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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

In my Feb. 2 email update, I wrote that I thought it was a big mistake for the majority to decide against holding public hearings on any of the six initiatives Washingtonians sent to the Legislature this year. Early on in session, we were told there simply wasn’t enough time to hold public hearings. Well, something changed between then and halfway through February when majority leaders announced they would indeed hold public hearings—on three of the initiatives, not all six.

I talked about that in my most recent video update, which I recorded last week:

The three initiatives that received public hearings earlier this week and were then advanced out of their respective committees this morning are:

It is likely the majority will advance these initiatives to the House and Senate floors to be voted on before session adjourns on March 7. If they are indeed brought up for a vote and approved by both chambers, they will become law and not be on the ballot in November. If no action is taken, they will be on the ballot with the other three initiatives not considered by the Legislature this session:

Although Republicans fought for public hearings on all six initiatives, the developments of this week represent a big win for those of us working hard to fix Washington.

One of my salmon recovery bills is now on the governor’s desk

With unanimous votes of approval in the House and Senate, a bill I’ve sponsored that aims to study the impacts of avian predation on the health of salmon populations in our state is now on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

House Bill 2293 would establish the Avian Salmon Predation Work Group, which would be comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups, including federally recognized Indian tribes with treaty fishing rights, commercial and recreational fishers, conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The work group’s primary mission would be identifying the specific bird species preying on juvenile salmon, analyzing the extent of their impact at a population level, and determining if these predators pose a threat to the recovery of any endangered salmon species. Based on their findings, the work group would then be tasked with exploring and recommending balanced approaches to address the identified issues, with solutions aimed at ensuring the health of both salmon and bird populations.

Our state’s failure to effectively recover salmon runs impacts every Washingtonian—from landowners to loggers, farmers to fishers, and everyone in between who relies on healthy salmon populations for their livelihoods, sustenance, and cultural heritage. Understanding the role of avian predation is crucial in our efforts to address this significant challenge, restore our runs, and ensure the sustainable future of salmon generations to come. I am heartened by the reception this bill received in the House and Senate and look forward to it becoming law later this year.

My bill to disband the Fish and Wildlife Commission receives a public hearing

On February 7, I sent out a press release formally requesting that the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hold a public hearing on a bill I sponsored this session that would eliminate the state Fish and Wildlife Commission and restructure the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

While the bill will not pass this year, my goal was to start a discussion about the ineffectiveness of the Fish and Wildlife Commission in fulfilling its mandate to “maximize fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreational opportunities compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations.”

House Bill 2434 would transfer all existing powers and duties of the Commission to a single director of WDFW appointed by the governor with House and Senate confirmation. While I’m not sure that’s a perfect solution, and I’ve gone on record saying as much, something needs to change to ensure the Commission is making decisions that are in the best interests of tribal and nontribal hunters and fishers alike.

I have tremendous respect for the chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Mike Chapman, and appreciate our excellent working relationship. Last week, Rep. Chapman decided to hold a public hearing on my bill, which meant a lot to me. Our hunters, fishers, tribal leaders, conservationists, and all who have a stake in the future of our state’s fish and wildlife resources deserve the opportunity to be heard in this critical conversation.

Contacting me

Please continue reaching out to me with your comments, questions and concerns. My email address is JT.Wilcox@leg.wa.gov, and my office number is (360) 786-7912.

Please also continue helping us amplify our message this session as we look to fix Washington. Sign up for text alerts and follow House Republicans on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. I also encourage you to bookmark my legislative website, where you’ll find my latest communications.

It is an honor to serve you.

Sincerely,


J.T. Wilcox

State Representative J.T. Wilcox, 2nd Legislative District
RepresentativeJTWilcox.com
122A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
jt.wilcox@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7912 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000