This week’s end of the third special session set a record for the number of days in a single year for the Washington State Legislature
NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor reports from Olympia on the small-business agenda as of July 20.
The third special session of the 2017 Washington State Legislature limped to a close Thursday evening, July 20, on the 30th and final day of this latest overtime run. This set a record of 195 days of session in a single year, although few days of the second and third special sessions were actually spent in committee hearings or floor debates.
Ultimately, lawmakers could not agree on a so-called “Hirst fix” to resolve an adverse state Supreme Court decision limiting the drilling and use of exempt water wells. Consequently, the state Senate Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) refused to approve a capital budget to fund public constructions projects for the next two years.
The House Democrat majority offered a two-year delay in implementing the Hirst decision, but would not agree on a permanent solution. Moreover, they insisted on processes allowing tribes, environmental groups, and others to contest future well permits. This was a non-starter for the MCC. Unfortunately, property owners relying on wells for future household and stock-watering uses are now left with no solution, short-term or long-term.
In a media availability following the legislature’s adjournment, Gov. Jay Inslee suggested negotiations should continue outside of session until an agreement is reached. He offered to convene a fourth special session once a deal is struck.
NFIB/Washington supports a “Hirst fix” that reaffirms landowners’ rights to drill and use exempt wells consistent with western water law and historic practices. While we are sympathetic to state agencies and local governments that sought to have various and sundry public works projects funded, NFIB/Washington does not typically engage on the capital budget, since it does not have direct, statewide policy impact on small business.
With the latest special session now ended, attention turns to the special election for several legislative seats – including the 45th district senate contest, which will determine control of that chamber. Primary election ballots have already been mailed. The NFIB Washington PAC will meet after the primary to consider candidate endorsements.
It should also be noted that the 2018 legislative session is only five months away.
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[Tile photo courtesy of Legislative Support Services]