Fortunato’s ‘Welcome to Washington’ litter bill approved by Senate

Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, to clean up Washington’s highways was approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 5093, known as the “Welcome to Washington” act, would prioritize litter control on state highways and require coordination of the state’s agencies, including the departments of Ecology, Transportation and State Patrol, using the current hidden litter tax.

“I travel a lot for work and spend even more time in traffic,” said Fortunato. “If you pay attention, you’ll notice our roadways are a mess. There are bumpers and tires, sometimes even couches on the side of our highways. When you come into Washington from Oregon, there is big, beautiful sign that says ‘Welcome to Washington,’ and you’re greeted with trash on the highway.”

Fortunato’s bill would increase coordination during lane closures between the state agencies in charge of keeping highways and roads litter-free in order to clear large debris.

“You probably have seen the signs on the highway for an Ecology crew, but they don’t have the ability to clean up large items, but the state Department of Transportation does,” Fortunato added. “This simple proposal gets these agencies to communicate with each other and use their resources to keep our highways beautiful.”

The legislation was approved unanimously and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.