Reps. Buys and Van Werven issue joint statement on lack of Hirst fix as Legislature adjourns

Forty-second District Reps. Vincent Buys and Luanne Van Werven issued the following joint statement today after the Legislature adjourned Thursday without passing legislation to address the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision that jeopardizes development in Whatcom County and communities throughout Washington state:

“To say we are disappointed that we are leaving Olympia without a Hirst fix is an understatement. We have a constitutional duty to fight for our constituents, families and communities on this critical property-rights issue.

“We are also frustrated that a capital budget was not finalized, but not having a solution for Hirst is far worse. By failing to implement a comprehensive Hirst solution, we are telling taxpayers – those who foot the bill for projects in the capital budget – that we will use their hard-earned dollars for projects around the state, but they will not be allowed to drill a well to help develop their own property. There is a real human impact here. We have heard too many heartbreaking stories of Whatcom County families having their dreams, investments, and retirement plans shattered as a result of this devastating court ruling.

“The temporary 24-month ‘fix’ put forth by the Seattle-centric House majority in the last couple days is nothing more than a farce. Let us be clear: this ‘solution’ is meaningless for Whatcom County and other rural communities throughout our state.  A temporary solution can leave permitting or financing issues in limbo over the long-term. Not to mention it routinely can take up to two years to obtain a building permit. All their bill does is provide more uncertainty for families, developers, lenders and others.

“We should not have left Olympia without a comprehensive Hirst solution and capital budget this year. We already passed a strong capital budget in the state House of Representatives on July 1. All that remained was to vote on the agreed-upon, bipartisan Hirst fix. Yet, despite having bipartisan support, the House majority refused to allow a vote on the bill.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing some in the Legislature caving to the political power of a few special interests who do not want a Hirst solution. In the end, their anti-growth agenda trumped the protection of basic property rights.

“Finally, this is not just a rural issue. All will be effected. The Whatcom County Assessor has estimated a $271 million drop in property values without a Hirst fix. When property values diminish in rural areas and communities are unable to build and develop, those in urban areas will likely have the burden of picking up the difference in property taxes.”

“Given the impacts of this controversial court ruling reach statewide, we hope our colleagues from all corners of the state will join us in negotiating a true, long-term solution.”


Washington State House Republican Communications