Bill to reverse Hirst Decision passes out of Senate, again

For the third time, legislation that would reverse the Hirst Decision has passed out of the Senate.

Senate Bill 5239 seeks to reverse the Hirst Decision, which some Republicans legislators claim has unfairly hurt their constituents by potentially raising their cost of living while lowering property values.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that counties would now be responsible to determine if there is enough water to drill wells, instead of the Department of Ecology. Homeowners could have to fund their own hydrogeological analysis, mitigate their well impact on streams, or use other sources of water.

Environmental and conservation activists considered the court ruling a victory.

The bill would nullify the court’s decision by revising existing law.

The Senate passed the bill on February 28, but did not pass the House before the regular session ended. The Senate passed the bill again on May 2, and now on June 13 in the special sessions. For all three votes, the bill passed with the same 28 yes votes.

The bill will likely return to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, where no action was taken. The committee sent the bill back to the Senate Rules Committee for a third reading during the regular and first special session.

Even if the bill does not pass out of the Democrat controlled House this year, the Hirst Decision will likely come up in next year’s legislative session.

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