S-1605.2  _______________________________________________


                    SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5386



State of Washington      55th Legislature     1997 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Parks (originally sponsored by Senators Oke, Prentice, Patterson, Kline, Haugen, Kohl, Winsley, Franklin and Rasmussen; by request of Department of Fish and Wildlife, Commissioner of Public Lands and Department of Natural Resources)


Read first time 02/17/97.

Creating the jobs for the environment program.

    AN ACT Relating to the jobs for the environment program; adding new sections to chapter 43.21J RCW; repealing RCW 43.21J.005, 43.21J.010, 43.21J.020, 43.21J.030, 43.21J.040, 43.21J.050, 43.21J.060, 43.21J.070, 43.21J.800, 43.21J.900, 43.21J.901, 43.21J.902, 43.21J.903, and 43.21J.904; providing an effective date; and declaring an emergency.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  (1) The legislature finds the long-term health of the economy of Washington state depends on healthy natural resources.

    (2) The legislature further finds the livelihoods, revenues, and other benefits derived from Washington's natural resources are threatened by continuing degradation of water quality and habitat, and that investment is required to prevent the collapse of economically important industries that rely on a healthy environment, and improve poorly functioning ecosystems.

    (3) The legislature further finds fisheries and timber-dependent communities can provide the skills and people and affected natural resource workers could greatly benefit from family wages and benefits employment associated with implementing priority projects.

    (4) The legislature therefore declares, and it is the intent and purpose of this chapter, to make immediate and continuing investment to restore and conserve the health of the state's watersheds, to foster voluntary watershed partnerships within and near fisheries and timber-dependent communities, to train and employ affected natural resource workers, to minimize the need to list species as threatened or endangered and promote the recovery of those species that remain listed, and to provide funds to continue the department of ecology's Washington conservation corps program.  And it is also the intent that employment is at family wages with benefits for those who continue to be affected by economic dislocation.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

    (1) "Affected natural resource worker" means those workers eligible to receive wages and benefits through the jobs for the environment program, including:

    (a) Workers previously employed under the jobs for the environment program;

    (b) Workers in a qualified natural resource training program such as a state-approved apprenticeship program;

    (c) New certified dislocated natural resource workers; and

    (d) The workers listed in (a) through (c) of this subsection are preferred;

    (e) Other workers from fisheries and timber-dependent communities that have at least a two-year work history in a timber-dependent community.

    (2) "Agreement" means any jobs for the environment grant, procurement, contract, or other legally binding document.

    (3) "Conservation" means activities that support the sustainability of critical watershed functions including such activities as field assessment of conditions prior to initiating restoration work and field and mapping functions related to stream typing.

    (4) "Impact areas" means rural natural resources impact areas as defined in RCW 43.31.601 and areas in which at-risk fish stocks coincide.

    (5) "Account" means the jobs for the environment restoration account that provides funding to implement the provisions of this chapter to restore and conserve watersheds within Washington state.

    (6) For the purposes of determining eligibility as a direct applicant to the jobs for the environment program, "private for-profit" is defined as small business, under RCW 19.85.020, which is any business entity including sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, that is owned and operated independently from all other businesses that has the purpose of making a profit and has fifty or fewer employees.  Any for-profit business is eligible to receive funds as a subcontractor to a locally funded project, regardless of the business size.

    (7) "Qualified watershed partnership" means an entity consisting of stakeholders representing diverse interests of the watershed and with sufficient authority or resources to carry out a long-term restoration and conservation plan in the area of operation  they have identified.

    (8) "Task force" means the jobs for the environment task force created under section 4 of this act.

    (9) "Watershed restoration" means altering current conditions in measurable ways to provide water quality and habitat adequate to contribute to the sustainability of healthy, diverse populations of fish and wildlife in a watershed.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  (1) The jobs for the environment restoration account is established in the state treasury.  Money in the account may be spent only after appropriation by the legislature and in a manner consistent with this chapter.

    (2) Entities eligible to apply for funds include private nonprofits, small private for-profits, and local, state, and tribal governments.

    (3) Funds may only be expended under restoration and conservation agreements entered into by the state under this chapter that are part of a long-term restoration and conservation planning effort that includes an acceptable multiyear capital investment strategy and contributes to the restoration and conservation identifying financial participation from key public and private partners.  The plan provides for a local match consisting of funds or in kind of at least twenty percent in the first year of state investment, and thereafter increasing the nonstate jobs for the environment share by five percent or more each year of the plan in which state jobs for the environment investment is sought, until achieving a fifty-fifty state jobs for the environment funding to nonstate jobs for the environment funding ratio.  Match requirements may be adjusted by the task force to avoid cases of unavoidable hardship that would otherwise result in an entity being ineligible.

