Bailey bill neuters laws

HB 1082, sponsored by Barbara Bailey, is one example of the right-wing assault on our government. Under existing law, individuals are required to comply with environmental laws, and non-compliance may result in immediate sanctions. However, under HB 1082, once the government discovers a violation of environmental laws (including the Growth Management Act, the Shoreline Protection Act, and water pollution control laws) then the affected regulatory agency must give the violator an opportunity to voluntarily comply with the law before a penalty may be imposed for the violation. In other words, every violator gets a free pass to ignore our environmental laws at least once. But it doesn’t stop there. Serial violators, such as unscrupulous land developers, are entitled to claim a free pass for each new violation discovered by the government.

Under Bailey’s bill individuals would have no incentive to comply with environmental laws, and even if caught violating them, there would be no penalty unless they thereafter fail to comply with the law after being told what they must do to get into compliance. Oh, and by the way, Bailey’s bill imposes the obligation on government to develop programs to encourage voluntary compliance by, among other things, providing technical assistance visits. Such programs must be funded and administered within existing resources. If a violator requests a technical assistance visit (and most will, resulting in long delays), the violator may not be penalized for violating the law until the technical assistance visit has been made and the violator has thereafter been given a reasonable period of time to correct the violations.

Does anyone honestly believe the government has adequate resources to enforce our environmental laws under Bailey’s approach? Obviously existing government resources will be inadequate to enforce environmental laws under HB 1082, and that is what Barbara Bailey and her right-wing anti-government crowd is relying on to effectively neuter our environmental laws.

Nels Kelstrom


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