The Journal doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the gyrations of the legislature or the governor in Olympia, but when they do things that directly affect our little corner of the world, we want you to know about it.
Especially when they do things right.
Following just a few short months after the Deep Sea fiasco in Penn Cove, legislation passed this session (by both parties working together, mirabile dictu!) will help local governments and ports deal with abandoned and derelict vessels, to the benefit of the bays and water of the San Juan archipelago.
The new law should give heart to the many people here, especially Joanruth Baumann and others, who have worked hard over the past several years to get those old hulks out of our waters before they go underwater.
The bill, signed May 20 by Governor Inslee, provides almost $250,000 per year in derelict vessel removal funding by permanently establishing a $1 surcharge on all vessel registrations, set to expire at the end of the year.
If distributed to local governments, like San Juan County, on a matching basis, as funds like these often are, help for the county’s derelict vessel program could finance identification and removal of tens of illegal boats each year.
By downgrading registration-related offenses from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction, enforcement and collection of fines is made more realistic.
(Interestingly enough, the same tack has been taken for building permit violations under the new county code enforcement law. Just goes to show that good ideas can spread.)
Inspections, including boardings, of abandoned and derelict vessels is strengthened and made easier by several provisions in the bill. Every vessel longer that 65 feet and more than 40 years old is required to be inspected before the vessel registration can be transferred.
“This bill helps get us on the right track to improving the conditions of our state’s waterways,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “Derelict vessels pose a very serious threat to the environment and to our state’s economic wellbeing.”
The Journal endorses Inslee’s signing statement about the bill and applauds both Inslee and the legislature both for getting things done and for doing the right thing.