July 2, 2008

Four Local Politicians Stand Out in Green Ratings

By Kathie Durbin, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.

Jul. 2--Four state lawmakers from Clark County have been singled out for recognition by Washington Conservation Voters -- not all of them in a good way.

The statewide environmental group released its 2007-08 Legislative Scorecard Tuesday, summarizing the voting records of Washington legislators during what it called "two of the most successful legislative sessions for the environment" in the organization's 27-year history.

Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, was named one of two "green champions" in the Senate, along with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. Pridemore was the prime sponsor of climate change legislation in the 2007 and 2008 sessions.

"Sen. Pridemore's leadership on budget and environmental issues, most notably on climate change, makes him the Senate's principal environmental champion," Conservation Voters said.

Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver, was one of 10 House members recognized for "good green deeds." Fromhold, who is leaving the Legislature at the end of this year, won kudos for securing $100 million in 2007 for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which funds land purchases for recreation and wildlife habitat across the state.

"This environmental community priority would not have been fully funded without his exemplary leadership as the chair of the Capital Budget Committee," the scorecard said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Jim Dunn, R-Vancouver, and Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, were named "green duds," along with Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, the House Republican leader. Both Dunn and Wallace are running for re-election to their 17th District seats.

Dunn's "continued outright hostility to the protection of our air, land, and water is simply astonishing, particularly in this era where the protection of our environment is becoming less partisan every day," the report said.

It noted that Dunn voted against protecting Puget Sound and cast the lone vote against a bill to remove some of the barriers that prevent school lunch programs from buying fresh produce from Washington farms.

Dunn said later that he voted against the healthy foods bill because he opposes state mandates on local school districts.

Wallace insists on reading

Wallace, who has a 94 percent lifetime ranking with Washington Conservation Voters, was scolded in the report for one vote, against a climate change and green jobs bill that the organization called the most important bill to come to a vote in 2008.

"We are at a loss as to why she broke ranks with her Clark County Democratic colleagues, House environmental champions and Gov. Gregoire while siding with the few anti-environmental business interests that opposed the legislation," the scorecard said.

Wallace responded indignantly to the scolding.

"They have put me in a crowd with Jim Dunn and DeBolt," she said. "Give me a break!"

She said the bill showed up on a list in the House Democratic Caucus without advance notice and that she had no time to read it before the floor vote.

"Here's a topic that has potentially a huge impact," she said. "I was actually angry that it came up and we were not given notice. I stand proud by my record of being thoughtful and giving due consideration to important legislation before I vote on it."

Senators were scored on 13 floor votes, House members on 11, on topics ranging from slowing climate change to banning toxic flame retardants to cleaning up Puget Sound.

Kathie Durbin covers politics and the Legislature. Reach her at 360-735-4523 or [email protected]


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