January 27, 2022 — With several people signing up to testify, Representative Valdez (Chair of the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee) allowed speakers 90 seconds each for their testimony on House Bill 1910 concerning conservation district elections.

WACD was prepared for that restriction and kept our testimony within the 90-second timeframe. We chose to take a pretty strident tone in our statement because of the lack of involvement our broader community had in the crafting of House Bill 1910. WACD Executive Director Tom Salzer delivered this message:

We strongly oppose House Bill 1910. This bill would devastate the voluntary conservation model in Washington by replacing conservation projects with more administration. We should be investing in more conservation instead of diverting limited funds to pay for elections and the processing of waivers.

The bill does not identify any source for the millions of dollars it would cost districts for Title 29A general elections. Most of Washington’s conservation districts operate solely on grants and contracts that could not be used to pay such costs. Districts have no taxing authority so there is no guarantee they could pay for elections. When districts can’t pay for mandated actions they must reduce service or dissolve. This bill is a conservation district killer.

Instead of HB 1910, we urge the Committee to advance HB 1652 which improves the conservation district election system. HB 1652 reflects the consensus reached after months of work with stakeholders to find solutions that work for all 45 districts. It allows a district that has the resources to go on the general ballot and does not require the majority of districts to seek waivers.

Please support HB 1652 instead of HB 1910.

You can view WACD’s testimony on TVW and see all HB 1910 public hearing testimony on TVW.

WACD will continue to closely monitor HB 1910 while we advocate for House Bill 1652.