Fair Economy: Rep. Blake Wants Local Communities to Benefit from Concerted Efforts
THE CHRONICLE – OLYMPIA – A pair of bills currently making their way through the state House of Representatives are intended to provide additional means for the show to go on at county fairs, and extra incentive for fairgoers to try to win that Teddy bear.
The Bills, House Bill 2725 and House Bill 2765 were introduced by Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, in an effort to establish fairs as “economic drivers” in their communities while also ensuring funding for future operations.
HB 2725 seeks to update laws covering agricultural fairs, youth shows and exhibitions. That bill has already cleared the House thanks to a unanimous vote and has been introduced in the Senate.
“These laws haven’t been updated in decades; it’s time for an overhaul that aligns them with current practices,” said Blake, in a press release.
In addition to adding an economic incentive to the operation of fairs, HB 2725 also seeks to make Fair Funds available to fair managers in order to cover operating expenses.
“Funding from the Fair Fund makes a big difference in the ability of local fairs to operate,” Blake said in the release. He noted that there are fairs in each of the five counties in the 19th district that he represents: Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Wahkiakum and Cowlitz. “So fairs are a big deal in our area. Small businesses showcase their wares, local artists offer their works, entertainers perform, and kids learn new skills while having fun, all of these things create jobs, help grow the economy and strengthen communities.”
Where HB 2725 opens up the Fair Fund for additional uses, HB 2765 strives to make sure that the fund will continue to exist in the future by allowing the cache to grow for the first time in more than two decades.
Currently, the Fair Fund is stocked through a transfer from the general fund. While the Blake bills do not create a new tax for the Fair Fund, HB 2765 does divert some sales tax revenue generated from commerce at fairgrounds sites. By linking funding to sales the fairs will be able to help grease their own wheels through increased quality of offerings.
HB 2765 has yet to move in the House after being introduced. However, a twin bill known as Senate Bill 6386 continues to move along in the Senate after passing out of both the policy and fiscal committees.
Additional information on HB 2725 can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/y7dxzqtq. A similar roundup of HB 2765 can be read online at https://tinyurl.com/yd7jluq3, and SB 6386 is available for review at https://tinyurl.com/y93qjveh.
Rep. Blake can be reached by email online at https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/memberEmail/19/2, or he can be contacted by phone at 360-786-7870.
Posted By: The Chronicle
Feb 14, 2018
Photo: Jared Wenzelburger / For The Chronicle