End of Session Update
July 25, 2017
We have been clear since the beginning of the 2017 legislative session that we need a legislative solution to the problems created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which has in effect halted rural development. It wasn’t until recently that House Democrats and the governor even acknowledged that denying citizens access to water is a problem.
You may have heard that the Senate was holding the state’s construction budget “hostage,” but that’s a matter of perspective. In fact, the Senate unanimously passed a capital budget in March of this year and a bipartisan fix for rural household wells. We all agree that the investments from the capital budget are important, but water is a human right. By taking the position that state government’s construction projects shouldn’t be prioritized ahead of family-home construction in areas not served by community water systems, we finally got the attention of urban legislators who have been apathetic about the needs of rural Washingtonians.
The Senate approved a solution (Senate Bill 5239, to ensure that water is available to support development) four times, with solid bipartisan votes, but the House majority has been unable or unwilling to approve that bill or come up with a solution of their own. Our bill would give the authority back to the state Department of Ecology to make determinations of water availability instead of requiring counties and individual property owners to so. Counties do not have the resources or expertise to duplicate what Ecology has been doing for decades.
You can read more about the Hirst situation by clicking here.
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407 Legislative Building
P.O. Box 40410, Olympia, WA 98504