Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since my last update on Jan. 16, the Legislature was able to pass and send a Hirst water rights bill (Senate Bill 6091) and the 2017-19 capital budget to the governor's desk to be signed into law.
While the Hirst bill is not perfect, it was the best deal we were going to get after more than a year of negotiations. Not only does it provide certainty to rural landowners, but all existing wells that were drilled prior to Jan. 18 — when SB 6091 was signed into law — are grandfathered in. For landowners drilling new wells, the existing $200 fee that's charged at the time of drilling will remain. A new $500 fee will also be assessed when an building permit application is submitted, of which $350 will go to the state, and $150 will go to the local permitting authority (city/county).
Under this bill, there are some watersheds that will have slightly tighter restrictions on water withdrawal than others, such as the Kennedy-Goldsborough watershed in southeast Mason County. In these watersheds, the county has a stormwater management process, and landowners who have built new wells are limited to a withdrawal of 950 gallons per day.
Finally, no wells are subject to metering under this bill except for two ongoing pilot cases in the Kittitas and Dungeness watersheds. Ultimately, I believe we reached a good compromise.
Reaching a compromise on Hirst also allowed us to pass the 2017-19 capital budget. The $4.17 billion budget, which is financed in large part by bonds, will pay for durable assets like buildings, land acquisitions and improvements to public parks in communities across the state.
Locally, we were able to secure nearly $37 million in funding for projects in the 35th, including: $3 million to build tiny homes for homeless veterans in Mason County, $1.5 million for sewer repairs in Shelton, $515,000 to provide a wastewater connection from the South Kitsap Industrial Area to the Belfair Wastewater Reclamation Facility, and $200,000 for improvements to Camp Schechter in Tumwater. The bill also allocates $475,000 to construct a new building for the Holly Ridge Center in Bremerton, which has served residents of the 35th District for more than 50 years. Additionally, $27,000 will be spent on shelter resident room improvements, technological replacements and security upgrades at the Turning Pointe domestic violence shelter in Shelton.
Each of these investments will make a significant difference for our communities in the coming years.
Below is a brief summary of several bills I've introduced this session, along with their current status.
House Bill 1058 is a bill that's critical for domestic violence survivors. It was approved in both the House and Senate during the regular session last year, and then approved again in the House during our first special session. However, it did not make it to the Senate floor a second time. This bill would ensure incarcerated criminal offenders pay court-ordered restitution to their victims in a timely manner. It's vital that restitution be prioritized and not placed behind any other financial obligations an offender may have. House Bill 1058 passed the House unanimously again last week, and is now in the Senate.
House Bill 2260 would ban Atlantic salmon farming in marine waters regulated by Washington state. HB 2260 has received a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, along with other bills dealing with this issue. Negotiations are ongoing to reach a compromise solution.
House Bill 2261 was brought to me by former 35th District Rep. Kathy Haigh. It would allow counties to support the board of commissioners of a housing authority, financially or otherwise. The bill was approved in the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee, moved through the Rules Committee, and may now potentially be brought to the House floor for a vote.
House Bill 2270 would change the state's fiscal year to coincide with the end of regular session in order to prevent us from going into special session every year. I'm disappointed the majority party won't give this bill a hearing, because we badly need budget process reform.
Policy cutoff is coming up on Feb. 2, which is the deadline for bills without a fiscal impact (cost to the budget) to pass out of policy committees. Fiscal committee cutoff is on Feb. 6, when bills with a fiscal impact must pass out of appropriations committees.
On air with KMAS's Jeff Slakey
Every Wednesday morning at 8:15 a.m., I will be live on air with KMAS Radio's Jeff Slakey to discuss the latest news from Olympia. To listen to these interviews, as well as my other audio, I invite you to visit my SoundCloud page. Here is my latest appearance from Jan. 24:
In the interest of full transparency, I will be providing weekly PDFs of who I'm meeting with this session.
Here are some of the ways you can continue to stay connected this session:
Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions, comments or concerns. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (360) 786-7902. I look forward to hearing from you!
It is an honor to serve you in the state House.