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Subject:                                                                   RBAW Monthly Newsletter - February 2023



RBAW Monthly Newsletter

February 2023




2023 Legislative Day was a Success!    

On January 26th, members of RBAW and the Northwest Marine Trade Association held the annual “Legislative Day” in Olympia to meet with legislators and discuss priority asks for the 2023 legislative session. Key items discussed are covered below, and included educating legislators on the importance of pump outs and Lake Bay Marina capital funding for this session, as well as various other policy proposals before the legislature. Over 25 members between RBAW and NMTA participated, and were able to meet with 17 legislators to discuss pertinent issues for recreational boating. 2023 Legislative Day was a great success, culminated with a fabulous reception at the Olympia Yacht Club.


2023 Seattle Boat Show

Shout out to all the people who stopped by to say AHOY!, and of course the 85+ new members who signed up and will be getting their first RBAW newsletter with the February addition!!!



Lakebay Marina

Work continues on multiple funding proposals for the Lakebay Marina. At the beginning of January, President Bob Wise and RBAW lobbyist Trevor Justin provided feedback to the Department of Natural Resources on their grant proposal seeking funding for Lakebay Marina through the Boating Facilitates Program grant. A letter of support was secured from State Rep. Spencer Hutchins from the 26th legislative district (where Lakebay is located). DNR submitted the grant application with this support letter included, and next month President Wise and DNR will present on the grant application. Additionally, RBAW is taking the lead on a $1 million local community project request from the legislature for additional portions of the Lakebay remodel including the replacement of an underground storage tank and fuel tank, reestablishing a fuel pump at the marina, renovating the boat ramp, and creating additional slips for boaters docking at the facility. RBAW is working closely with State Reps. Michelle Caldier, Spencer Hutchins, and State Sen. Emily Randall to secure this funding. In January, the capital budget form necessary for this funding was submitted. 



Legislation Relating to Modifying Boater Safety and Education Requirements (SB 5597) 


Legislation was just introduced to modify the boater safety and education requirements. In short, the bill seeks to add those operating “human-powered vessels” (think paddle boards, kayaks, etc.) to obtain boating safety education and carry a Paddlecraft Education card. It also makes several undesirable changes to the current Boater Education card program, undoing past efforts. Past President Steve Greaves testified at the hearing in opposition and is schedule to testify again later in February.



$2M Funding Request for more Mobile Pump Out Services

RBAW continues to work with a coalition of environmental groups, recreational boating organizations, tug operators, and Washington State Parks on a 2023-25 Capital Budget request of $2 million for pump out capacity in the state. Half of this request ($1m) is for expanding mobile pump-out capacity in the state, while the other half of the ask ($1m) is to establish a commercial pump out operation for commercial vessels likely to be located at the Port of Anacortes. State Rep. Julia Reed from the 36th legislative district, and State Sen. Liz Lovelett from the 40th legislative district have been champions for this ask, which is great! Work is underway on the necessary capital budget form for this request, and several positive conversations occurred on this ask during “Legislative Day” in Olympia.  


Legislation Relating to Protecting Southern Resident Orcas from Vessels (SB 5371/ HB 1145) 

Companion bills have been introduced this session relating to ‘protecting southern resident orcas from vessels’ as the title of the legislation indicates. In short, this bill would increase the distance a vessel must maintain from a southern resident orca (SRKW) from 300 and 400 yards, to 1,000 yards total. The bill also contains other provisions relating to commercial whale watching, and paddle tour business licenses. RBAW supports our orcas and marine life, signed in “other” on this legislation and raised various process concerns at the public hearing. RBAW President Bob Wise testified at the hearing, and raised questions regarding how vessels would know what 1,000 yards is (almost 6/10th of a mile), how vessel operators would know what type of orca it would be from that far away, and how this would be enforced. RBAW’s lobbyist is in contact with the prime sponsor of the legislation and will work through these concerns to see if the legislation can be amended to find something that is feasible and workable.



Watercraft Excise Tax Discussions Ongoing   

RBAW efforts continue in an attempt to fix fundamental inequities in the Depreciation Schedule being used by the Department of Revenue to assess boaters the ½ of 1 percent Watercraft Excise Tax we pay each year. This is less of a “Depreciation Schedule” and more of an analysis of fair market value based on the most recent purchase price of a vessel – queuing off a state statute (RCW 82.49.040) that dates all the way back to 1983.

RBAW shared with the Department of Revenue a series of “key concerns” with the Depreciation Schedule, chiefly that it over-inflates the value of vessels purchased 14-15 or more years ago. RBAW also urged in a letter to DOR that there be high-level discussions between the Agency and the recreational boating community to work together to devise something fairer. In response to the concerns, a series of discussions have begun between RBAW representatives and DOR to continue to find a path forward on the issue, including if there can be fix in the regulatory realm, or if a legislative fix for the 2024 Legislature is needed (which will need time to develop and refine it). We help meetings in early January to continue discussions and share ideas on the issue, and will continue discussions in March.   


JLARC Study on “Activities Supporting Recreational Boating in Washington”  

What does the state do with the money they collect from boaters?  Also included on the legislative agenda is a priority to refresh a December, 2010 Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) study on activities supporting recreational boating in Washington state. When the last report was completed in 2010, findings showed that the state collected $70.9 million in boating-related revenue during the 2007-2009 biennium, while spending only $54 million on recreational boating services and activities. Given this study is roughly 13 years dated, an update is needed to reassess where the revenue is now. RBAW’s lobbyist met with JLARC in January to discuss this request, and is working with Senator John Braun from the 20th legislative district to include language in the state operating budget that would authorize JLARC to update this report. 


DNR Legislation relating to Derelict Structures (SB 5433/ HB 1378)

As indicated on the 2023 legislative agenda, RBAW is supportive of the Department of Natural Resources legislation regarding derelict structures and incentive funds for marina operators. DNR sent RBAW this legislation in December seeking feedback and incorporated some of our comments. However, requests continue for increased incentive funds in the bill and that more explicit mitigation assistance be included in the package. RBAW President Bob Wise testified in support of this legislation on both the House and Senate bills, and indicated hope to see adequate funding included for the grant programs in the bill.    


‘Mind the Zone’ Funding for Lake Union Water Safety Initiative   

Efforts to continue funding for a water safety initiative on Lake Union relating to ‘Mind the Zone’ turn to the state legislature. At the end of 2022,$122,000 was secured over the next two years through the City of Seattle’s budget – in thanks to Council member Dan Strauss – to continue the Lake Union water safety, education and awareness initiative (AKA “#MindTheZone”) that RBAW began last summer with state funding. An additional $100,000 from the state legislature is being sought to also contribute to this campaign. Legislators in the 36th and 43rd legislative districts (which incorporate Lake Union) are likely to champion this state operating budget ask. This funding was also discussed with state budget writers during “Legislative Day” in Olympia.



Legislation Relating to Reducing Plastic Pollution (HB 1085)

House bill 1085 was introduced this legislative session with the goal of reducing plastic pollution. Unfortunately, provisions included in the bill as introduced would have prohibited expanded or extruded plastic foam in overwater structures including docks, floats, walkways and other structures. This language was problematic as this would ban the current industry standard polyethylene tubs being installed to replace older open or shrink-wrapped foam logs.  RBAW’s lobbyist worked closely with other stakeholders including partners at the Northwest Marine Trade Association to negotiate compromised language that pertains to minimum thickness standards for these types of encased structures. The bill was amended to incorporate agreed to language and now RBAW is neutral on the legislation.    



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