If you thought this you were going to be able to relax this summer, think again. Better cancel that cruise too and get your deposit back. There’s going to be a lot going on.

The 2020 supplemental State Operating Budget includes important provisos that are important to county commissioners and county planners. You might even say that because of these provisos, you’ve got your work clearly cut out for you over the next several months.

The concept of “net ecological gain” was officially introduced this session in HB 2550. That bill did not pass but “net ecological gain” was included in the budget. A proviso instructs WDFW to contract with the Washington State Academy of Science to evaluate a policy shift in state law that would create a new standard of “net ecological gain” in lieu of the current “no net loss” standard.  This is a dramatic shift in policy and law, and it is critical that counties are engaged as the analysis moves forward.

A Growth Management Act (GMA) workgroup is also funded and will managed by the Department of Commerce. It will consider the report from the Ruckelshaus Center – A Roadmap to Washington’s Future – and develop legislative proposals for changes to the GMA. It is likely the workgroup will be large, as there are many stakeholders in this type of process. WSAC members have long sought the opportunity to have some broad-based, meaningful discussions with stakeholders to reform the GMA.

Finally, the Department of Ecology received funding for rule-making on environmental evaluations of large-scale projects likely to have significant impacts related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The funding follows the Governor’s Directive issued in December 2019.  This rule-making will hopefully provide clarity and predictability for how and when permitting authorities are required to evaluate these types of impacts. No rules currently exist, and litigation is frequent and costly.

WSAC and affiliate members will be critical to the success of local government interests as these processes move forward. Many of you will likely be asked to participate and contribute in key roles.

So, if you’re interested in land use and improving our state’s framework for local government and the residents you serve, now is the time to roll up your sleeves. There won’t be any time for visits from the in-laws this summer. You’ll just have to call them and tell them you’re busy.