Best ideas often come from private citizens, not government, says Hargrove

A bill to allow private property owners to give permission for visitors to use their private airstrips without fear of lawsuits was signed into law on March 7. House Bill 2244 was sponsored by Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, and was brought forward at a constituent’s suggestion.

House Bill 2244 adds aviation activities to specified outdoor recreational activities for which public and private landowners who allow public use without a fee are given immunity from liability for unintentional injuries suffered by recreational users of the land.

“I am grateful the constituent brought me this idea for legislation. It was a great opportunity to solicit the help of Representative Sullivan and Senator Fain to work across party lines and both chambers of the Legislature. It’s a simple fix that will allow for more access to airstrips around the state for tourist activities,” Hargrove said. “We expect it to generate economic activities in rural parts of the state as residents and out-of-state visitors arrange for vacations. Many of the airstrips are located in the most beautiful areas – places people want to visit. This increased aviation activity will definitely boost the economy and create jobs.”

House Bill 2244 will go into effect on June 7, 2012.

“The airstrip legislation was a good idea from a constituent, but there are other great examples of private citizens teaming up with a private companies to save taxpayer money and protect the environment. One such example was brought to my attention this session that would save local governments money while protecting emergency workers and the environment,” offered Hargrove.

Cummins Northwest, LLC, headquartered in Renton, participated in an innovative project demonstration at the state capital on Feb. 23. The problem brought to the company was the fuel costs to local governments for idling emergency vehicles and the concern about the pollution generated. The company, with expertise from its technology leads John Lightner and Bob Breeze, came up with solutions that will save local governments money and cut down on vehicle emissions.

One innovation is an auxiliary generator attached to larger emergency vehicles, such as fire engines. The auxiliary generator uses significantly less fuel than the main diesel engine of the vehicle and is much quieter at the scene. In the case of the aid cars, exhaust emissions are completely eliminated at the scene, as vehicles now utilize an auxiliary battery system to keep all of the key lights and medical equipment running when the vehicle’s engine is shut off.

“In this time of tight budgets, solutions like this are really great to see. A local company took the lead to find a way to ensure our aid cars have what they need to help in every situation without harming the environment and saving our local governments thousands of dollars on fuel costs as well as engine maintenance,” Hargrove said.  “Along the way, the company partnered with a state agency, but the private sector took the lead – not government. We need more of these creative ideas to solve some of the basic issues we face at both the state and local levels.”

In an e-mail, Lightner of Cummins Northwest said fire districts expect a significant return on investment as more vehicles are retrofitted. This cost-saving technology comes at a critical time for fire districts as they are looking for ways to cut costs to keep fire stations open and emergency personnel employed to ensure adequate public safety, he said.

“As we move forward, my hope is that state agencies, particularly those that have seen their budgets increase year after year, will use their funds effectively, not just to protect the environment, but to help our economy to thrive. This technology will help our local governments while preserving the jobs of our vital first responders,” Hargrove said.


Washington State House Republican Communications