“I’m generally happy with the way session is going,” said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen.
“I think that we’re going to be able to keep our promise to the families of the 19th District who want to attend college or technical school, make sure that program is secure in the budget,” said Blake. “I think it’s going to lead to a lot of opportunity for the families in the 19th and along the coast of Washington to get the schooling they need to escape poverty.”
The Workforce Education Investment Act passed by the Legislature last year provides a full-tuition scholarship to college or apprenticeship training for families with in income of $50,000 or less. The House 2020 proposed supplemental operating budget calls for a one-time transfer of $42.3 million to the Workforce Education Investment Account which, through funds collected via a surcharge on job sectors like law, engineering, technology and others, funds the Washington College Grant, formerly the State Need Grant.
Blake said a main focus of his has been “seeing that Fish and Wildlife is fully funded with general fund money. During the big recession the agency was whacked pretty hard, and it really led to them not being able to up hatchery production and some other efforts that I would like to see.”
Over time he’d like to see facilities like the Humptulips, Bingham Creek, the hatcheries on the Willapa and others across the state ramp up to full capacity, or close to it.
“I think the severe cuts in production we’ve seen over the last few decades are creating some of the problems that we’re seeing now with fisheries being shut down and whales starving,” said Blake.
The current House proposed operating budget includes $50.8 million over the next four years toward Fish and Wildlife’s operating budget.
Blake has some other legislation moving through the system, including House Bill 2868 to extend tax credits for historical buildings, which passed the House easily and now appears to be headed for a Senate vote. And a bill to streamline fire and other trailer registration for loggers and other users, House Bill 2353, also easily passed the House and just had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Transportation.
“It’s a small bill, but it will be very helpful to the folks required to have those in the woods during fire season,” said Blake.
House Bill 2250, which expands the Fish and Wildlife program to remove derelict crab fishing gear during the May through September season, easily passed the House and had a public hearing in a Senate committee Feb. 25.