Senate passes Tharinger bills on rural infrastructure and biomass 

OLYMPIA—The passage of two bills by Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend) means more jobs and infrastructure in timber and farm country. 

Since 1998, rural counties built critical infrastructure using part of the sales tax revenue that would ordinarily go to the state. Instead, those funds are matched with federal or local funding to build water systems, housing, or other infrastructure that can aid economic development. 

“This program is critical for rural areas,” said Tharinger, who introduced House Bill 1267 to extend the program another 20 years. “By making this program extend further into the future with certainty, counties in timber and farm country can rely on it to issue the bonds to finance projects. That’s a big deal, because you need bonds to build anything significant.” 

The legislation passed the House 95-0 and the Senate 47-2. You can watch Tharinger’s speech on the floor of the House by clicking here. 

The other bill headed to the governor’s desk to get signed into law deals with biomass and wood waste, also known as hog fuel. 

“Hog fuel used to be burned in the woods or trucked into landfills,” Tharinger said. “The legislation I wrote makes it pencil out economically to use biomass or wood waste as clean power. This doesn’t just generate local power—it helps make our farms and timber operations profitable and sustainable.” 

Tharinger’s legislation, House Bill 1018, extends the tax break on those sources of energy. 

The bill passed the House 96-0 and the Senate 37-12.