Dye bill, budget proviso among governor’s 147 vetoes, but local court assistance funding remains intact

A bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye that would study implementing a wild horse inmate training program, and her appropriation in the state supplemental operating budget to keep invasive species from being introduced in Washington, were among the 147 bills and appropriations recently vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The governor took the unusual step of issuing the massive vetoes in an effort to save $235 million in the 2020 supplemental operating budget to address COVID-19 repercussions in the state. The vetoes will reduce spending another $210 million in the state's next two-year budget.

“Any other time, this bill, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, would have likely been signed into law, as well as the budget proviso to prevent an invasive mussel invasion,” said Dye, R-Pomeroy. “I am disappointed, because both of these measures took an enormous effort to get through the Legislature. However, it is understandable, given the fact that the governor's orders to prevent the spread of the virus have effectively shut down our state's economy, and there's no doubt the state operating budget will be impacted.”

House Bill 2579 would have provided $166,100 for a feasibility study of the creation of a wild horse inmate program at Coyote Ridge Correctional Center in Connell. The program would have been fashioned after a successful program at the state prison in Florence, Arizona, which Dye toured last fall. The Arizona program involves as many as 30 inmates who train wild horses captured from public range lands to control the mustang population.

“The inmates in Arizona learn employable skills and have a very low recidivism rate once they've served their time. I had hoped the program at Coyote Ridge would include a partnership with Walla Walla Community College to reinstate its farrier program,” added Dye. “The initial funding would have been an investment on a program that would have eventually paid for itself, creating a valuable service for the local area. The timing was unfortunate, but I plan to be back to push for this program again once we've passed this crisis.”

Also succumbing to the governor's veto pen was a $400,000 provision Dye added in the supplemental operating budget for the Department of Fish and Wildlife that would have boosted support at inspection stations against invasive species.

“The threat of zebra and quagga mussels invading our rivers and waterways is a far greater risk to our Northwest Pacific salmon than the Snake River dams the governor wants removed,” said Dye. “These mussels have taken over the Great Lakes and permanently destroyed fish habitat. They nearly got into Washington state on the propellers of a Chicago police boat being towed to Seattle, but we got very lucky when the boat was stopped in Montana. We are only one mussel away from an ecological disaster that could spread in our state faster than the coronavirus. I will continue working to protect our state's waterways and our salmon by seeking this appropriation in the future.”

Another budget proviso Dye was able to secure in the supplemental operating budget that escaped the governor's veto pen and will be funded provides $600,000 for Superior Court support for Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties.

“This money is to help defray costs of paying visiting judges and other expenses incurred after an Asotin County Superior Court judge was arrested last year for alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace. The judge is collecting his salary on administrative leave and challenging the charges. Meantime, the bills are stacking up for visiting judges and travel time,” Dye explained.

“I've been very concerned that while Asotin County has tried its best to maintain the court, the expenses would eventually catch up to them and impact the justice system,” said Dye. “Justice delayed is justice denied. Everyone — victims and the accused — deserve their day in court. This money ensures the local courts will have the financial resources needed to continue providing justice and essential services until the case against the judge is resolved.”

The legislative session ended March 12.


Washington State House Republican Communications