Rep. Blake’s Newsletter: Cage-Free Eggs, Whale-Watching, Civics Education, Work Zone Awareness, TVW Online

Break that Rusty Cage

My bill on commercial egg layers, HB 2049, has passed both chambers with strong bipartisan support and is heading to the governor’s desk. With Easter right around the corner, it seemed appropriate to bring it up in this newsletter.

easter eggs

Starting January 1st 2024, all new and renewed egg handler and dealer licenses must prove that all eggs are produced in facilities that meet the 2017 housing standards for egg laying flocks, as published by the United Egg Producers. And by 2026, they must provide a minimum of 116.3”² per hen, and allow each hen access to nesting, perching and scratching.

The future of eggs is cage free and while some producers in Washington have already jumped on board the no-cage wagon, this bill simply shores up standards to promote uniformity. Giving egg producers a time-frame makes going cage free in Washington within the next five years an attainable goal.

I am pleased with the bipartisan work done to get this bill through, and to have had the opportunity to prime sponsor this bill as a representative of an agriculturally active district.

New Rules for Whale Watching

As you know, our killer whales are in danger of becoming extinct. To protect them and help them thrive, this year the Legislature is taking a number of steps, in part, following the recommendations provided by the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.

southern resident orca

I am glad to report that the Senate companion to a bill I sponsored addressing the issue of noise and disturbance in the water, which is endangering our whales, passed the House today and is now on its way to becoming law.

The measure will increase the distance boats must stay from southern resident orcas from 200 to 300 yards in the path of the whale, or 400 yards when behind a whale. The bill adds a go-slow zone — 7 knots per hour or less — for boats viewing orcas, from 400 yards to half a nautical mile (1,013 yards) from the whales.

The bill also establishes a commercial whale-watching license and requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to adopt rules by 2021 for holders of a commercial whale-watching license to reduce the daily and cumulative impacts on orca health.

Engaging Students and Teachers with Civics Education

A good civics education is the foundation of a healthy democracy.

As part of the Legislature’s commitment to civics education, schools may schedule field trips to our state Capitol year-round. This is often where students first become interested in government or politics.

On April 8, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of 5th graders from Butler Acres Elementary. This picture was taken in the historic State Reception Room, where numerous important events have been held:

Blake with 5th graders

During the legislative session, students have the opportunity to watch floor debate in the House and Senate.

When not in session, teachers may bring legislators into the classrooms to talk with students.

In addition to these hands-on educational experiences for students, the Legislature also provides teachers with free online resources for civics education, including lesson plans, activities, virtual tours and games.

Teachers in social studies, government and civics may also apply to the Legislative Scholar Program. This five-day summer workshop provides teachers with an immersive experience into the legislative process. Teachers develop holistic understanding of state government to bring back into the classroom.

Learn more:

National Work Zone Awareness Week

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) workers face extreme danger on a daily basis, while working on high-traffic roadways.

work zone awareness

Last month a WSDOT work truck was smashed into an unrecognizable wreck after being impacted by a speeding semi-truck on SR 3. Fortunately, none of the workers present were injured in the incident.

The remains of the work truck have been set in a display across the road from the Legislative campus. The truck is surrounded by 60 traffic barrels to represent the 60 WSDOT workers that have been killed on the job since 1950.

WSDOT workers continually improve our transportation infrastructure throughout the state and keep us all moving. Please respect these hardworking people by using proper caution and driving at appropriate speeds when passing a work zone. Together we can prevent these terrible accidents from occurring.

Watch TVW Online

This legislative session will adjourn on April 28, that’s just in a couple of weeks, and this is when things move really quickly between chambers.

Remember you can keep up with everything we’re doing in Olympia through TVW, not only on your TV, but also online. Click on the image or scan the code for more information on how to access this great resource.

Thank you for reading my newsletter.  Please get in touch if you need more information or just to give me your feedback.


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