Legislative Update: Jan. 19, 2018

Dear Friends,

It’s great to send you my first e-newsletter of the 2018 legislative session. Today marks the end of the second week of the 60-day session.

Because it’s only 60 days instead of the 105-day sessions that the Legislature has in odd-numbered years, this is considered a “short session.” It’s pretty fast-paced right now, too, with many meetings and committee hearings on bills, along with some of what we call “floor activity,” when the full Senate debates and votes on bills.

7th District telephone town hall Tuesday night

Next Tuesday (Jan. 23) I’m joining state Reps. Joel Kretz and Jacquelin Maycumber for a 7th Legislative District telephone town hall meeting. This community conversation, which is similar to a call-in radio format, will begin at 6 p.m. and last one hour. We’ll take listeners’ questions and provide information and our perspectives on the legislative session. To participate, call 509-404-3053 beginning at 6 p.m. Once you are connected, you may listen live and press the star (*) key on your telephone keypad to ask questions. I hope you can join us by calling in! It’s a great way to learn what’s happening in Olympia and to let us know your thoughts and questions.

Agreement finally reached on Hirst bill!

One of the biggest disappointments last year was the failure of the Legislature to reach agreement on a “Hirst fix” bill, which sought to find relief for rural Washington landowners seeking to drill small water wells on their property. The need for such a bill came after the state Supreme Court in 2016 issued a decision commonly known as “Hirst” that essentially restricted landowners from putting in wells, which severely impacts their ability to develop their land and hurts rural economies throughout Washington.

I’m pleased to report that House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on a Hirst fix this week, and the Senate approved it last night. I was one of the negotiators, along with 13th District Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. We had many hours of meetings during this week that went late into the night. Our stance from the beginning was that we needed a bill that would treat rural landowners fairly so they can drill water wells on their land.

The most important part of this bill is that it protects existing wells, water uses, agriculture and development. Without water, landowners really cannot exercise their fundamental right to own, develop and enjoy property. The compromise we reached isn’t a perfect solution, but it allows for new domestic wells to be developed within the framework of current instream flow rules.  The legislation also recognizes the work of locally adopted watershed plans in developing projects that may help improve water quantity, quality, habitat and stream function.

Soon after the Senate passed the Hirst bill last night, we passed the state capital budget. As the Hirst problem for landowners became more apparent last year, my Senate Republican colleagues and I declared we would not pass a capital budget until a Hirst fix was passed because of its importance to so many families in rural Washington. I’m glad our caucus held firm until a Hirst fix was signed into law.

My bills this session

After talking with constituents and groups in the 7th District, I’ve introduced several bills this session.

Three of my bills include:

SB 5958 This would require the Department of Natural Resources, before it takes any significant agency action (such as imposing a rule), to identify its scientific sources of information it used to justify rules or other actions. Currently, the Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Wildlife have to follow this “show your work” requirement before taking any action, so it makes sense for DNR to do it, too. SB 5958 received a public hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee this week.

SB 6157 This bipartisan bill would allow folks better access to health care by changing an insurance carrier’s initial prior-authorization process so patients can have a consecutive number of treatment visits with specialty-care providers that have been determined to be medically necessary.

SB 6155 This would increase awareness of the need for bone-marrow donors by creating a checkbox on driver’s-license applications that connects interested applicants with Be The Match, a national marrow-donor program. The bill was inspired by a Deer Park constituent’s granddaughter who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007 and received a life-saving marrow transplant. This bill will receive a public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Listen to legislative updates on radio on Mondays!

Each Monday from 8 to 9 a.m. during the legislative session, I get together with Reps. Kretz and Maycumber to do a live, joint interview with KOMW Radio out of Omak. We provide updates on what each of us is working on and what’s happening in the Legislature, as well as answer listeners’ questions. If you want to listen each Monday morning, just tune in to KOMW at AM 680!

Contact Me

Phone: (360) 786-7612 | Email: Shelly.Short@leg.wa.gov |

Mail: P.O. Box 40407 Olympia, Washington  98504-0407

Online: http://shellyshort.src.wastateleg.org/