Greetings Friends and Neighbors
The Legislature adjourned for the year July 20 without addressing some important issues. While our Senate Majority was ready to work on that final day of our third overtime session, the House Democrats literally left Olympia after hiding in their caucus meeting room for hours, and refusing to take their seats in the House chamber to vote on a permanent fix for the flawed Hirst decision that has halted rural development. They also failed to adopt a new, final Capital Budget for 2017-19 that invests in things like school construction, community centers and various environmental projects.
If you aren’t familiar with the Hirst issue, please take a moment and read more about the court decision by clicking here.
I have been the Senate’s lead negotiator to find a solution for the Hirst situation, which turned decades of water law on its head. The state Supreme Court’s decision has made drilling a well nearly impossible as counties who previously relied on the state for technical assistance must make determinations on their own. That is something we’ve heard they do not have the expertise or resources to do. The effect is that property owners in rural areas must pay thousands of dollars on studies and even then, there is no guarantee they will have water.
I sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 5239, that the Senate approved with bipartisan support four times. The House majority leaders never brought my bill up for a vote and never brought up their own proposals for a vote. That is no way to govern. Sometimes you have to take votes that are hard, but that demonstrates where you stand. We cannot negotiate against ourselves and the citizens of our state deserve to know where their elected representatives stand on critical issues like access to water.
Even though the Legislature is not in session, I continue to reach out to my colleagues across the aisle to find a real solution on Hirst for rural Washington. You may have heard that the House Democrats offered a temporary fix for families in need of water, but in my opinion, that is not a workable. Banks will not lend on land that has no guarantee of legal water. I believe that the Legislature would have been setting families up to fail with that approach. What should have been a small technical fix has been politicized and special interests are attempting to tell folks in rural Washington how they must live. That is not something I can support.
Please click here to read my recent press release.
It is an honor to serve as your state Senator. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your state government.
You State Senator
103 Irv Newhouse Bldg.
P.O. Box 40410
Olympia, WA 98504