July 14, 2017
It is crucial to have the Hirst Fix bill passed in the House as it has been four times in the Senate. We have faced a regular session and now three special sessions while the Senate has attempted to get this bill into law, while the House of Representatives is bent on representing the whims of Ecology, Governor Inslee, Speaker Chopp, and the environmental cartel.
This is big news across the state and there are weekly articles written on this important legislation that will return our water law to the traditional legal methods relied on for many years. The State Supreme Court simply got it wrong, as has been stated by the dissenting opinion of Justice Stephens in Whatcom County, Hirst (Eric), et al. v. W. Wash. Growth Mgmt. Hr'gs Bd., 91475-3 , "The majority's holding pushes a massive, and likely insurmountable, burden onto individuals applying for a building permit. This was not the legislature's intent when it enacted RCW 19.27.097" That 21 page opinion can be read here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/914753.pdf This is a good read as it represents what is in short supply - an in depth, clear, reasonable look at law.
There are those in the Legislature we can thank for taking this judicial error seriously and standing their ground for corrective legislation. The Senate has led by example defining for the House what needs to be done. Senator Mike Padden has summed the situation correctly when he states
"The Supreme Court’s Hirst decision threatens ruin for thousands of families that will not be able to obtain the water they need to develop their land. This is an enormous issue for rural Washington, as well as in suburban areas where connections to city water cannot be made. The court’s decision overturned decades of water law that permitted small household wells with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape. Now property owners must prove their wells won’t harm fish runs, on a case-by-case basis. Hydrological studies are costly, and counties say they lack the ability to evaluate them. Some planning departments have given up, and development in some areas is at a standstill. The problem is that environmental groups and other interests are urging urban legislators to leave the ruling intact – so that higher costs and bureaucratic requirements can be used to discourage development outside of cities. No water means no development." http://mikepadden.src.wastateleg.org/fight-finish-water-rights-corrections-reform/
The Washington State Senate is correct in delaying the Capital budget until the House can step up to doing their job. As the recent newsletter from Senator Mike Padden states, Hirst Comes First. The devastation caused by an over-reaching and incorrect ruling by a majority of the Supreme Court must be corrected by the legislature. The life's work and future of rural Washington must come first!
Your legislators must hear from you again to make sure they know the importance of Hirst Comes First! You can find your legislator's phone number here for the House: http://leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/default.aspx and here for the Senate: http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Pages/default.aspx