Hawkins’ Leavenworth pilot project bill clears Senate

Wearing his Leavenworth pin, Senator Brad Hawkins encouraged the state Senate to support his bill to address an unusual situation involving Leavenworth’s disposal of brush and yard waste. The Senate approved the bill unanimously.

OLYMPIA… Sen. Brad Hawkins’ legislation to help Leavenworth respond to a boundary change for Washington’s apple maggot quarantine area received a unanimous vote today from the state Senate.

Recent adjustments to the quarantine area created complications for the City of Leavenworth. Hawkins, who represents Leavenworth in the 12th Legislative District, learned during his October listening tour that the boundary change prohibits the city from transporting its brush and yard waste toward Wenatchee. Chipping the entirety of the brush is not realistic, and hauling the waste over 100 miles west for disposal is costly and has other disadvantages.

Hawkins’ bipartisan solution, Senate Bill 6055, would allow Leavenworth and three other affected municipalities to burn their brush and yard waste two times per year as part of a pilot project. The project will show whether two highly coordinated burns annually would offer an acceptable alternative to hauling the waste to a faraway disposal site. The Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee endorsed an updated version of his proposal Jan. 31, following testimony from Leavenworth and Chelan County officials.

“This unusual situation puts Leavenworth between a rock and a hard place. The idea of burning the brush and yard waste is worth exploring, but at the same time all of us are sensitive to concerns about how burning might affect local air quality. This bill strikes the right balance by limiting the number of burns,” Hawkins explained.

“I worked hard prior to our session to gather feedback from the Departments of Agriculture and Ecology and support from my Democratic colleagues on the committee. I also worked closely with the City of Leavenworth and Chelan County to improve the proposal during the session. This is another example of what we can do when we work together,” said Hawkins.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Leavenworth councilmember Sharon Waters, city administrator Joel Walinski, and councilmember Margaret Neighbors were among the local officials who testified in January in support of SB 6055.