    (4) Funds are awarded on a competitive basis.  Funds shall be used for watershed and conservation projects and programs as jointly identified by the department of natural resources and the department of fish and wildlife with input from the task force.  The task force may review, evaluate, and make recommendations on projects and programs being considered for funding.  Of the funds available within the  account, the task force may recommend projects or programs that will:

    (a) Use up to twenty-five percent of the funds available to fund projects from within impact areas as determined by the task force to exist;

    (b) Use up to fifty percent of the funds available to fund projects within areas where a qualified watershed partnership exists or would likely exist in the near future as determined by the task force;

    (c) Use up to thirteen percent of the funds available for local projects that carry out area-wide planning, and project or area-wide monitoring and assessment activities.  Up to one-half of the funding in this subsection is available for watershed partnerships not able to meet program planning and monitoring requirements without this assistance.

    (5) Up to twelve percent may be expended for administrative and technical assistance purposes.  However, funds expended by the Washington conservation corps are subject solely to limitations set forth in RCW 43.220.230.

    (6) Except for essential administrative, supervisory, and technical assistance purposes, funds in the account may not be used for hiring permanent state employees.

    (7) Funds are not awarded for:

    (a) Administrative rule making;

    (b) Community outreach;

    (c) Acquisition of real property;

    (d) Mitigation work required under state or federal permits;

    (e) Incentives or bonuses to salaried employees; or

    (f) Marketing studies or research.

    (8) Nonprofit organizations may receive up to ten percent of the agreement award for start-up costs upon submission of their completed scope of work.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  (1) The jobs for the environment task force is created within the department of natural resources.  The purpose of the task force is to provide a coordinated and comprehensive approach to implementation of this chapter.  The task force consists of the following representative or their designee:

    (a) The commissioner of public lands;

    (b) The director of the department of fish and wildlife;

    (c) The director of the department of ecology;

    (d) The director of the work force training and education coordinating board;

    (e) The governor's rural community assistance team coordinator;

    (f) A tribal representative;

    (g) A federal agency representative from among participating federal agencies; and

    (h) At least eight public members but no more than ten, selected at large, representing community and nongovernmental interests.

    The public members include at least one representative from each of the following:

    (i) State-wide rural community economic development organization;

    (ii) A conservation district;

    (iii) Small restoration business interest;

    (iv) Fishing and shellfish industry;

    (v) Organized labor;

    (vi) Timber industry;

    (vii) State-wide environmental organization; and

    (viii) Community-based private nonprofit organization with a watershed restoration focus.

    The representatives of the tribal, federal, and public members shall serve three-year terms, except for one-third who shall serve an initial term of one year and one-third who shall serve an initial term of two years.  The task force may seek the advice of other agencies and organizations as needed.  The commissioner of public lands appoints the chair and public members.  The governor appoints the governmental members of the task force.  A task force quorum for meetings consists of at least one-half of the government and at least one-half plus one of the community, tribal, and public members.  All members serve without additional pay, except that public representatives will have travel costs reimbursed.  Participation in the work of the committee by agency members is considered in performance of their employment.  The department of natural resources will staff and provide administrative support to the task force and solicit the participation of agency personnel to assist the task force.

    (2)  The task force has the following responsibilities:

    (a) Reviewing and periodically updating criteria to be used in selecting projects and programs for funding from the account;

    (b) Soliciting on a competitive basis, evaluating, and ranking requests for funds from the account;

    (c)  Recommending plans, projects, agreements, and apprenticeship and other quality training activities as defined in section 2 of this act to the commissioner of public lands for approval and funding;

    (d) Assisting state agencies and local governments in the implementation of effective watershed restoration and conservation projects funded under this chapter, and in the development of qualified local watershed partnerships and locally based restoration and conservation plans; and

    (e) Submitting to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature a biennial report summarizing the benefits created by the projects funded under this chapter, and making recommendations for improving the jobs for the environment program.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  The task force evaluates and recommends proposals for funding from the account using, at a minimum, the following criteria:

    (1) The ability of the proponents of the project to quantify their projected improvements in water or habitat quality and quantity;

