Emotions ran high on the last day of the third Special Legislative Session, ending what is the longest Legislative Session in Washington State history.
The Legislative Session stalled at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 20, when both House Democrats and Republicans were told no action would take place and they could go home. Concurrent with the dismissal of House members, the Governor called a press conference stating his disappointment that an agreement could not be reached, but that he would call them back sometime later this year if an agreement materializes.
There were some premature announcements earlier in the week that an agreement would be reached, however they proved to be false and it was clear that the Republicans felt so strongly about a comprehensive fix about the Hirst water decision that they were willing to block any action on the capital budget and the bonds necessary to implement that capital budget.
The 2016 Hirst ruling affects the way people in rural areas develop property by requiring counties to uphold highly regulated water rights. The issue has been much debated throughout the entire 2017 session and proved to be the hang up in the final hours. Failure to reach an agreement on this issue caused a unprecedented failure by the legislature to adopt a capital budget, which would have authorized approximately $4 billion in construction spending across the state.
The House and Senate leaders are expected to continue negotiating a resolution to the Hirst water issue, but there is no telling whether a resolution can be reached in the coming weeks or perhaps coming months. This will clearly be an issue that is raised in the upcoming November elections where several House and Senate seats are up for grabs.
CleanTech Alliance urges Washington State residents to identify and contact your elected representatives, asking them to push for a resolution that would allow a capital budget to be passed. The language should be simple and succinct. Customizable sample language could include:
Subject: Please Push for a Capital Budget Agreement
As a voter in your district, I'm writing today to respectfully request that you actively push for a Hirst resolution that allows for a capital budget to be passed. I recognize that the issue at hand is complex and difficult. We cannot, however, jeopardize our state’s forward progress or the thousands of jobs at risk due to stalled capital budget funding.
At this point, the Washington State Legislature has adjourned for the year and, unless a resolution is reached, it will not reconvene until January 2018. Please urge your elected officials for action.