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State Senate passes orca bill

Over the past two years, second graders at Crescent Harbor Elementary learned about orcas and the state legislative process.

The elementary students have been lobbying state legislators to convince them to have the orca designated Washington’s official marine mammal.

They learned how effective their efforts were this week when the state Senate approved House Bill 1759 this week naming the orca the state’s marine mammal.

“This bill is here because of a group of second graders in Oak Harbor,” Sen Mary Margaret Haugen said in a written statement. “Those of us who have the privilege of living in the Puget Sound region are lucky enough to see these beautiful animals in their natural setting.”

Crescent Harbor Elementary School teacher Bonnie Alanis said the bill demonstrates the persistence her students had.

“Their hard work has paid off,” Alanis said.

Second graders first tried to get the bill past last year. However, time ran out before the House could consider the bill. The bill was reintroduced and approved by the state House earlier in the year.

When Alanis learned of the new bill, she taught her students about how a bill becomes a law and how to contact their legislators. Each student wrote letters to their legislators. Alanis also encouraged them to have their parents write letters as well.

Only seven representatives, all Republican, voted against the bill in the House. Only one state senator, a Democrat, opposed it in the Senate. Details are available online at www.washingtonvotes.com.

With the approval of the bill in both houses, it heads to Gov. Christine Gregoire for her signature. Alanis said her students have been invited down to Olympia to witness the signing. However, some details have to be worked out before the trip can happen. She is expected to sign the bill on Thursday.

Once the bill is signed, her students will be busy writing thank you notes to all of the representatives and senators involved in approving the measure.

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