Shewmake bill to protect flood insurance eligibility passes House

OLYMPIA – Today, the state House passed a bill from Rep. Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham) to ensure that flood insurance eligibility for Washington state residents isn’t threatened. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, recently raised concerns that some streamlined fish habitat enhancement permitting isn’t consistent with requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program, so this legislation was developed to allow local governments to modify the permitting process as necessary to comply with the federal program.

The bill, HB 1478, passed in a 57-40 vote.

“Last year, we witnessed devastation in Sumas as the Nooksack river flooded homes and businesses,” Shewmake said. “This bill is a small, but important fix. By ensuring local control over more of the permitting, we can continue to protect fish habitats and ensure people maintain eligibility for flood insurance.”

HB 1478 also recognizes the role that federally recognized tribes play in salmon recovery projects by adding them to the list of entities that can sponsor a streamlined permit approval. Currently, the list is comprised of entities like conservation districts and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Indigenous people have been stewards of our environment for generations and have critical input about fish habitat enhancement projects,” Shewmake added.

The legislation is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.