After several days and nights of hours-long talks, Senate and House negotiators reached a compromise this week on legislation to fix the situation caused by the Supreme Court’s Hirst ruling, and again offer rural landowners a way for to drill small household wells.
The Senate voted 35-14 Thursday night to pass Senate Bill 6091.
Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, voted in favor of the new Hirst-fix legislation, saying it will help rural landowners in the 26th Legislative District and other areas of Washington.
“This compromise bill will help rural landowners who have been kept from drilling wells on their property ever since the Hirst decision came down in October 2016,” Angel said. “The court’s decision not only limited landowners’ ability to develop their land, it also caused land values to plummet and cost the state billions of dollars in economic growth in rural areas. It also made it hard for banking institutions to approve homebuilding loans because there wasn’t a long-term solution in place. This was a serious problem that put many families throughout our state in a real bind, so I’m glad a compromise was reached and then passed tonight.”
Angel, a former Kitsap County commissioner, said she talked with several Kitsap County officials about the bill this week to see how it affects the county. “I received helpful and positive feedback and comments from different county officials about this bill.”
The 26th District senator said the bill also will help the city of Port Orchard with a Hirst-related water problem.
“Port Orchard needs new wells to replace its aging infrastructure and provide safe and adequate drinking water to the public, but because of the Hirst decision, they were absolutely stuck and unable to do this,” said Angel, who explained that Port Orchard is one of several Washington cities affected by another Supreme Court decision, issued in 2015, that discourages the cities and stakeholders from developing a mitigation plan. “The Hirst-fix legislation will now allow Port Orchard and several other cities to move forward with their water plans. This is great news for Port Orchard and its residents.”