Senate approves Padden bill to help pollinators

A bill requested by a Mount Spokane High School student to help bees and other pollinators has cleared the Senate this year.

The Senate voted 48-1 to pass 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. The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Prior to today’s vote, Padden told the Senate how pollinators, including bees and butterflies, play a very important role in the pollination of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

“They play a vital role in sustaining agriculture. It really can’t be overstated since 75% of the world’s food supply depends on pollinators. Taking steps to protect and enhance pollinators is very important to the environment but also important to agriculture practices,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

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

“Julia is a Girl Scout working to finish requirements to earn the Gold Award, which is equivalent to earning the Eagle Scout award as a Boy Scout,” said Padden. “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. I’m pleased the Senate passed this bill and I hope the House will do likewise this session. 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 to Padden in January 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.”

Under the amended version of the bill, a local government may encourage but need not require applicants for project or commercial-building permits to include pollinator-friendly plants in any landscaped area.