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Published on Friday, February 10, 2017

Critical water bills get hearing and one bill advances

Bills seeking to address the challenges resulting from the recent Hirst and Foster Supreme Court cases continue to get a lot of attention. The bill preferred by local governments and the development community, HB 1885 was heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. On the same day, a bill preferred by the environmental community and the tribes, HB 1918, was also heard. There was a packed room full of testimony on all sides. We will be working with committee members to keep HB 1885 moving but recognize that elements of both approaches are probably necessary to get a bill to the finish line.

Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade & Economic development committee moved SB 5239, which is the Senate Republican approach to the problem. As the committee moved the bill they added language that addresses the Foster case, which we greatly appreciate. AWC is supportive of this bill as written, but we recognize that it will likely need additional amendments to keep moving. The vote in the committee was largely party line with all Republicans voting for the bill, all Democrats but one voting against, and one Democrat voting to advance the bill without recommendation. Even more bills on this subject are being introduced and we are encouraged by the level of attention this issue is getting.