Legislative update: Legislature adjourned, but no water fix, no capital budget

By Diana Carlen
WAWG Lobbyist

Friday, July 21, the state Legislature adjourned on the final day of the third special session without passing a capital budget or a fix to a Supreme Court decision addressing water rights known as the Hirst decision.

Lawmakers were in session for 193 days this year on what was scheduled to be a 105-day session. While legislators were able to come to an agreement on the operating budget addressing historical levels for education funding by the July 1st deadline and avoid a partial state government shutdown, they could not reach an agreement on how to address a Supreme Court water decision which has effectively limited the use of new domestic wells in rural areas. Senate Republicans had insisted in passing a legislative fix to the Hirst decision before passing a capital budget. In the waning days of the third special session, there had been an agreement reached on a compromise capital budget that would have spent $4 billion on projects across the state (including funding for Washington State University’s plant sciences building and the animal health building), but were at a stalemate on how to provide relief to rural property owners who had been impacted by the Hirst decision.

In a press conference post-adjournment, Governor Inslee stated he would be open to calling legislators back for a one day session in the coming weeks if a deal is reached. It is unclear when this may occur. It is rumored that negotiations may resume as early as this week. There will be a lot of pressure to find a solution so that the capital budget can be adopted.

We will keep you posted as things develop. As for now, we are officially in the interim.