Rep. MacEwen bill to save Christmas gets a hearing

A bill sponsored by, Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, could save Christmas next year. House Bill 1209, which had a hearing on Jan. 31, extends a program that licenses state tree growers and protects their harvest.

“If we were to incur an infestation it would pretty much shut down Christmas tree sales for the country. So really, my bill could save Christmas,” MacEwen joked. “All kidding aside, if our state Christmas tree crop did become infested, without this program the United States Department of Agriculture could quarantine the entire state. Since seventy-five percent of our trees are exported, there could be a lot of unhappy people in December.”

MacEwen’s bill would extend the program, which is currently in place until 2014 through 2020. Supporting the forestry industry is crucial to MacEwen. The Christmas tree legislation is one of two bills he is sponsored to aid the forestry industry. House Bill 1243 would allow more flexibility in the purchase of timber.

“In Mason County alone, 3,897 people are employed by the forestry industry. Statewide the impact of this industry is huge – it provides more than 118,000 jobs and $5.3 billion in wages. We need the forestry industry to thrive because it is a cornerstone of our state economy,” MacEwen said.