County officials wary of unfunded mandate
Chamber director: Bald Eagle Days are planned
March 11, 2021
Wahkiakum County's board of commissioners on Tuesday turned their attention to the state legislature in Olympia.
Commissioners agreed by consensus to a request from District Court Judge Heidi Heywood to lobby for changes in proposed legislation that could be very costly if approved in present form.
The bill, Heywood said, would require the county to provide a public defender attorney for respondents in hearings for protection orders when the petitioner is represented by an attorney.
"We handle a large number of these orders," Heywood said. "We would have to provide counsel, and there is no funding. There might be an intention to provide funding in a future session, but in the past, that hasn't happened . . . it has become an unfunded mandate."
Heywood said she had contacted the District 19 legislators who have responded they wouldn't support the legislation.
Commissioners said they would do some lobbying. Commissioner Lee Tischer has already made some contacts, and Chair Gene Strong said he would raise the issue with the Washington State Association of Counties Legislative Steering Committee.
Heywood will also work with Strong to draft a letter to send to appropriate committees that would work on the bill.
In other business, Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce Director Stacey Lane presented a report of the organization's recent and future activities.
Lane said Chamber members want to bring back the annual Bald Eagle Festival, which was cancelled last year because of the covid-19 pandemic.
"I'm afraid that if we let it go another year, it will fly away," she said.
Chamber members will work with the county health department to plan a safe festival, she said. They're optimistic; they've already engaged the fireworks company for the festival, she said.
In other activities, the Chamber is working with the community resource center to help bring employers and job seekers together; they've aided businesses to access financial assistance to deal with the pandemic, and the organization is planning community activities that can bring tourists to the county.