Colleen: Lawmakers plan how to spend excess Climate Commitment Act funds

Jan 5, 2024, 2:27 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm

Climate Commitment Act...

DOT, WASHINGTON - JULY 23: The burned remnants of an historic grange are seen near a wind farm after the Newell Road Fire moved through on July 23, 2023 in Dot, Washington. Dry and windy weather has fueled wildfires in Washington state, including the large Newell Road Fire, which has reached about 50,000 acres in size. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The 2024 Legislative Session begins on Monday, January 8th. One of the tasks lawmakers will tackle is figuring out how to spend the excess revenue from the Climate Commitment Act. The tax on polluters brought in about $940 million.

“We will be spending a lot of our time looking at how can we invest those dollars in ways that have the biggest impact for people of our state,” State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon said.

More from Colleen O’Brien: Sen. Randall wants federal funding for Washington ferries

Fitzgibbon, as the Democratic House Majority Leader, will be one of the main negotiators when it comes to spending this money. He’s aware of a potential initiative to repeal the Climate Commitment Act that could appear on the November ballot and calls to refund constituents instead of spending the excess money on climate projects.

But Fitzgibbon said a number of ideas are being floated, including replacing aging school busses.

“One of the priorities I’m excited about is to help transition more of our school bus fleet from diesel busses to electric busses,” he said. “We know a lot about the impact on kids’ health, kids’ respiratory health, and kids’ cognitive and emotional development from bad air pollution.”

The governor has also proposed utility assistance for low and middle-income Washingtonians.

You can listen here to KIRO Newsradio’s Matt Markovich and Rep. Fitzgibbon talk about legislative plans on police accountability, car theft, the fentanyl crisis and the police pursuit law.

Rep. Barkis talks graffiti cleanup in Washington state

We have a few crusades on Seattle’s Morning News: I want the Ship Canal Bridge to look less like a patchwork quilt, Sully would like every driver to learn how to zipper merge, and Dave would like to see graffiti eliminated from the face of the earth. Well, maybe just the Seattle area to start.

So, imagine Dave’s excitement when a bill was pre-filed ahead of the Jan. 8 Legislative Session that would create a graffiti abatement and reduction program. House Bill 1989 is sponsored by Republican Representative Andrew Barkis, who represents Washington’s 2nd Legislative District covering south Pierce County and parts of Thurston County.

“Every single time I drive on any of our highways in the state, especially through Puget Sound, the amount of graffiti that is on the infrastructure is overwhelming,” Barkis said.

He weighed introducing a bill last year that would give community service hours to those caught painting graffiti but went nowhere, so Barkis said he went back to the drawing board and came up with House Bill 1989.

“This one is to get the [Washington State Department of Transportation] to start looking at an abatement program – products that could be put on the infrastructure – on the walls – that would prohibit the adherence of paint,” Barkis said. “That’s one. Two, using cameras that are within the network of our highways to identify those. And three, let’s actually arrest or prosecute those doing the crime.”

You can listen to the entire conversation with Rep. Barkis here, where he and Dave discuss the products that repel paint and Dave’s idea to use plastic ivy.

Local barge operator saves the day on Guemes Island

There’s a local barge operator who is being hailed a hero by the residents of Guemes Island in the San Juans. His name? Cory Joyce.

Our transportation reporter, Micki Gamez, spoke with Joyce about his decision to help out residents from the island as the only ferry on and off the island has been shut down for repairs for a week.

“It’s way more expensive to take me, but when you look at the driver’s time, it’s probably an even push,” Joyce said.

He charges $50 for a round trip to take someone, along with their car since his barge is big enough, to where they need to go. That price sounds steep, but the help has been a near-life-saving service for residents. Joyce said he got a call during Monday night’s Huskies semi-final game at the Sugar Bowl, even though he vowed to stop working to enjoy the game.

“My phone went off, and I wasn’t going to look at it, but I did,” Joyce said. “There was a gal over there with an extremely sick daughter, so I went and made a special trip just for them.”

During the show Thursday, Micki was telling Dave, Sully, and me about Joyce’s service when a text came in from listener Kaylee, who has close knowledge of Joyce’s impact.

“Good morning Colleen! I work at the Anacortes post office. I’ve heard all the different shows talking about the Guemes Island ferry being down. Most people would think it’s not that big of a deal,” Kaylee wrote. “This community member who is shuttling people is literally saving the mail system … how else do you think your mail and packages are getting to customers.”

Listen to the story here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Colleen: Lawmakers plan how to spend excess Climate Commitment Act funds