Discover Pass revisions advance to governor's desk
March 9, 2012 · 10:49 AM
By Maida Suljevic
WNPA Olympia News Bureau
A bill to revise a 2011 law concerning recreational land access pass program that helps create additional operation funds for state parks was approved Thurday, clearing the House and moving to the governor's desk for final approval.
Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2373 was originally sponsored this session by Democrat Representatives Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger, both 24th District legislators living in Sequim. An amended version of their bill passed the Senate 30-17 March 6, and the House concurred Wednesday by a 60-37 vote after Representatives accepted major amendments made to the measure in the Senate.
The bill proposes changes to the Discover Pass, which was created during last year's legislative session and was implemented in July. It is required on every vehicle that enters or parks on state recreational lands. An annual pass costs $30 while a day-use pass costs $10. Vehicles failing to display the pass while on those lands are subject to $99 fines.
Revenue generated by the Discover Pass is distributed to Washington State Parks, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The measure approved by the Legislature includes a variety of changes to the original Discover Pass law including the transferability of the pass between two vehicles. The access pass would provide space for two license plate numbers. It would become active once it has been marked rather than when purchased.
Officials at State Parks, DFW and DNR would also be able to create a family pass to be used on recreational lands. This pass would be fully transferable between vehicles and would not require a license plate number. The legislation stipulates that the price of the pass must not exceed $50.
The measure also expands a donation program currently in place. When vehicle owners renew their license plate tabs, a $5 donation to state parks is included in the total cost. It is voluntary and allows owners to opt-out of the charge. The bill also expands the donation program to include licenses for mopeds, off-road vehicles, trucks and buses.
Washington State Parks is granted discretionary privileges when accommodating events on recreational land. Park officials may waive the requirements of the Discover Pass or set fees they deem appropriate.
State Parks is also granted the authority to use pay stations to collect fees and sell the pass. Park patrons deposit the payment, using cash or check, in the pay box and a parks' employees collect the money daily.
The measure is on its way to the governor's desk for final approval.