Bainbridge Island voters, and those across the 23rd Legislative District, have certainly proven to have chosen a forward-thinking lawmaker.
Gov. Jay Inslee recently signed a bill that would help scuttle the increasingly apparent problem of derelict and abandoned boats and the trouble they pose to the environment.
An alarming number of incidents involving sinking ships have garnered headlines in recent months.
A derelict 140-foot former fishing boat caught fire on the coast of Whidbey Island, spewing fuel as it sank into the waters that are home to the farm that grows the world-famous Penn Cove mussels.
Also close to home, the 167-foot Helena Star sank in Tacoma’s Hylebos Waterway and pulled another ship, the 130-foot Golden West, off even keel as it went down.
The state also seized the New Star, a derelict ship in Port Ludlow, after the owner couldn’t follow through on plans to tow the 180-foot hulk to a scrapyard in Mexico.
The bill to tighten control over derelict vessels was proposed by Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island.
“This bill protects jobs by getting abandoned boats out of our waters before they sink and cause millions of dollars of damage to our state’s shellfish and recreation industries,” Hansen said. “This is a real concern for us in Kitsap County, where we have lots of jobs that depend on safe and clean waterways.”
The new law sets up a voluntary program for owners of decaying boats and ships, who can turn the vessels over to the state for proper disposal before they officially become “derelict,” a designation which potentially triggers government seizure.
Under the new law, owners of large, aging boats will also be required to get their vessels inspected before selling them.
The law is the latest bill by Hansen to be greeted by the governor’s pen. His proposal to encourage students to study computer science — by giving school districts the option of granting math or science credits for their high schoolers’ studies — was also recently signed into law.
Hansen, now serving in his first elected term, is getting results in Olympia, and that bodes well for Kitsap’s and Washington’s future.