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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: Ken Jacobsen

Check…mate. Last-minute procedural move foils latest attempt to revamp Fish and Wildlife Commission…

For weeks now, Sen. Ken Jacobsen has been trying to revamp the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The backstory, from an earlier blog post I wrote:

Commercial fisherman say the board is tilted too far in favor of sport/recreational anglers. The latter say that the board is simply making the hard decisions necessary to preserve the region’s fish runs, and that rod-and-reel anglers are inherently more selective than folks who scoop up fish with nets.

Jacobsen wants to reduce the number of commissioners, shorten their terms, assign them by geographic region and — this is the most important one — remove their ability to hire and fire the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. As he put it in a moment of candor before a House committee last month, Jacobsen’s bill would “neuter ‘em.”

Jacobsen’s proposal sailed through the state Senate, where Majority Leader Lisa Brown said that she felt there were legitimate questions over how the commission was doing. Rep. Brian Blake tried to tone it down a bit while still preserving the intent of Jacobsen’s bill. But Blake’s amended version collapsed at the last minute when Rep. John McCoy proposed taking away the commission’s authority over many fish and all hunting. (The department and, ultimately, the governor would have taken over that role directly.)

Then Jacobsen managed to quietly graft his plan onto another bill, House Bill 1778, that was moving swiftly toward passage.

That’s the bill that came up in the Senate today. On the Senate floor, Jacobsen was cueing up his arguments for final passage of the bill when Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield stood up and objected.

In the legislature, bills must contain basically what is described in the bill title. (This rule is what prevents lawmakers from trying to camouflage controversial legislation with motherhood-and-apple-pie titles, although there are still an awful lot of very vague bill titles out there.)

Zarelli protested, saying that an overhaul of the commission didn’t remain in a bill that was supposed to be about things like allowing anglers who pay extra to fish with two poles. Jacobsen’s amendment, he said, “goes far beyond dealing with enforcement and licensing issues.”

The bill was tabled. The attorneys huddled. And Senate President eventually agreed with Zarelli. The provisions to change the commission, Owen said, “go well beyond the original” subject of the bill.

Zarelli’s challenge was “not a surprise,” Jacobsen said in an email afterward. But it looks like the death of the proposal, at least for this year.

“I am not aware of any vehicle that I can use” to revive the proposal, he said.

Trying to broker a way out of a longstanding fish war…

From this morning’s paper:

OLYMPIA _ Trying to broker a truce in a long-running dispute, state lawmakers are considering stripping the state Fish and Wildlife Commission of its role overseeing commercial fishing.

The move – likely to be voted on in a House committee today – caps a tug-of-war with high emotions on both sides.

The nine-member citizen commission, appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, oversees fishing and hunting policy.

Critics – including some key lawmakers and Indian tribes – say the current members are biased in favor of sport fishing.

But the commission’s defenders say the group is simply doing the best it can to preserve struggling fish populations. And fishing with a rod instead of a net, they say, is far more selective at a time when the state’s trying to preserve wild fish runs.

The commissioners “are acting on behalf of conservation,” said Ed Wickersham, a sport fisherman from Ridgefield. “They’re frightening interests that have lived by exploiting these resources.”

One of the most high-profile critics of the commission is Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle. He has allowed the Senate to confirm just one of the commissioners, Spokane’s George Orr.

Jacobsen is unhappy that agency director Jeff Koenings – perceived as a commercial-fishing ally – resigned under heavy pressure in December. He’s also offended that the commission snubbed commission vice chairman Fred Shiosaki two years ago, deciding against making the Spokane angler chairman. Shiosaki later resigned from the commission.

“He’s a wonderful gentleman, and they blighted his career at the end,” Jacobsen said.

This year, Jacobsen proposed a bill to shrink the commission, shorten the terms, and strip it of authority to choose the head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The governor would do that instead.

“They’ve managed to enrage the tribes, the commercial fishermen, the hunting community. And that’s pretty hard to do,” he said. “They’ve proved it doesn’t work.” The Senate approved the bill and sent it to the House earlier this month.

Jacobsen’s clear about the goal.

“If this bill passes,” he told lawmakers this week, “we neutered ’em.”

Of bacon, longhorns and seaweed-eating sheep…

Here’s the quiz:

a) Where does the cattle-calling nickname “Bossy” come from?
b) Why is bacon not so tasty anymore?
c) And what is the world’s only seaweed-eating sheep?

Find out all this — and much, much more — in three minutes of testimony by Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle.

Driven by the same impulse that leads gardeners to cultivate old “heirloom” tomato varieties (among them: Mike Gregoire), Jacobsen is proposing a state recognition program for “heritage livestock and poultry breeds.”

From the bill pile…

…comes this one, one of several dozen from Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle:

Senate Bill 5520: “An act relating to requiring agencies to provide truthful information to legislators.”

