2006 Legislative Report Card
Generally, it was an excellent legislative session, but there is still some room to improve. The Legislature passed three out of four of the environmental community priorities (Renewable Fuels, Puget Sound Sewage, and E-Waste Recycling). Though it didn’t pass, we made significant progress on the fourth, phasing out toxic flame retardants. What’s more, the environmental community managed to either kill all the bills we opposed or amend them to the point of neutrality. We did not have any significant veto requests this session, and the Legislature preserved our state’s growth management laws.
Judging from the past two sessions, the answer is clearly “Yes, Washington State is a national environmental leader.” In the last two years, the Legislature passed a number of bills that make Washington a national leader solving environmental problems. Some represent local problems with our own solutions, such as the bill to limit the phosphorus content of automatic dishwashing detergent. Others represent national issues where we’re on the cutting edge of environmental policy, like requiring manufacturers to pay for electronic waste recycling programs.
Despite the progress of the past couple of years, many environmental problems remain unresolved. Even though the Legislature has passed some important bills, many others have died, allowing important environmental problems to continue.
Senator Phil Rockefeller (D-23, Bainbridge Island) earns our award for 2006 Senator of the Year. Senator Rockefeller serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Water, Energy, and Environment Committee where his thoughtful leadership improves every piece of legislation that moves through the committee.
He earns the award primarily for his work to clean up and restore Puget Sound and for his efforts to help pass the Renewable Fuels legislation. Senator Rockefeller also works closely with the environmental community on lobbying strategy. His constituents should be proud of the way he blends his strong environmental values with a keen sense for pragmatic environmental policies that will work in the real world.
Representative Hans Dunshee (D-44, Snohomish) is our 2006 Representative of the Year. While Representative Dunshee was instrumental in helping pass the Renewable Fuels legislation this year, and securing funds to implement the bill, he wins the award primarily for all his efforts behind the scenes.
As one of the most dedicated environmentalists in the Legislature, Representative Dunshee helps sharpen the environmental community’s effectiveness in Olympia. He helps improve our communication with key swing votes, and he uses his own political capital to help keep environmental issues near the top of the agenda for the House Democratic Caucus. Perhaps most importantly, he’s helped us develop and expand our list of environmental champions.
The following legislators go beyond simply voting for the environment; they work behind the scenes in a variety of ways. Sometimes they sponsor bills and shepherd them through the gauntlet of committee hearings, floor votes, and amendments. Other times they work closely with the environmental community to develop effective strategies and to improve our communications with other important legislators.
In recent years, we’ve noticed that many legislators are showing more of an interest in working collaboratively with the environmental community. Each legislator certainly has their own motivations; perhaps they’ve learned more about a particular issue, or had other personal experiences that shape their views. Maybe the environmental community deserves some of the credit as well for being easier to work with. Perhaps it’s just politics. Whatever the reasons, there are a number of legislators whose improvement we would like to acknowledge.
While the electoral process helps to ensure legislators stay in step with their districts, there are some who fail to recognize how important the environment is to their constituents.
The following legislators voted against every environmental bill on our 2006 report card.
On the last day for bills to pass out of the House, a prominent legislative leader, wrapped up in tense negotiations, accidentally voted against the phosphorous bill.
In this report card for the 2006 Washington State Legislative Session, we analyze and grade the performance of the individual legislators, and the Legislature as a whole.