Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake), sponsor and lead negotiator on the Senate bill overturning the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision and restoring the right of rural property owners to drill household wells, offered the following statement last week regarding House leaders’ refusal to act on the issue during the 2017 legislative session:
“While I am disappointed that the House leadership chose to leave families without a solution to their water needs, I am committed to continuing the dialogue to find a permanent solution for water availability.
“Access to water is a basic human right, and finding a solution to Hirst that allows families to build on their property with a reliable source of water is not only a necessity—it is a moral obligation for elected officials in this state.
“For weeks, I have been meeting with House Democrats to address their concerns. Our Senate Majority Coalition has put forth compromise solutions over the past several months that respect senior water rights, acknowledge the role tribes play in natural resource management and provide a realistic permanent fix.
“The House offered a proposal to temporarily delay implementation of the Hirst decision, but not only is this legally questionable, it fails to address the real issue—no bank will be willing to lend money on property where no guaranteed source of water is available.
“It is now up to Gov. Jay Inslee and House Democrats to show some leadership, begin negotiating in good faith and vote for a solution. The Senate unanimously approved a capital budget in March and sent a Hirst fix to the House four times. So far, House Democrats have refused to approve our bill or advance any legislation of their own. They have also failed to negotiate in good faith, moving the goal posts at every opportunity. To say the least, negotiations have been challenging, if not frustrating. However, I remain optimistic and ready to work toward a solution.”