Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2018 legislative session is well underway and things are moving at a frantic pace. I want to thank those of you who have contacted my office thus far to express your thoughts and opinions on legislation and other important issues. Your feedback is vital to me as I work to serve you and be your voice in the state House. And, if you're ever able to make it to Olympia during session, please let me know so I can schedule time for you in my office.
Finding a solution for rural, permit-exempt wells (Hirst)
After many months of long negotiations, the Legislature finally agreed on a Hirst solution (SSB 6091). If you currently own land with a well and have been waiting to build, you can! Existing wells are grandfathered in. You can get a building permit right now. For upcoming wells, certain Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIA) have different usage limits, from 950 – 3,000 gallons per day. Stock watering is allowed and so is watering for wildfire buffers. There are some WRIAs that are under different regulations (like the Yakima basin) because of other litigation or agreements. But most people who understand water law and the needs of eastern Washington agree that this Hirst fix is a big win for rural areas depending on water for economic survival.
Once a Hirst agreement was reached, the state capital budget was passed as well. It's important to note that without tying the two together last year (it takes a 60 percent vote to pass capital bonds to finance the capital budget), we would most likely NOT have had a Hirst fix. There was no urgency from the other side to help rural Washington with our water needs.
My bill to promote the use of expert volunteers in career and technical education (CTE) courses in grades seven and eight received a hearing in the House Education Committee last week (you can watch here). HB 2641 is the result of conversations I've had with students while serving as a substitute teacher. So often our students think a four-year college degree is the path to a successful career – and for some, that may very well be the best choice. But for others, a career in the trades and technical industries is a much more viable option. This legislation simply encourages schools to recruit experts in the career and technical trades to serve as volunteers in the classroom. It should be our goal to connect kids to careers whenever possible!
Another bill I'm sponsoring this session would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (formerly the Department of Early Learning – DEL) to provide a written explanation when a licensed child care professional is under any type of investigation. While we must be vigilant in protecting our children we must also take care to remember that someone is innocent until proven guilty. DEL has, at times, removed licensed child care professionals for long periods of time with no explanation as to any accusations made against them, only to find the complaints unfounded and the person innocent of any charges. This not only brings heartache and frustration to the worker, but can also be devastating financially as they can no longer continue with their livelihood. My proposal, HB 2642, received a public hearing in the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee (you can view here) and is now in the House Rules Committee.
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter. Please stay in touch throughout the legislative session. And thank you for the honor of serving you in Olympia.