Ericksen: New vote on Hirst bill shows Senate’s determination

OLYMPIA – As the Washington Senate voted a second time Tuesday for a bill to protect the right of rural property owners to drill domestic wells, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said the action signals lawmakers’ determination to see the issue resolved this year.

Ericksen is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 5239, which overturns the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision last fall imposing enormous bureaucratic burdens on property owners who need to tap groundwater in order to obtain building permits and develop their land. County governments also have balked at the new requirements; in Whatcom County commissioners have announced a six-month moratorium on new building permits dependent on wells.

Although the Senate’s Hirst bill passed the Senate in February, it was bottled up in a House committee and did not receive a vote before the Legislature’s regular session ended April 23. The new vote keeps the bill alive for further consideration during the Legislature’s current special session.

“We have said from the first day of the session that protection for property owners is a top priority for the Senate,” Ericksen said. “This vote shows we are determined to see it through.”