Locke, Democrats holding
farmers hostage, say GOP
State Reps. Joyce Mulliken, R-Ephrata, and Tom Mielke, R-Battle Ground, today warned that Gov. Gary Locke and Democrat leaders in the state House and Senate had taken Washington's agricultural community hostage. Mulliken and Mielke asked for an immediate vote in the House on legislation to exempt agriculture from the onerous new shoreline regulations and a GMA extension that would include Clark County.
"I met with the governor's staff, Democrat leaders, and representatives of the business, agriculture and environmental communities today to forge a compromise that would exempt our farmers and ranchers from the Department of Ecology's new shorelines rules," said Mulliken, who serves as co-chair of the House Local Government and Housing Committee.
"We were told in plain English that the governor supported the agriculture exemption and the GMA extension, both of which are absolutely critical to keeping our agriculture industry from further harm," said Mielke, vice chair of the committee. "But just as I began to think that we had won this battle, the governor and legislative Democrats dropped their bomb.
"We were told that even though there is an agreement on these crucial issues, there won't be any vote in the House," Mielke continued. "There won't be any vote on these bills because the governor wants money to fund shorelines in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties."
"The governor wants money for the Puget Sound and he's willing to jeopardize every farmer and rancher in Washington in order to get it," said Mulliken. "The rest of the state's agriculture communities have been taken hostage by the governor even when he supports the very legislation being blocked."
Mulliken and Mielke today introduced House Bill 2278 to immediately exempt Washington's agricultural industry from the shoreline rules and offer the 1- year GMA extension for all counties. Both lawmakers said they would continue working to forge an eleventh hour deal.