    (2) The inclusion of the project as a priority in a federal, state, tribal, or local plan, until a completed watershed restoration and conservation plan has been prepared;

    (3) The number and duration of jobs with family wages and benefits to be created or retained for affected natural resource workers by the project; projects that achieve stable, one-year or longer jobs.  Jobs that avoid redislocating natural resource workers from the jobs for the environment program are to be given added consideration over those that do not;

    (4) The extent to which the project will help avoid further listings of threatened or endangered species and providing for recovery of those already listed;

    (5) The participation as a cosponsor or employer by tribes or private for-profits to provide funds, equipment time, materials, or technical expertise, including training to match state or federal funds.  The jobs for the environment program will strongly promote training that is offered through a state-approved natural resource apprenticeship program, whenever practicable, in the area.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  The department of natural resources is the administering state agency for the jobs for the environment program and may enter into such agreements and cooperative watershed partnerships that are needed or desired to ensure the effective implementation of this chapter.  The department of fish and wildlife is the source of state assistance for knowledge and technical expertise in addressing fish and wildlife issues.  The department of ecology is the source of state assistance for knowledge and expertise in addressing water quality issues.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.  An individual is considered to be in training with the approval of the commissioner of employment security as defined in RCW 50.20.043, and is eligible for applicable unemployment insurance benefits while participating in and making satisfactory progress in training related to this chapter.

    (1) For recruitment purposes, the task force will give notification of potential new jobs to local employment security offices, local labor organizations, and central labor councils in the area of funding.  The list includes the number, location, and types of jobs expected to be provided by each project.  The employment security department may recruit additional dislocated workers for these jobs, when needed, by:

    (a) Notifying dislocated fishers and forest workers who meet the definitions in chapter 50.70 RCW, who are receiving unemployment benefits or who have exhausted unemployment benefits, of their eligibility for the programs;

    (b) Notifying other unemployed workers that have at least a two-year work history in a timber-dependent community;

    (c) Developing a pool of unemployed workers including high-risk youth eligible to enroll in the program that have at least a two-year work history in a timber-dependent community; and

    (d) Establishing procedures for workers to apply to the programs.

    The workers listed in (a) of this subsection shall be notified first.

    (2) The employment security department will certify and refer eligible workers to employers hiring under the jobs for the environment programs.  Recipients of funds must consider the list of eligible workers developed by the employment security department before conducting interviews or making hiring decisions for dislocated workers entering the program.  Workers may receive opportunities for vocational training, job placement, and remedial education.  The employment security department shall audit each employer at the beginning of each project and every three months thereafter and certify that dislocated fishers and forest workers are being utilized to the greatest extent possible.

    (3) An individual is eligible for applicable employment security benefits while participating in training related to this chapter.  Eligibility is confirmed by the commissioner of employment security by submitting a commissioner-approved training waiver.

    (4) Persons receiving funds from the account are not considered state employees for the purposes of existing provisions of law with respect to hours of work, sick leave, vacation, and civil service but may receive health benefits.  Persons receiving funds from the account who are hired by a state agency may receive medical and dental benefits under chapter 41.05 RCW and industrial insurance coverage under Title 51 RCW, but are exempt from the provisions under chapter 41.06 RCW.

    (5) Employment under this program does not result in the displacement or partial displacement, whether by the reduction of hours of nonovertime work, wages, and benefits, or other employment benefits, of currently employed workers, including but not limited to state civil service employees, or of currently or normally contracted services.

    (6) With an employer's written consent, workers who must commute daily over sixty miles round trip are eligible for transportation expenses incurred when using a private vehicle.

    (7) For the purpose of providing the protection of the unemployment compensation system to individuals at the conclusion of training or employment obtained as a result of this chapter, a special base year and benefit year are established.

    (a) Only individuals who have entered training or employment provided by the account, and whose employment or training under the account was not considered covered under chapter 50.04 RCW, are allowed the special benefit provisions of this chapter.

    (b) An application for initial determination made under this chapter must be filed in writing with the employment security department within twenty-six weeks following the week in which the individual commenced employment or training obtained as a result of this chapter.  Notice from the individual, from the employing entity, or notice of hire from employment security department administrative records satisfies this requirement.

    (c) For the purpose of this chapter, a special base year is established for an individual consisting of the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters, or if a benefit year is not established using the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters as the base year, the last four completed calendar quarters immediately prior to the first day of the calendar week in which the individual began employment or training provided by the account.

