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GOP State Lawmakers Aim to Handcuff Ecology Department

Washington State Republican lawmakers want to be ready for a possible end-around play by Governor Jay Inslee in case his greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bill fails to make it through the legislature. At least 10 Washington House Republicans and half a dozen members of the Senate have introduced bills which would virtually neutralize the Washington Department of Ecology.

The two measures would prohibit the Department of Ecology from enforcing any policy until the policy has been vetted and ratified by the Legislature.

Opponents of a cap and trade environmental law are counting on a divided legislature and a new rule in the Senate requiring a two-thirds vote on any new tax proposals to head off the governor's plan. But they also fear that if the measure fails, Governor Inslee will simply impose new carbon control rules through the Department of Ecology.

In the House, controlled by Democrats, the anti-Ecology bill has not gotten a committee hearing yet, and it may not. But in the Senate, it's scheduled for a hearing this week before the Committee on energy and the environment.

It may get a more cordial reception there, because one of the bill's authors, Yakima senator Jim Honeyford, is also a key member of the committee.

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