Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This is the sixth week of the 2011 session. The next two weeks the House and Senate will be continuing to hold public hearings on proposals in the respective chambers. Any bills that do not move out of committee after this are likely “dead” until next year.
Since agriculture is the most vital part of our economy, I'm working to ensure the state helps landowners and employers in agriculture to succeed and grow.
Two different approaches to water
Growers, producers and landowners depend on reliable access to water. This year the Legislature is considering several proposals to change how water is managed. There are two different approaches that I have contrasted below.
I support proposals/current practices to:
Governor and Department of Ecology proposals/current practices would:
|recognize water conservation as a beneficial use of water for purposes of relinquishment||recognize needs to reform “use it or lose it”|
|extend the time to put water to beneficial use from five to 15 years to determine cause for relinquishment||look at any five-year period of beneficial or non-beneficial use to determine cause for relinquishment|
|create a voter-accountable Water Commission to manage the state's water resources||create 16 new state positions in water resources between 2013-2017|
|address pending applications by finding efficiencies within the water resources program||address pending applications by adopting a fee schedule to allow for “cost recovery”|
|end relinquishment practices and rely solely on the common law doctrine of abandonment||continue relinquishment practices and making them more complicated by changing definition of “sufficient cause”|
|protect the use of exempt wells for residential properties livestock,||provide Ecology a “dimmer switch” to reduce the daily limits on new exempt well construction|
In addition, Department of Ecology has requested more authority to tell landowners what they can and can't do, while I support two proposals to create a more accountable Ecology and other state agencies. House Bill 1068 would require the governor's signature on significant agency rules for agencies that operate under the governor's office. House Bill 1341, which was heard in committee today, would require that any agency rule not take effect until after the following legislative session to allow for the Legislature to review the rule and the governor to sign it.
Governor's consolidation proposals
The governor has put forward several consolidation proposals in the last couple of months.
One that would greatly affect our district would consolidate 11 natural resource agencies into five larger agencies by July 2012.
Among other things, it would create a Department of Conservation and Recreation, consisting of several current departments and programs. The Gorge Commission would be put under the Department of Ecology, and the Conservation Commission would be put under the Department of Agriculture. This proposal would save $2.5 million, and eliminate 13.5 positions. You can read more about this proposal here. Please take a few minutes to tell me what you think about this proposal in a short survey here.
In contrast, a proposal is being developed to reform the water management program that is estimated to save several million dollars. This proposal would suspend some minor planning activities, use other funding sources such as the capital budget and federal government programs, and cause the program to work more efficiently with existing data and activities.
I appreciate hearing from you. It's an honor to serve as your voice in Olympia.