Washington Farm Bureau honors local lawmaker

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OLYMPIA — Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, was named the 2017 Legislator of the Year by the Washington Farm Bureau, alongside her colleague Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, for their work supporting agriculture in the state.

Warnick and Taylor both played key roles in coming up with a “Hirst fix,” which allowed landowners to resume drilling permit-exempt wells after years of legal limbo.

“Warnick led the charge in the Senate to pass a permanent fix for the water crisis created by the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision,” said WFB President Mike LaPlant at the organization’s annual Legislative Banquet held recently. LaPlant said Taylor had also been key to the Hirst negotiations.

Finding a solution to the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision divided the Washington legislature in 2017, and had carried over into this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers in first the Senate and then in the House stood and cheered when a compromise was finally reached earlier this month.

The WFB also celebrated Warnick for sponsoring a bill that provided liability protection for agritourism businesses.

“With her leadership and ability to work with legislators from both parties, we were able to get the agritourism bill passed and signed into law by the governor,” LaPlant said.

Warnick told the Columbia Basin Herald that it was a humbling experience.

“It’s humbling because we have a number of legislators that have done good work here over the years,” Warnick said, “To be picked out of the House and the Senate, it’s quite an honor.”

Warnick said she was glad to share the honor with Taylor, citing his experience with water law. Taylor sponsored one-half of the Hirst fix that was eventually signed into law.

Warnick said she was also honored to be celebrated by friends and neighbors at the banquet.

“When friends and neighbors recognize the good we do, that means more than just about anything else,” Warnick said.

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