Alternative Hirst Fix Bill Falls Short of a Solution
House Democrat Leadership has produced an alternative Hirst Fix Bill, HB 2239, http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2239.pdf This bill could only be considered a compromise by those not able and willing to do so.
This is a kick the can down the road bill which would minimally allow for exempt wells from the passage of this bill until the end of December 2018. The legislature would hear from a joint legislative task force comprised of those who initially caused the debacle of the Hirst Decison and charged with "the treatment" of exempt water withdrawals. This task force would provide a report to the legislature 30 days prior to the expiration of this "Hirst fix" bill. Considering the tension, confusion, and reaction to Hirst from local governments it is doubtful a reasoned, rational, and timely response to HB 2239 by local governments could be accomplished rendering this version of a fix useles due to the temporary nature of the provisions in this bill. This bill will create unanswered questions and concerns about future lawmaking and fear of lititgation by the environmental cartel which will complicate local governmental response to temporarily allowing for building permits on properties with exempt wells.
Essentially, this bill negates or limits the well thought out provisions provided by SSB 5239. The better solution is SSB 5239 because it is a more complete and permanent solution and so allows for stabililty in planning for water management into the future. CAPR recommends HB 2239 be rejected by the majority of the house of representatives and by the Senate.