(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
$6.6 billion increase may cause taxes to go up 15 percent…
As the Washington State Legislature adjourned their third special session July 20, ending a record breaking 193 days by passing a $43.7 billion operating budget, there was still no fix for the Hirst court decision that come lawmakers say could limit property development in the state. A decision by the Washington State Supreme Court in the Hirst case last year that said new domestic water wells can be denied if counties can’t prove there is water available for the new development. The ruling applied specifically to Whatcom County, but other counties in the state have implemented rules limiting the development with the expectation the precedent-setting case can be applied to them as well.
The passage of a state operating budget, but not a capital budget, means some infrastructure projects will be on hold. The lack of a capital budget was the result of a stand-off between legislators opposed to the Hirst decision who wanted a fix and those who did not.
Seventh District Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber said despite multiple efforts, a fix for Hirst could not be agreed upon between the political parties.
“Coming up with a solution to the state supreme court’s Hirst decision was an absolute priority coming into this session as environmentalists, anti-growth organizations and other urban special interest groups waged an all-out war against our rural landowners,” Maycumber said. “The Senate passed a complete Hirst fix (Senate Bill 5239) four times while House Democrats have refused to move one piece of Hirst legislation. In fact, on June 30, an agreed-upon, bipartisan amendment was introduced in the House but Democrat leadership refused to allow it to come up for a vote.”