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Published on Friday, March 1, 2013

Projects of statewide significance for economic development and transportation

SB 5805 quietly moved out of the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee on February 22, with only three people having testified on the bill. Now the bill is creating a stir, as opponents of the proposed coal export facility near Bellingham contend that the bill is meant to expedite the permitting of that facility. The prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), says that was not the intent of his bill (see Bellingham Herald article here), which he says was meant to address a gravel shipping terminal in Jefferson County.

In short, this bill amends existing law that sets up a process for expedited permitting of designated projects through a process overseen by the state Office of Regulatory Assistance. We do have some concern that this bill makes it somewhat less clear what the role of local governments would be in that process, and what would be required of them to participate.

With the swirling controversy, the future of the bill is uncertain. It has passed out of the Senate Rules Committee and is eligible for a vote from the full Senate. We will be working to get further clarity. In the meantime, feel free to share your comments or concerns with Dave Catterson.