Legislature passes Hirst fix and capital budget, completing major unfinished business from 2017

Finally. The Associated Press reports,

The state Legislature approved more than $4 billion in construction projects across the state after reaching a deal on a contentious water issue that had stalled the capital budget for months.

The Senate and the House passed legislation Thursday night aimed at addressing issues in the state Supreme Court decision known as Hirst involving the use of domestic wells in rural areas.

Lawmakers also approved a $4.2 billion construction spending plan that includes money for major projects across the state, including affordable housing, K-12 school buildings, mental health beds and public work projects.

Here’s SB 6091, the Hirst fix. And here’s SB 6090, the capital budget. The capital budget had not been controversial, but became linked last session with the need to resolve the water rights problems stemming from the state Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling. 

As the AP notes, SB 6091 is a compromise measure.

Senate 6091, which passed 35-14 in Senate and 66-30 in the House, would allow landowners in rural areas to tap household wells — know as permit-exempt wells — while local committees work to develop plans for future water use. Those plans must outline how to offset potential impacts to rivers and streams from those wells.

The plan includes $300 million over the next 15 years for projects that improve stream flows and restore watersheds.

The bill’s sponsor sums up reactions to the compromise in this Spokesman-Review story

A bipartisan coalition in the Senate passed the water bill Thursday evening on a 35-14 vote. Its sponsor, Sen. Keven Van De Wege, D-Sequim, described the bill as “by no means perfect – everybody is unhappy with it fairly equally.”.

The News Tribune reports, 

“This bill provides a path forward for the people who just want to build a home on their few acres,” said state Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, in a speech on the Senate floor. Warnick has been a top GOP negotiator on Hirst..

A good outcome.