2019 legislative session results overall good for forestland owners

AshleyNEWS

The 2019 legislative session wrapped up with a flurry of activity during the final days of the session. Around-the-clock legislating happened as lawmakers worked to conclude on time.

A whopping 2,208 bills were introduced over the course of the 105-day session. Things moved fast; capacity was stretched thin. But from that hard work, groundbreaking new policies in environmental law, tax policy, higher education and civil rights were passed across state government.

It was, without a doubt, a historic session for the Washington State Legislature.

The forestry industry also experienced some legislative victories. Lawmakers again demonstrated the importance of working forests and the vital role forestland owners play with key policies championed by the Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA). The WFPA would like to thank lawmakers and partners for their support.

Future in-depth posts will focus on individual bills to provide context and analysis on their impacts on forestland owners. However, it’s worth noting the positive steps made this past session for forest landowners.

Proactive legislation was passed that recognizes the value of working forests. This includes individual bills that direct forest health treatments to prioritize the protection of public lands, provide notice in real estate disclosures of the litigation protection provided to working forests, help provide for the needs of small forest landowners as the Forest and Fish Law celebrated 20 years, create the opportunity for landowners to educate legislators about the value of aerial herbicide applications, recognize the carbon sequestration value of forests, and extend the forest products preferential business and occupation rate out until the year 2045.

Of course, the story of a session isn’t always what passed. It also includes what didn’t pass or what protections were provided in bills that did pass. The 2019 session was no exception. The value of working lands was recognized in an exemption to an increase in the real estate excise tax and clarity in certain Orca-related salmon habitat bills that forest landowners have already done their part in recovery. The impact of other bills was softened as they went through the process.

All in all, it was a good session for forest landowners. Appreciation is due to many legislators who showed their support for working forests and countless other advocates working the halls in Olympia. Stay tuned for more specific post-session thoughts. But for now, hats off to our legislators and to WFPA partners for supporting working forests over the grueling past 105 days!