Nonprofit gun clubs around the state dodged a financial bullet and a key stretch of wildlife habitat in Kittitas County will remain accessible to recreationists as the result of two actions taken by state legislators over the busy weekend in Olympia.
On Friday, in its second special session, the Legislature passed a substitute version of Senate Bill 5882, giving what one gun-club representative called “a reprieve” from what many industry leaders considered double-taxation.
The bill essentially reversed the Washington Departmenet of Revenue’s decision to tax gun clubs their wholesale purchase of clay targets — on which they had not previously been taxed — in addition to their long-accepted liability for sales and use tax upon the sale of those targets to shooters.
Then on Saturday, the $3.6 billion capitol budget approved by lawmakers included $65 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). That insured funding for two Yakima- and Kittitas-area projects that would have fallen by the wayside under earlier versions of the state budget.
One of those was the final piece of the three-part “Heart of the Cascades,” a land-acquisition project in which the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would take ownership of 8 1/2 square miles of Taneum-area forest.
The land is currently for sale by Plum Creek and might otherwise have been sold to private developers. Its purchase would remove yet another vestige of the old “checkerboard ownership” pattern so prevalent in the state’s rural areas.
The gun-club tax and the WWRP’s concerns over the possible loss of “Heart of the Cascades” funding had been detailed previously in the Herald-Republic.