Funeral homes, cemeteries unenthusiastic about Jacobsen’s buried-with-your-pets proposal…

From tomorrow’s paper:

On Monday, while many people had a day off, state Sen. Ken Jacobsen was facing a state Senate committee, trying to convince his fellow lawmakers to let people be buried with their pets.

He’s absolutely serious. The idea to him a couple of years ago, when his beloved, 23-pound cat Sam died from cancer.

“I asked the kids to bury him in the back yard and I told them that when I’m ready to go, I’d like to take Sam with me,” said Jacobsen, 63. “Because he really was one of my best friends.”

The buried-with-your-pet proposal is one of 46 so far this year from Jacobsen, a Seattle Democrat who tends to be the legislature’s most prolific filer of bills. Barely a week into this year’s legislative session, Jacobsen has proposed an airline passenger’s bill of rights, allowing pet dogs in bars, designating a state oak tree, and giving tax breaks to taverns that install on-site breathalyzers.

Last year, he lobbied unsuccessfully to restore a centuries-old tradition of outfitting the state poet — yes, there is one — with a large barrel of wine. This year, he wants to hire a state bird-watching expert, and to declare the marmot Washington’s official “endemic mammal.”

Jacobsen says his proposals may be quirky, but that they’re not frivolous. If a good idea strikes him, he says, it’s his job as an elected official to throw it into the mix.

“It’s that theory of chaos,” he said. “You put things on the table and you never know what the interactions are going to be.” And he welcomes ideas, holding court regularly with constituents at a local Burgermaster.

Sometimes, Jacobsen said, what sound like wacky ideas are actually trendsetters. In the mid-80s, for example, he was mocked for championing state labeling of organic food.

“When I started the first time, I was treated like I was talking about kinky sex,” he said.

The bill that’s raised the most eyebrows this year…

No smoking in cars with kids and other proposals in the early legislative mix…

Yeah, it’s all about the budget this year, but there’s some interesting — if short-lived — stuff going on in the margins:

Wary Christmas: Just weeks after the contentious battle-of-the-holiday-placards between Christians and an atheist group in the state capitol’s third floor, Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, has introduced House Bill 1301, which would declare any conifer erected in the capitol rotunda during December to be “the official Christmas tree of the state of Washington.” 
Remember your mailbox in October? Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, wants to require anyone mailing out a political ad to file a copy with the archives. (SB 5096)
Airline passengers’ bill of rights:
Jacobsen also wants to require airlines to provide food, water and clean bathrooms to people stuck on the ground in planes. He also wants to create a new state “airline consumer advocate” to investigate complains and seek refunds of up to $1,000 per person. (SE 5068)
Moles beware:
In the latest round of a long dispute between ranchers struggling with coyotes and suburban homeowners dismayed at lawn damage, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, wants to create an exception to the state’s anti-trapping law. Under Senate Bill 5123, traps used to kill moles would be declared OK.
-Driving in a cloud: Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, wants to make it illegal to smoke in a car containing anyone under the age of 18. (HB 1151)
-Best Friends Forever: Jacobsen’s SB 5063 would allow people to have their deceased pets buried alongside them in the family’s cemetery plot. (No horses, though – the bill only covers dogs and cats.)
The Birdman of Olympia:
Washington already has a state climatologist and a state poet. Jacobsen – an avid fan of bird-watching – thinks it’s time we had a state ornithologist. Among this person’s tasks: helping teach the public about bird-feeding and designing bird-friendly yards. (SB 5066)
-Kids in cars
: Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, wants to make it illegal to leave a child under 12 in an unattended car. (This is already illegal for anyone under 16 if the engine is running.) A second violation would be a misdemeanor. (Senate Bill 5126.)
-Hold the bags: Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, wants to ban free shopping bags unless they’re compostable, recyclable or thick and reuseable. (HB 1189)
-But paper bags are OK: Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview, and other timber-area lawmakers want to ban cities and counties from trying to charge shoppers for a bag – so long as it’s made of paper. (HB 1154)
-Hold the art: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and half a dozen mostly-Republican lawmakers have proposed a two-year break from the public building requirement that half of 1 percent of the project’s cost be spent on art. (SB 5163).
-A state income tax: Entitled “An Act Relating to Fiscal Reform,” Senate Bill 5104 would set up a state income tax ranging from 2.2 percent to 6 percent, with the highest rate applying to anyone with taxable income of more than about $60,000 a year. The proposal comes from Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma. The change would require that voters also agree to amend the state constitution, which Franklin included in a separate measure, SJR 8205.
-Hiking brightly: Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, wants to require all hikers in recreation areas to wear bright orange clothing during hunting season. Hikers in regular clothes would be subject to a fine. (HB 1116)

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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