Rep. Hansen’s marine jobs bill moves ahead in Senate

A two-year effort to keep waterways clear of derelict and abandoned vessels – and protect the jobs that depend on clean water and safe navigation – steamed ahead in the Senate today with committee approval of legislation sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen.

 The measure, House Bill 2457, is designed to address the kind of incidents that have generated headlines around Puget Sound in recent years: an abandoned tugboat sinking in Eagle Harbor; a 167-foot ship going under  in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway, dragging another ship off even keel; and the state seizing a 180-foot hulk off Port Ludlow when its owner misfired on plans to tow it to Mexico.

“We took a big step forward on this last year,” Hansen said. “We’re working today to make further progress on reducing pollution, removing hazards and safeguarding jobs in the shellfish, marine and recreational industries.” Hansen represents Kitsap County in the state House, and he said those jobs are critically important to the Kitsap economy.

Hansen worked over the summer with Republican Rep. Norma Smith of Clinton on the proposal to accelerate the removal of derelict vessels, increase accountability for owners of high-risk boats and prompt boat owners to dispose of vessels safely. In the 2013 legislative session, Hansen successfully pushed a bill to protect jobs in the marine industries by strengthening the state’s derelict vessel program. That measure, House Bill 1245, was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Hansen’s newest proposal would do more to address the problem, focusing on the bigger, older boats that are most likely to decay and become derelict

Hansen’s bill is the product of a bipartisan working group convened by HB 1245 to evaluate additional steps the state could take to protect jobs by removing derelict vessels.  It passed the House with broad support earlier this year, and it now moves closer to full Senate action.