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Hunting access

State Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, is supporting a bill to encourage forest landowners to open their lands up to the public.

House Bill 1346 would designate money from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to help offset expenses or damages to private landowners who allow public access hunting on their property.

“The bill could apply to large corporate landowners or smaller property owners,” Blake said.

Weyerhaeuser Co. is one such large landowner. It imposed an unpopular fee system on is area tree farms this year partly because of vandalism problems.

“I opposed their current program, and this is an attempt, admittedly a small one, to try and reward landowners who chose to allow access,” Blake said.

Marijuana

State Sen. Brian Hatfield has launched a bipartisan effort to simplify tax rules on marijuana stemming from voter approval of Initiative 502 in 2013.

Hatfield, D-Raymond, a proposing legislation to shift the tax burden entirely on to consumers.

Now, a 25 percent tax is charged at three stages — production, distribution and retail. Their bill would charge a single 25 percent tax on retail sales and eliminate the tax and the growing and distribution stage.

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The bill would solve a tax problem caused by federal law, which still makes all marijuana production and possession illegal. The law does not allow businesses that sell “controlled substances” to deduct the states taxes when they file federal tax returns.

That, Hatfield said, could put many legal marijuana enterprises out of business.

“We realized there’s actually a great deal of support for the idea of making it simpler and collapsing the taxes that Initiative 502 created into a single point of sales tax at the retail level,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield also is working on a bill that would allow growers and producers to hire transport companies to ship their marijuana.

“Initiative 502 said the growers and producers … would have to use their own vehicles and own employees to transport. That can be difficult if you’re leaving Raymond with a couple million dollars worth of product for Tacoma. It’s not really safe,” Hatfield said.

Along with making it safer for the businesses and employees, Hatfield said the bill could help create more jobs.

“I see the investments that are going into my hometown and certainly into other places in the state, and the anticipation of more investments has got people cleaning up downtown and really trying to turn it around. It’s so good to see,” he said.

Small spaces

Rep. Blake is sponsoring a House Bill 1123, a “micro housing” bill. It would bar counties and cities with fewer than 125,000 people from setting minimum dimensions for single-family home — unless needed for fire and safety reasons.

“We’re just trying to create some flexibility so folks who may want to build smaller structures that are more energy efficient are able to,” Blake said. “They may not want a 3,000-square-foot home.”

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Contact Daily News reporter Shari Phiel at 360-577-2510 or sphiel@tdn.com.

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