Rep. Shelly Short’s bill to make DOE more accountable and transparent passes House
'We need to make sure accountability and transparency don't get lost in the bureaucracy,' says Short
Legislation to bring more transparency to the decisions – and the decision-making process – of the state Department of Ecology passed the Washington State House of Representatives last week. In a unanimous vote, legislators approved House Bill 1113, sponsored by 7th District State Representative Shelly Short, R-Addy. “The state Department of Ecology makes decisions and implements rules that have a huge impact to landowners and business owners around the state, and especially in rural areas like northeast Washington,” said Short. “The department itself is divided into ten separate environmental management programs and each of those programs is divided into further subgroups. With so many layers of information and responsibility, we just need to make sure that accountability and transparency don't get lost in the bureaucracy.” Short's bill requires DOE to identify the peer-reviewed science, scientific literature, and other sources of information used before taking significant agency action related to certain agency programs. “Significant agency action” is defined in the bill as:
- results in substantive requirements for a non-state actor with penalties for noncompliance;
- establishes, alters, or revokes any qualification or standard for the issuance, suspension, or revocation of a license or permit;
- results in significant amendments to an existing policy or program; or
- results in the development of technical guidance, assessments, or documents used to implement a state rule or statute.
Short has proposed similar legislation that would apply the same level of scrutiny to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). While that bill, House Bill 1112, passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, it still has not been scheduled for a vote by the full House. “I'm hopeful we can get my companion bill brought to the House floor for a vote,” said Short. “However, it's looking more and more like the other side doesn't want to extend more accountability and transparency to WDFW. We'll have to wait and see. The reality is, I don't think the idea of shedding light on the actions taken by state agencies should be a hugely partisan issue. I think most folks can agree that our state agencies can sometimes get carried away. We need to have tools in place that help the Legislature and the public hold them accountable.” The 105-day 2013 legislative session is nearing the halfway point.
###Washington State House Republican Communications