Panel passes Padden pollinator proposal

Legislation requested by a Mount Spokane High School student to help bees and other pollinators is buzzing through the Senate this year.

The Senate Local Government, Land Use and Tribal Affairs Committee today approved Senate Bill 5934, a bipartisan measure introduced by 4th District Sen. Mike Padden that aims to promote the use of pollinator-friendly shrubs or bushes in landscaping.

Mount Spokane High School senior Julia Costello approached Padden this past fall about sponsoring the bill.

“Julia is a Girl Scout working to complete the requirements to earn the Gold Award, which is equivalent to earning the Eagle Scout award as a Boy Scout,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “One of Julia’s Gold Award requirements is working with a legislator on sponsoring a bill. Julia made a compelling case why improving pollinators’ habitat is beneficial, and I’m glad to see this bill pass out of committee today. It has been an honor and pleasure to work with her.”

Costello’s testimony in favor of the bill during its Jan. 11 public hearing before the committee can be viewed here.

Spokane Conservation District Director Vicki Carter sent a letter yesterday to Padden in support of the proposal. Part of Carter’s letter reads: Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and other insects, play a fundamental role in the pollination of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Their vital role in sustaining agriculture cannot be overstated, as approximately 75% of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators for successful reproduction. Therefore, taking steps to protect and enhance pollinator populations is essential for ensuring food security and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.”

Before passing SB 5934, the Senate panel approved an amendment that establishes that a local government may encourage, but does not have to require, applicants for project or commercial-building permits to include pollinator-friendly plants in any landscaped area.

The proposal is expected to be sent to the Senate Rules Committee, which serves as the final hurdle before bills reach the Senate floor for a vote by the entire Senate.