Washington residents would be asked to pay an additional $5 surcharge on home and auto insurance policies to combat the growing threat of wildfires, under a proposed bill by Hilary Franz.Legislation & Regulation
The bill, which is anticipated to raise $63 million annually, is intended to provide the Department of Natural Resources with guaranteed funding to hire more firefighters, update dated technology used in battling large blazes and provide rural, at-risk communities with assistance to prevent spreading fires, Franz said in an interview last week.
“Every year, we go in and we beg for dollars for wildfire suppression and forest health,” Franz said. “We cannot set this state up to be successful until we truly start investing in the problem.”
The proposed legislation, which has attracted Democratic sponsors in both the state House of Representatives and Senate, would take effect in 2021.
Insurance companies would be required to charge the additional $5 to ratepayers, with the money being deposited into a dedicated account that legislators would then be able to spend on firefighter salaries, equipment and projects to reduce diseased and insect-infested timber on state land and supporting those efforts on private property.