Senate approves Warnick rural economic development bill in special session

A critical piece of legislation for Washington State’s economic health has been resurrected during the 2015 second special session. For two years Sen. Judy Warnick has been working to boost rural economic development. Wednesday the Senate approved Senate Bill 5442 which makes needed changes to the Community and Economic Revitalization Board requirements to improve competitiveness and spur economic growth.

“This is a priority issue for communities across the state,” said Warnick. “I am pleased that the Senate has made job creation and competitiveness for rural communities a priority.”

Last year, then Rep. Warnick’s bill passed both chambers of the Legislature only to be vetoed. That bill would have provided for 50 percent of the projects awarded to be exempted from the median wage provision. The version passed by the Senate allows for 25 percent of the jobs to be exempted from the wage provision.

“This legislation faced opposition when I brought if forward in the House and I’ve worked with stakeholders to find a solution,” Warnick said. “This legislation will mean more jobs for my district and communities statewide. Having more job opportunities as a result of the change in CERB policy is better than no jobs.”

The Board offers financing and grants to local jurisdictions but requires that entities receiving funding demonstrate that permanent private sector jobs created exceed the county median wage. This poses a problem for many rural areas with high paying industries in a portion of the county but other economically depressed areas in the same county.