Governor signs Hawkins’ timber, transportation bills

OLYMPIA…The first bill Sen. Brad Hawkins introduced as a state senator has also become his first Senate bill to receive Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature.

Senate Bill 5270, which has to do with harvesting timber from state-owned lands, is one of two Hawkins bills endorsed today by the governor during a bill-signing ceremony at the state Capitol. The second measure, Senate Bill 5649, allows Okanogan County to form a Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

“Both of these bills signed today affect the 12th Legislative District. Considering most legislation doesn’t make it this far, I’m glad they will become law,” said Hawkins, who serves the 12th Legislative District.

SB 5720, passed unanimously by both legislative chambers, removes the “temporary” label from the contract-timber harvest program operated by the state Department of Natural Resources. The program allows the agency to hire someone to harvest timber and sort the logs, after which DNR can sell them. It began in 2003 and was expanded by lawmakers in 2009.

Hawkins introduced SB 5649 at the request of Okanogan County, one of three counties in Washington not involved in a Regional Transportation Planning Organization. RTPOs exist primarily to prepare regional transportation plans and to coordinate planning efforts within counties.

Chelan and Douglas counties had formed an RPTO together in 2013. Hawkins’ bill changes the population requirement in state law that was preventing Okanogan County from forming its own RTPO.

Both new laws take effect 90 days after lawmakers wrap up their regular session, which will be no later than Sunday.