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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have completed week two of the 2018 legislative session. After work remained unfinished last session on a comprehensive, long-term Hirst solution, and the 2017-19 capital budget, we can finally check ‘complete unfinished business’ off our session to-do list.

On Friday, Gov. Inslee signed into law the long-awaited bipartisan capital budget, and a bipartisan solution to Hirst.

Hirst |Update

As many of you know, the Hirst decision has prevented people across our state from drilling wells on their private property, which has jeopardized property values and dreams, and created a financial uncertainty for families. Senate Bill 6091, the bipartisan Hirst solution, does the following:

  • It ‘grandfathers’ exiting wells as a legally adequate water supply to obtain a building permit throughout the state.
  • It allows the counties to rely on the Department of Ecology to manage the water without the county doing an independent analysis of water availability before issuing building permits.
  • It implements two new planning processes in certain areas of the state that did not exist before, and includes restrictions on water usage for domestic purposes.
  • It requires $300 million over 15 years in bonds for projects in those restricted areas to address stream flow issues.

As with most things, there are good ideas but also concerns with this solution. The concerns on the effect this proposal will have on our district is why I had to vote against it.

  • It puts limits on the amount of water usage for new rural houses in specific areas. The limit is 3,000 or 950, depending on the watershed instead of 5,000 authorized under RCW 90.4R.050.
  • It imposes new fees of $500 at the time of building, on top of the existing $200 to get a well.
  • It treats rural property owners differently than urban property owners by driving up the cost of housing.
  • It requires storm water management on some new homes that have exempt wells. Most homes depending on exempt wells are rural – where storm water management isn’t an issue. The fields, forests and farmland in our district don’t equate to the concrete, asphalt and steel found in urban areas.
  • The projects are debt financed at a time we should be reducing debt.

Where there are portions of this solution that don’t benefit our district, many other districts around the state will find much needed relief.

Capital budget | Update

The long-awaited bipartisan 2017-19 capital budget allocates $4.17 billion in total spending, and $2.72 billion in bonds. The approved budget also leaves $211 million for supplemental capital budget planning in 2018. K-12 educational facilities and mental health care are key priorities in this budget including:

  • This budget makes solid investments in K-12 educational facilities. The School Construction Assistance Program ($933 million) funds will help address a number of local school bond levy needs. An additional $35 million is set aside for small, rural district modernization grants.
  • This budget allocates $136.5 million for community-based and institution funding for construction projects in behavioral and mental health.

The capital budget funds public works projects across our state. The main projects approved in the 2017-19 budget for the 31st District include:

  • $13.325 million to replace the leaking sewer system (Carbonado)
  • $7.75 million for surface water management and flood control (along the White, Carbon and Puyallup Rivers)
  • $2.8 million for the Foothills Trail and bridge development (Buckley/Enumclaw)
  • $1.5 million for the wastewater collection and water distribution replacement (Carbonado)
  • $620,000 for school improvements and upgrades (Rainer State School)
  • $500,000 for phase I of community park construction (Edgewood)
  • $103,000 for a new barn for the Daffodil Festival (Sumner)
  • 43,000 for Roosevelt Park (Wilkeson)

Please feel free to contact my office with any questions, issues or concerns. I am your voice in Olympia and I want to hear from you.

It’s an honor to serve you.


Morgan Irwin

State Representative Morgan Irwin, 31st Legislative District
430 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7866 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000