To All CCA Members
CCA SYNOPSIS OF SSB 5127
The substitute bill passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee neuters the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s authority and centralizes power over the commission in the Natural Resources Committee of the Senate after throwing out all of the current commission members as of January 1, 2010. Specifically the bill would do the following:
Change the number of commissioners from 9 to 7 and change their terms from 6 years to 3 years. Turn over would be so fast they would have little time to learn the complexities of the subject matter.
The Governor would appoint the Director subject to Senate confirmation. The Governor would also appoint the Chair of the Commission, who would also be subject to Senate confirmation.
All current commissioners would have their terms cease as of the end of this year and the Governor would be required to appoint all new commissioners. Those new commissioners would be subject to Senate confirmation. In one of the most insidious power grabs, any commissioner could not serve more than one year if not confirmed by the Senate. This gives the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee absolute veto power over the Governor’s choices through a pocket veto. Failure to act on the part of the Senate now becomes a new form of passive-aggressive government.
The current power to adopt departmental rules is stripped from the commission and given to the director. The commission has no oversight powers, and is limited to having 4 meetings a year, holding “forums” (a term that is not defined in the act) and making “broad policy recommendations” to the Natural Resources Committee of the Senate (not to the Governor or to WDFW.)
In the final blow to electoral democracy, as the Senate Committee moves to repeal a voter adopted commission, it has placed an emergency clause on the bill that would prohibit voters from gathering signatures to place it on the fall ballot for a vote of the people. They have prohibited the people from having a referendum on this bill through a cheap parliamentary move. This is a bill pushed forward by a small group of Senators who wish to wrest policy decisions away from a voter mandated Commission that has been appointed by the Governor. Instead, they wish to centralize that power in one committee of the Senate in order to serve the organized commercial fishing interests. 2/26/09 08:00
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