In 2021, Fortunato passed the “”Welcome to Washington” litter act, directing the state Department of Ecology and the Department of Transportation to work together to tackle the state’s litter problem with increased cleanups and education. However, there are additional hurdles to keeping our roadways clean, so Fortunato sponsored Senate Bill 5178, which would increase penalties for large debris cleanup. The measure was approved unanimously Monday by the state Senate.
Fortunato’s proposal would increase penalties for large debris cleanup and originally redirected the surplus in the existing $1 tire tax to an account dedicated to clearing large items like tire pieces, car bumpers, couches and other large debris. The bill was amended to remove the dedicated funding source and made it subject to budget appropriations.
Jokingly, Fortunato has said, “You can furnish a house and build a car with what you find on the side of road.”
“There are too many large items on the side of our highways that could make it unsafe to pullover especially at night,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “While it appears there are still some issues getting litter picked up, at least these state agencies can pick up the big stuff and make our roads a little safer.”
As an expert on environmental issues, particularly Clean Water Act compliance, Fortunato has been pushing state agencies to clean up their act, pointing to the environmental disaster resulting from the numerous homeless encampments exacerbating the pollution problem.
“The homelessness problem and the environmental problem are connected here. The state needs to find a solution that deals with where a lot of the debris is coming from. Driving to Olympia during the session, there are large homeless camps that have no regard for our littering laws. That has to change,” added Fortunato.