unreasonably stifled job creation in areas that made sense for new employment. I don’t understand how the governor could ignore such bipartisan support. Most disappointingly, however, is that Governor Inslee has once again shown that job creation and the economic vitality of those citizens who live beyond what he can see from the top of the Seattle Space Needle is just not important to him.”

See veto message here.

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

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