Dems, GOP agree to new Hirst deal

Local legislators on board with compromise

— Sen. Judy Warnick believes a compromise deal reached by Senate and House negotiators last week may bring needed relief for rural families seeking to drill a small household well.

The compromise, in he form of a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Squim, and Warnick passed through the Senate, 66-30, and the House, 35-14.

“It has been an arduous and complex negotiation,” Warnick, R-Moses Lake, said. “I believe that the compromise we have reached meets the criteria that I stated at the end of last year, namely that any solution must not be a burden on rural families who simply need water to build a home.”

Warnick is the former chairwoman of the Senate’s water-related committee and lead negotiator on the bill to fix the flawed Hirst court decision,

Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, joined Warnick in the negotiation talks.

“We had many hours of meetings that went late into the night over this week,” Short said. “Our stance from the beginning was that we needed a bill that would treat our rural landowners fairly, so they can drill water wells on their land.

“Without water, landowners can’t develop their property. The compromise we reached isn’t a perfect fix to the problem, but it’s a solution that allows locally driven plans with flexibility.”  

“It has taken us this long to get here because many in Olympia didn’t take the plight of rural Washington seriously,” Warnick said. “We did what we had to do to represent our constituents and get the attention of urban lawmakers who don’t need to worry about where their water comes from.”

“This legislation responds to Hirst in a fair, measured way. My only regret is that this should have, and could have, been taken care of last session,” Van De Wege said.

“I suspect no one will be completely happy with this bill, which is probably a good indicator that this legislation does an even-handed job of balancing competing interests.

“I trust folks will recognize that we did our best to reconcile everyone’s concerns as fairly and practically as possible.”

“I’m glad that Sen. Van De Wege stepped up and supported our efforts to help rural families,” Warnick said. “This is an example of collaboration among Democrats and Republicans to work for all of Washington.”

Senate Republican leaders had insisted since early April 2017 that there would be no new capital budget without a long-term remedy for the effects of the Hirst ruling.

The approval paved the way for capital budget approval.


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