Politics Blog

Elections: Buys would promote industrial hemp, water for farmers if elected

If Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, defeats Democratic challenger Joy Monjure in this November's general election, he hopes to continue in the same main role he had in this year's session of the Washington state Legislature.

(Buys and Monjure appear on the primary ballot, which is due from voters on Tuesday, Aug. 5. The primary is only a dry run for this race, which will be decided on the November ballot.)

I asked Buys in a phone interview today, Tuesday, July 29, what committees he expects to work in.

"This last session I got ranking (minority party) member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee," said Buys, who seeks a third term in the state House representing Legislative District 42 (all of Whatcom County except south Bellingham and the southwest county). "That was a trial run. From feedback I've been getting -- I'm looking forward to continuing in that role."

Buys would continue to work on agricultural issues on that committee, he said.

An industrial hemp bill that has made progress but hasn't gone all the way through the Legislature should pass in 2015, Buys said. (He is not a listed sponsor, but he has worked on the bill, he said.)

UPDATE: Buys did sponsor another hemp bill. HB 2405 would have allowed hemp to be added to livestock feed. Both Buys' bill and the main industrial hemp bill, HB 1888, had the same fate in the 2014 session: Both passed the House 97-0 but didn't get all the way through the Senate in time.

"It was just a matter of informing people" about the hemp bill in the past sessions, Buys said. "We ran out of time moving it through the process. Now that everybody knows the issue, it will be very easy to get it through."

(For a quick background on what industrial hemp is, click here for text copied from the second substitute House bill report.)

Like Monjure, Buys wants to help 42nd District farmers get the water they need, so that major part of the north county economy can be maintained.

His solution involves transferring water from Blaine to water districts just to the east. It would bring water from a part of the county not in the Nooksack River watershed into that basin, resulting in a net gain for what is an overextended resource -- Nooksack water.

The motivation for this approach is that it could be a way to provide enough water for everyone -- fish, farmers, well users and the rest.

Feasibility studies must be conducted first, to assess how much water is available from Blaine, how clean it is, how big the pipe will need to be to transport it, etc. Buys said he would work in the Legislature to fund those studies.

Buys is among a large group of politicians who are apt to say, "We've studied this to death" or, "Eventually you have to stop studying and get something done." But Buys conceded the Blaine-to-Nooksack solution, if it is to happen at all, is years away.

"Realistically, the way we're currently fighting about water, there is no potential resolution in sight," Buys said. With this proposal, he went on to say, "we're moving from no determination of a resolution to a possible two, three, four or five-year-out solution."

More on campaign finances

In yesterday's post about Monjure's campaign I mentioned Buys' 5-to-1 advantage in campaign fundraising so far.

Big donors haven't been showing up to Monjure's campaign. The only donation bigger than $250 that Monjure received was $750 from Amalgamated Transit Union. (A local office of ATU represents Whatcom Transportation Authority employees.) The maximum allowed donation to a candidate is $950 each for the primary and general elections.

Buys has a substantial list of $950+ donors. Several individuals and organizations gave Buys the overall maximum of $1,900.

$1,900 donors to Buys' primary/general campaigns

John and Arlis Bosman*Dusty Gulleson

Northwest Credit Union Association

Phillips 66

Washington Refuse and Recycling Association PAC

Washington Affordable Housing Council

Washington Restaurant Association PAC

*The Bosmans so far have given to the primary campaign only. As a couple, they can give $950 per individual to each campaign.