House rejects Schmick amendment to help parks in 9th District

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, offered an amendment on the House floor this evening that would have helped reopen several area state parks.

“We've been closing state parks since 2003,” Schmick said.  “We have quite a few in the 9th District that have been closed to the detriment of our region, our communities and our families.”

Schmick said his amendment would have helped Chief Timothy State Park, Lyons Ferry State Park, and Central Ferry State Park, all of which have closed in recent years.

“I understand our need to keep existing state parks open, and I am wholeheartedly in support of a voluntary effort to do so,” Schmick said.  “But we have several parks that have already closed in recent years.  If there's going to be any sort of concentrated effort to raise money for parks, I want see some of the state parks in my district resurrected.”

Schmick offered an amendment to House Bill 2339, dubbed the “opt-out” bill as it would require a $5 fee to be collected by the Department of Licensing when drivers go to renew their licenses unless they specifically “opt-out.”

His amendment stipulated that as money enters into the new State Parks Renewal and Stewardship Account, it would first have to go toward reopening all state parks closed since 2002.  Parks that had been closed the longest would have received funding first.

While House Bill 2339 passed, Schmick's amendment failed.

“I want folks to know that I don't support the overall bill,” Schmick said.  “I am not in favor of the 'opt-out' concept at all.  If people want to donate, fine.  But there will be a lot of citizens, especially our seniors, that won't know they're paying this fee.  It's a hidden tax and it's disingenuous to the people.

“But once I realized the majority party had the votes to pass the bill, I tried to at least make it possible for our 9th District parks to reap some benefit,” Schmick continued.  “I think more and more are wanting to use our state parks, especially as the economy struggles.  A day or weekend trip to a state park is much more accessible than that trip to Hawaii or Disneyland.”

Schmick said he's also troubled by the fact the state is gearing up to purchase more land instead of using that money to keep existing parks open.

“The bottom line is something every farmer and every businessman I've ever talked to could understand: you take care of your existing facilities, your existing investments, before further extending yourself with new facilities and new investments,” Schmick said.  “The state says it doesn't have enough money to keep parks open but is busily going about its business of purchasing more land?  This is wrong.  But, unfortunately, it is somewhat indicative of the way Olympia does business.”

For more information, contact: Brendon Wold, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7698


Washington State House Republican Communications