Legislative Issues Impacting BCHW in 2004
February 13, 2004
By: Mark Gjurasic, Jason Bishop Lobbyist


In 2004 the Back Country Horsemen of Washington saddled up to the lobbying team of Gjurasic, Kohl & Bishop, public affairs consultants, to have lobbying representation before the Washington State legislature. Together we will have a new voice in state government. Our major legislative concerns in 2004 have been, monitoring the increasing requirements on the identification of livestock, preservation of our environment, working on future, statewide, legislation with the Department of Agriculture, and lobbying for  a reduction in personal use trailer fees.

 The mad cow disease “panic” that has spread through Washington State has had negative consequences to our association. More specifically, there are numerous bills currently being debated and drafted that would force our members to subject their passion of riding to the bureaucratic red tape of increased fees charged under the proposed livestock identification laws.

 These bills will broaden the nature of "livestock identification" to include expressly the examination of documents regarding ownership. Being required to provide the evidence of ownership that must accompany cattle or horses when they are moved will more strictly and overly regulate our members.

 We are currently monitoring the various livestock identification bills and are working with lawmakers to ensure these bills do not adversely affect our members.

 We understand environmental issues are a high priority to our members. This year SB6144 was introduced requiring that the commissioner and the Department of Natural Resources develop and pursue cooperative agreements with the United States forest service and the United States bureau of land management.

 The purpose of these agreements is to enable the department to effectively participate in land management plans that could affect the department's strategic plan for healthy forests and effective fire prevention and suppression.  Such government-to-government cooperation is vital if the conditions of the state’s public and private forestlands are to be protected.

 We have lobbied for the support of SB6144 and it is now in the Senate Rules committee waiting to be voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. We will continue to actively monitor this issue

 It has come to our attention that the Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Advisory Committee is currently accepting proposals from those interested in occupying the seat vacated as a result of the resignation of the past BCHW representative. We will be working closely with the agency and will monitor the development of this committee.

 In the 2002 session, the Legislature repealed the statute that exempted small trailers from paying vehicle registration fees.  Because of this, small trailers became subject to the $30 vehicle registration fee and, in certain counties, became subject to the local licensing fees.

 If passed SB 6110 would allow, for single-axle personal use trailers less than 2,000 pounds to only pay an annual license fee of $15.  We support this legislation and have lobbied hard to have it voted out of the Highway & Transportation Committee and into the Rules Committee where it currently stands.

 We are proud to be representing the Back Country Horsemen of Washington before the Washington State legislature and look forward to serving the interests of your association in the upcoming years.