"It's Like Talking About Abortion."

By Josh Feit February 12, 2009

House bill 2010 is quietly titled "Concerning state funding for local projects." It's certainly a more bashful title than last year's dramatic  Senate bill 6580: "Addressing the impacts of climate change through the growth management act."

Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-44, Marysville, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek), the sponsor of HB 2010, is just fine with the low profile status of his bill.

Here's what the bill does: It requires the state's economic development department—which oversees about $4 billion for local capital projects —sewer lines, schools—to make sure the projects are in synch with the state's green standards that reduce carbon emissions and lower vehicle miles travelled. For example, is a sewer line being extended to encourage sprawl? If so, no go. 

Dunshee is the chair of the Capital Budget Committee where the bill had a hearing yesterday. Dunshee tells PubliCola he has the votes to pass the bill out of committee and  onto the Rules Committee. 

"We tend to do sprawl with that money," Dunshee says of the $4 billion in state-funded local projects. "A district finds cheap land to build a school, but that's far away from the students. Well, we just want to shape the map a little differently now." 


With a copy of an alarming UW climate change study on his desk—our snow packs will  recede by 30 percent by 2020—and a copy of Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America —the bearded, good-natured, and lively Dunshee talks both matter-of-factly and passionately about the climate crisis. 

"If it's a choice between building a mall on the outskirts of town or redeveloping your downtown, we want you to redevelop your downtown," Dunshee says, explaining that state money for sewer lines—the mundane and overwhelming  purview of this bill—shouldn't be doled out to accommodate sprawling projects that contradict established state rules.

Dunshee says he's gotten only "a little push back" on the bill—as opposed to last year's similar, high-profile Growth Management Act bill sponsored by Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-47, Covington, Kiss Song) which got killed by House leadership. (Developers from the Building Industry Association of Washington didn't like green litmus tests in the GMA.) 

This bill doesn't mess with the politically charged GMA and all its thorny local politics, though. Dunshee's behind-the-scenes approach simply forces the state to put its money where its mouth (and existing state statutes) is/are.  

"Talking about the GMA is like talking about abortion," Dunshee laughs.
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