A permanent Hirst solution

2018 legislative session • January 19, 2018 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

I have good news to share. State lawmakers worked late on Thursday night to pass a permanent Hirst solution and the capital budget. These important issues were holdovers from last session. With the passage of this legislation, we provided people, projects and communities across our state assurances as they look to the future.      

A permanent Hirst solution 

As you know, water law is complicated. It got even more complicated when a state Supreme Court decision in October 2016 prevented many rural property owners from accessing water from exempt wells. This is known as the Hirst decision, and you can imagine how much uncertainty it caused families, communities and local governments.

The Hirst solution is about protecting property rights. It removes the obstacle created by the court and provides permanent, legal, reliable water to impacted property owners. People can now utilize their land and pursue their dreams. 

Is this bill perfect? No. However, it reflects a bipartisan compromise and balances the interests of urban and rural stakeholders. It's what Washingtonians should expect from a closely divided Legislature. 

While many deserve credit, I want to single out two members of my caucus who played leading roles on this issue: Reps. David Taylor and Vincent Buys. They never gave up and never stopped negotiating in good faith. You can find the news release they sent out yesterday here.    

Capital budget

We are also happy that the capital budget passed. Often called the state construction budget, it funds critical projects and programs statewide. In fact, every county will benefit from this budget. This map provides information on the projects. You can also learn more below. 

Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins

I sat down with Austin Jenkins of Inside Olympia for an interview on Thursday. We discussed several topics, including Hirst, education funding, the governor's energy tax, and the rural/urban divide. You can watch the piece on TVW here.

Leadership Podcast

We are trying something new this year: A Leadership Podcast. It includes conversations with my Leadership team and provides listeners an inside look at our Legislature. I participated in the first edition. If you are able to listen, please let me know what you think.

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7967

Rep. Joyce McDonald

Rep. Joyce McDonald elected assistant floor leader 

Rep. Joyce McDonald of Puyallup was elected by her House Republican colleagues to be assistant floor leader. This leadership position includes assisting the floor leader in the organization of activities on the floor of the House.

In a news release, House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen said, "Having Joyce’s extensive experience in both legislative and local government matters is going to be very valuable to our leadership team as we navigate complex policy and budget issues this year. We are looking forward to the work ahead."

In late September, Rep. McDonald was appointed ranking Republican of the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee. She will continue in this role. Learn more about Rep. McDonald here.

A permanent Hirst solution

The state Supreme Court's Hirst decision was flawed. It ignored previous water decisions and reinterpreted laws. Justice Debra Stephens, in her dissent, said: “The majority’s decision hinges on an interpretation of RCW 19.27.097 that is unsupported by the plain language of the statute, precedent, or common sense.”

Confronted with the reality that this decision would have devastating consequences for families and rural communities we represent, Republicans made finding a solution in the 2017 session a priority. Unfortunately, a compromise could not be reached. 

Thankfully, a small group of state lawmakers continued to meet throughout the interim to exchange ideas and vet proposals. That hard work eventually paid off in the form of Senate Bill 6091. It was signed into law by the governor today.

If you want to take a deeper dive into the Hirst issue and solution, this interview with Rep. David Taylor provides great insights. 

The capital budget

The capital budget will spend a total of $4.18 billion and includes funding for K-12 schools, colleges and universities, prisons, juvenile rehabilitation facilities, parks, housing for low-income residents and veterans, and other capital facilities and programs.

The School Construction Assistance Program will receive $933 million. More than $27 million will also be dedicated to career and technical education facilities -- including STEM grants.

Of the $4.18 billion, $2.72 billion will be paid through general obligation bonds and $1.43 billion will be financed using sources such as certificates of participation, dedicated accounts, trust revenue, and federal funds.

Senate Bill 6090 implements the capital budget, and House Bill 1080 authorizes the bonds to pay for the expenditures. Both bills were signed into law by the governor today.

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