OLYMPIA — Several bills sponsored by local legislators were signed by the governor this week as the legislature wraps up the regular session which could be completed as soon as this Friday.
Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, sponsored 31 bills over the course of the session, four of which passed the legislature and one has been signed by the governor so far. SB 5261, a bill to allow irrigation districts to contract with companies and operate and build power generating facilities and buy and sell power, was sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, in the House.
Warnick said her and Dent introduced identical bills in case one version died in either chamber, and they were both voted out of their house of origin with no amendments. Warnick’s was delivered first and was signed by the governor, but she said half of the work to move the bill through the process was done by Dent.
Dent introduced 16 bills and two resolutions during the session, seven of which passed both chambers. So far, the governor has only signed his bills that relate to aviation.
One bill would create a special license plate which would support aviation infrastructure in Washington and the other would increase the maximum amount of grant the Department of Transportation can offer from $250,000 to $750,000.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, sponsored 31 bills over the course of the session, two of which await the governor’s signature.
HB 1449, designed for an issue specific to Grant County, would allow community events that use inflatable equipment, such as water slides and wet bouncy houses, not to undergo the same permitting process which swimming pools and hot tubs go through.
HB 1755 would require the Department of Labor and Industries to notify State Fund employers of the status of negotiations and settlements between injured workers and the department.
Manweller said many of the bills and issues he was focused on this session are dead or are a part of the operating budget, which will likely be completed in a special session.
Warnick said her main priority, SB 5239, a bill aimed to solve the controversial State Supreme Court decision commonly known as Hirst, stalled in a House agriculture committee along with other bills also designed to solve the issue.
The court’s ruling required counties to make independent decisions about water availability and halts their reliance on the Department of Ecology’s rules, maps and hydrological information. As a consequence, many counties have slowed down or halted development for fear of running afoul of the new interpretation of the law or lack of resources to comply.
In a press conference on Monday, Republican leadership Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said in addition to the operating budget, Hirst would be an item on the agenda for the special session.
“I still think my bill is pretty good,” Warnick said. “But I’m open to ideas … I’m very hopeful we’ll get something sooner rather than later. People need to be able to move on.”
Warnick said she anticipates she may have to stay in Olympia for a significant portion of the special session to finish her work on the capital budget, which can not be completed until budget negotiators agree on a revenue source for the operating budget.
“I’ve been around this process long enough that I know what’s coming ahead,” Warnick said. “I’m planning on staying here as much as I’m needed.”