The Senate has voted unanimously in favor of HB 645, the funding bill that trails HB 406, the measure to have the state take over primacy for wastewater permitting under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System from the EPA. The funding bill includes $300,000 in ongoing funds to the state DEQ next year, plus three new full-time employees. “The program will have significantly higher costs in the future,” said Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston. By the end of the eight-year phase-in, it will cost an estimated $2.5 million a year and require 25 additional full-time employees at DEQ, he told the Senate.
HB 406 earlier passed both houses unanimously; Gov. Butch Otter signed it into law on March 7.