Biomass bill aims to help timber industry
By STEVE BROWN
OLYMPIA -- A bill redefining biomass energy was delivered to the governor on March 1 after passing both houses of the Legislature.
Senate Bill 5575, sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, adds to the existing definition organic byproducts of pulping and the wood manufacturing process, untreated wood demolition or construction debris, yard waste and food processing residuals and liquor derived from algae.
Hatfield designed the bill to help the forestry industry, which has been struggling in recent years. The bill was supported by representatives of timber and fiber companies, food processors and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who said local communities can benefit from the added jobs and broadened tax base.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 45-1 and the House by 89-9.
Hatfield said he expects the Legislature will wrap up the session on schedule March 8, "but we're not afraid of overtime."
"There's still some wrangling," he said. "The Senate budget we're working on together is a better version for Washington, for ag research and for fairs."
He said he and other conservative Democrats want to see reforms make it to the governor's desk before they vote on the budget. "If we can bat .500 on about eight bills, we're not asking for the moon."