News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced critical federal funding for Northwest Washington and Bellingham priorities in the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill. 

Due to the threat of Presidential vetoes of America’s domestic spending priorities, Congress combined several appropriations bills into one large “Omnibus bill,” which should pass both houses this week.  The Omnibus package contains critical funding for national needs like transportation, homeland security, education, labor and health.

"This federal support is the seed money that helps our communities grow," said Senator Murray. "I am proud to have helped steer this funding to community-supported projects here at home.  I work everyday to ensure that even though our state's residents are 2,500 miles from D.C., their needs are up-front and center. At a time when domestic and local needs are too often being neglected, these worthy projects are getting the support they deserve."

This spending bill is expected to be cleared by the U.S. House of Representatives tonight and sent to the Senate tomorrow.

Below are the projects included for Northwest Washington. They are separated by project type:

Transportation Projects

Bellingham Marine Trades Center -- $245,000
These funds will aid the community's efforts to transform a 5 acre tissue warehouse on the Bellingham waterfront into a center that will support the marine trades. The Center will support many existing small businesses that are water-dependent as well as provide job and businesses growth for the community.  There are more than 100 firms in the marine trade and fisheries in Whatcom County and boat building and repair is identified as a Washington state priority for job creation and workforce training assistance.

Fidalgo Bay Road Improvement Project, Samish Tribe, Anacortes -- $490,000
This road is a major part of the Samish Tribe’s economic vitality and in need of substantial repairs in order to assure the safety of passengers and vehicles that travel on it.  Fidalgo Bay Road connects the State Route 20 Spur to the industrial park for the City of Anacortes, and is currently the site of many accidents and traffic-related injuries.

Commerce and Justice Projects

Northern Border Prosecutor Initiative – $2,800,000
The Northern Border Prosecutor Initiative builds off of Sen. Murray’s support of Whatcom County’s “Fast Track” system to create a new program to reimburse northern border communities for some of their law enforcement expenses.  The NBPI mirrors a program that has been in existence for the Southwest Border and provides funds through a formula grant. 

Northwest Straits Initiative – $1,562,750
The Northwest Straits Initiative is a grass-roots effort to help protect and restore the marine waters, habitats and species of the Northwest Straits region.  The funding will support local project priorities in Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.  Senator Murray helped found the Initiative, bringing opposing stakeholders together in 1997, to create an advisory commission that would address local issues.

Northern Border Rapid Prosecution Initiative – $679,150
This funding will help support Whatcom County law enforcement’s “Fast Track” prosecution system to help the county handle cases that result from border-related crime, captured fugitives, drug trafficking, and crimes committed by persons refused entry into Canada.  The “Fast Track” prosecution system has reduced the overall time for all cases moving through the Prosecutor’s Office, and has freed up resources to deal with day-to-day local issues.

Multi-Jurisdictional Data Integration – $223,250
This helps link the Whatcom Exchange Network (WENET), which tracks criminal offenders, to Canada and other U.S. jurisdictions.  WENET increases officer and public safety in Northern Border communities by providing efficient access to real time data from 11 different jurisdictions.

Energy and Water Projects

Swinomish Channel Dredging – $467,000
This funding will be used to dredge Swinomish Channel in Northwest Washington.  The Swinomish Channel needs to be dredged to a depth of 12 feet every three to four years to prevent groundings.  It is used for commercial and recreation purposes including: boat builders, log-tow companies, fishermen, dry boat operators and boaters. 

Army Corps of Engineers Skagit General Investigation Study – $547,000
The Skagit General Investigation Study is examining the flooding problems of the Skagit River.  The Corps is looking at the best way to proceed with a flood control plan in the region.  These funds will be used to identify problems and generate potential solutions that will reduce the chance of a flood catastrophe.  The Skagit River floodplain includes the cities of Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Sedro-Woolley.  Mount Vernon and Burlington are currently protected by levees that are inadequate for the large floods, which have occurred in the past and are predicted to happen again.

Labor Projects

Building Electrician Workforce -- $143,449
The funding will go toward the Northwest Washington Electrical Industry Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) in Mount Vernon. Due to the growth in Northwest Washington and an aging electrician population, the need for new electricians is high and the JATC is struggling to expand its training capabilities rapidly enough to meet needs of the region. This funding would enable the JATC to enhance and expand its training capability by assisting it in acquiring various types of classroom and laboratory training equipment and providing additional technical training for its instructors.