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Legislature approves ‘Discover Pass’ for state lands

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on April 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm with 7 Comments »
April 21, 2011 5:53 pm

Lawmakers wrapped up work today on one piece of their budget puzzle.

They agreed to charge $30 a year to drive into state parks and forests and other state lands, sending SB 5622 to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature on a party-line House vote. The governor has supported the concept and included it in her budget plan.

Her legislative director, Jim Justin, said Gregoire needs to take a look at changes made by the Legislature but that she’s pleased the bill has passed.

The annual pass and a $10 day pass for those who don’t buy it would raise $64 million, with $54 million going to state parks and the rest divided between two other agencies that manage state lands, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.Though it passed the Senate Wednesday on a bipartisan vote, final legislative approval came in the House today over the objections of all Republicans.

They complained that not all of the money goes to parks and questioned whether lawmakers might grab the money from parks in the future as they have done with many other dedicated funds.

“There’s no guarantee that the money this pass is going to raise will actually go to state parks,” Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee, said. And Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard added: “I believe we’re setting our citizens up for a real disappointment.”

But Democrats said budget cuts would close lands to public access and cut down on maintenance and law enforcement at those that remain open, unless the new fee is approved to cover the gap.

“It fills the (budget) hole by having people who utilize the parks pay for the parks,” said Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila.

At $2.50 per month for use of 119 parks and the 6.5 million acres of land managed by the other agencies, Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, called the fee “an extraordinary bargain.”

Some who already pay to use state lands wouldn’t have to buy the pass because of exemptions for hunters, fishermen, boaters, campers and snowmobile drivers. And parks could pick up to 12 days a year for free access.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Well the democrats screw us again. They charge you to enter your own park but keep programs so illeagls can get free health care.

    They didn’t even approve an admendment to remove the existing $5 donation. This is not fare to leave both fees on the books and shows they only care about getting their hands on the money. Jan Angel was right to vote no on this bill.

    Well I will not be opting in to pay either of these fees. When you renew your tabs just tell the clerk you want to opt out of ALL state park donations. Look at all the fees the democrats have raised this session.

    Tim Eyman, please help us. Please start an ininative to roll back ALL fees passed by the legislature this session. It’s been criminal. I feel raped by the democrats with all their fees.

  2. As someone who enjoys state parks and visits them regularly, I have no problem paying more of a user fee for this.

    My concern is that the legislature and governor routinely sweep dedicated funds General Fund uses, and so I would prefer tighter protection of these funds to guarantee they are used to maintain state lands.

    If the legislature and governor want to move towards more a “user pays” approach to state services, that’s fine, but in that case I think citizens deserve stronger guarantees that user fees actually go towards the services they’re using.

  3. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    To late John, they will start to sweep this money before they even start to collect. They have done it 93 times already this year.

  4. If the Public goes along with this debacle of charging Fees to enter a State Park,you can expect an increase in State Park fees in the future as the Democrats have found another Cash Cow to milk!To combat this injustice to the citizens of Washington,I say to you, the only way to combat this, is just refuse to visit anything the State charges Fees to visit.If you don’t rebel against these Fees,you will see more and more coming your way.If enough taxpayers refuse to be victims of The Legislatures plan to get more funds from the voters,maybe the Lawmakers will get the hint.But if past history repeats itself,they will just probably say the voters don’t know whats good for them.

  5. Fishermen and Hunters are getting screwed….the access pass you get with your fishing and hunting license is good for only Department of Wildlife lands…..if you want to fish or hunt on DNR managed lands you are going to need to fork over another $30….which is rediculous because 84% goes to state parks and you can’t deer or elk hunt in a state park…..if state parks needs the money, let them have it all but drop the permit requirement for access to other state managed lands.

  6. George Rainha says:

    I already pay over 150 dollars in Tag and license fees which should give me access to all of the above.But it only accesses WDFW lands.For DNR I need a pass.To pay more money without stopping wasteful spending in Olympia is like peeing in the wind.GR

  7. Radio_Randy says:

    I don’t use the State or DNR parks. However, to drive to a nearby mountain top with no bathrooms, picnic tables or even a fire pit, I still have to fork over $30 a year for the “privilege”.

    Not one dime of this money will go toward the places I visit and the state Democrats call this “fair”.

    I’m all for state agencies being reimbursed for expenses incurred by the maintenance of their parks and such. If this pass were required only to visit parks and campgrounds, I’d be satisfied.

    Lastly, I remember how the State Lottery started out…the monies were designated to go towards our educational systems. We are now told that we simply “misunderstood” what they told us. This fee will likely go the same way. The majority will enter the General Fund and the Dems will decide what the three beneficiary agencies “need” from that. Just give it a couple years.

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