    (d) A special individual benefit year is established consisting of the entire period of training or employment provided by the account and a fifty-two consecutive week period commencing with the first day of the calendar week in which the individual last participated in the employment or training.  No special benefit year may have a duration in excess of three hundred twelve calendar days.  This special benefit year is not established unless the criteria contained in RCW 50.04.030 has been met, except that an individual meeting the requirements of this chapter and who has an unexpired benefit year established which would overlap the special benefit year may elect to establish a special benefit year under this chapter, notwithstanding the provisions in RCW 50.04.030 relating to establishment of a subsequent benefit year, and RCW 50.40.010 relating to waiver of rights.  This unexpired benefit year is terminated at the beginning of the special benefit year if the individual elects to establish a special benefit year under this chapter.

    (e) The individual's weekly benefit amount and maximum amount payable during the special benefit year are governed by the provisions contained in RCW 50.20.120.  The individual's basic and continuing right to benefits are governed by the general laws and rules relating to the payment of unemployment compensation benefits to the extent that they are not in conflict with this chapter.

    (f) The fact that wages, hours, or weeks worked during the special base year may have been used in computation of a prior valid claim for unemployment compensation may not affect a claim for benefits made under this chapter.  However, wages, hours, and weeks worked used in computing entitlement on a claim filed under this chapter are not available or used for establishing entitlement or amount of benefits in any succeeding benefit year.

    (g) Benefits paid to an individual filing under this section are not charged to the experience rating account of any contribution paying employer.

    (8) The department of labor and industries is directed to expedite through administrative approval of the jobs for the environment program's current wages as the prevailing wages under chapter 39.12 RCW for watershed restoration workers employed under this chapter.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 8.  On or before June 30, 2000, the department of natural resources will prepare a report to the legislature evaluating the implementation of this chapter.  Indicators of success that shall be reported on include the following factors: 

    (1) Whether effective local watershed restoration and conservation strategies consistent with state guidelines have been adopted;

    (2) The number of dislocated fishers and forest workers employed by each project;

    (3) The number of previously dislocated workers, employed and trained through jobs for the environment, that have found long-term employment;

    (4) Active use by sponsors of one or more training curriculum for watershed restoration workers that promote effective and consistent skills needed by restoration workers;

    (5) Whether project design guidelines have been prepared and applied that are based on generally accepted standards and techniques;

    (6) The number of funded projects underway in a timely manner;

    (7) The number of projects started versus successfully completed and effectively documented; and the completion of a credible program review allowing the program to learn from individual project strengths and weaknesses;

    (8) Whether the program's local match requirements are achieving the expected results of promoting strong local support;

    (9) The effectiveness and quantity of on-the-ground accomplishments, for example, miles of stream bed or riparian area restored, miles of forest roads impacting water quality that are decommissioned, and the effectiveness of stream bank projects to reduce sedimentation; and

    (10) Whether local watershed health indicators are established and being adequately monitored and reported on to determine area-wide progress in meeting watershed health goals.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 9.  Sections 1 through 8 of this act are each added to chapter 43.21J RCW.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 10.  The following acts or parts of acts are each repealed:

    (1) RCW 43.21J.005 and 1993 c 516 s 1;

    (2) RCW 43.21J.010 and 1995 c 226 s 26 & 1993 c 516 s 2;

    (3) RCW 43.21J.020 and 1993 c 516 s 3;

    (4) RCW 43.21J.030 and 1994 c 264 s 17 & 1993 c 516 s 5;

    (5) RCW 43.21J.040 and 1993 c 516 s 4;

    (6) RCW 43.21J.050 and 1993 c 516 s 8;

    (7) RCW 43.21J.060 and 1993 c 516 s 9;

    (8) RCW 43.21J.070 and 1993 c 516 s 10;

    (9) RCW 43.21J.800 and 1996 c 288 s 36 & 1993 c 516 s 11;

    (10) RCW 43.21J.900 and 1993 c 516 s 15;

    (11) RCW 43.21J.901 and 1993 c 516 s 16;

    (12) RCW 43.21J.902 and 1993 c 516 s 17;

    (13) RCW 43.21J.903 and 1993 c 516 s 19; and

    (14) RCW 43.21J.904 and 1993 c 516 s 20.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 11.  This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect July 1, 1997.


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