By Diana Carlen
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.