Warnick’s Hirst fix sent to House for third go-round

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Warnick

OLYMPIA — Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, is hoping the third time's a charm for her Hirst-fix legislation to pass through the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 5239 received broad bipartisan support in the Senate each time it has come up for a vote. The bill passed in a 28-21 vote in the regular session and a 28-18 vote in the first special session. The legislation failed to pass through the Democrat-controlled House each time, which is why it was brought forward again in the second special session. The bill again received support on both sides of the aisle in the Senate during the second special session, easily passing in a 28-20 vote on Tuesday.

The bill is designed to address a State Supreme Court decision that changed how the Department of Ecology (DOE) and county governments operate when issuing and enforcing building permits and instream flow rules.

“During the two special sessions, my legislation has been the only solution on the table,” Warnick said. “I have made a concerted effort to hear stakeholders out and understand their concerns, but I have been clear that we need a solution to this problem this year. Families cannot wait.”

In previous interviews with the Columbia Basin Herald, Warnick explained the goal of the bill is to restore water policy surrounding wells to their previous standard. The bill would make the DOE the authority on water resource rules and allow local governments to rely on their own rules when drafting city plans.

“I am hopeful that my counterparts in the House will take our conversations seriously and provide useful input to find a fix,” Warnick stated. “This is the third time we have passed this legislation because it is a priority. From my talks, I feel that the House will come up with a reasonable and workable approach based on my bill.”

State lawmakers are currently in talks to reach an agreement on a new two-year operating budget before the second overtime session ends on Wednesday.

Richard Byrd can be reached via email at city@columbiabasinherald.com.

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