Author Archives: Laudan Espinoza

Schoesler and Warnick welcome appointment of Ybarra to 13th District vacancy

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on January 15, 2019

On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, commissioners from Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln and Yakima counties appointed longtime Quincy resident Alex Ybarra to the state House of Representatives to fill a vacant seat in the delegation. Ybarra was immediately sworn in upon appointment and will join Sen. Judy Warnick and Rep. Tom Dent as part of the 13th District delegation in Olympia for the 105-day legislative session.

Ybarra is no stranger to Olympia, serving on several legislative task forces and state commissions, and will be a familiar face when he takes his seat in the Legislature.

Warnick, R-Moses Lake, who has worked with Ybarra on a variety of policy issues over the past several years, welcomed his appointment.

“I first met Alex at an education listening tour in the district and I knew then that he would make a dynamic public servant,” said Warnick. “His personal story and passion for serving the community are evident. Our district has an outstanding new Representative working for them in Olympia.”

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, has also worked with Ybarra in Olympia on energy and education issues, noting, “Alex is an extremely hard worker. He’s knowledgeable, insightful and able to get things done. The people of the 13th District have someone who is going to make sure their voice is heard in the Legislature.”

En el primer día de la sesión legislativa de 2019, los comisionados de los condados de Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln y Yakima nombraron al residente de Quincy, Alex Ybarra, a la Cámara de Representantes del estado para ocupar un puesto vacante en la delegación. Ybarra fue jurado inmediatamente después de su nombramiento y se unirá con la senadora Judy Warnick y con el representante Tom Dent como parte de la delegación del Distrito 13 en Olympia para la sesión legislativa de 105 días.

Ybarra no es desconocido a Olympia, él se desempeña en varios grupos de trabajo legislativos y comisiones estatales, y será una cara familiar cuando tome su asiento en la Legislatura. Warnick, R-Moses Lake, quien ha trabajado con Ybarra en una variedad de proyectos políticos durante los últimos años, dio la bienvenida a su nombramiento.

“Conocí a Alex en un tour educativo en el distrito y supe entonces que sería un servidor público dinámico,” dijo Warnick. “Su historia personal y su pasión por servir a la comunidad son evidentes. Nuestro distrito tiene un nuevo representante excepcional que trabaja para el en Olympia.”

El líder republicano del Senado, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, también ha trabajado con Ybarra en Olympia en temas de energía y educación, y el nota, “Alex es extremadamente trabajador. Él está bien informado, perspicaz y capaz de hacer las cosas. La gente del Distrito 13 tiene a alguien que se asegurará de que su voz sea reconocida en la Legislatura.”


Episode 2 – Western State Hospital

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on August 03, 2018

The views expressed by individual members are not necessarily those of the entire caucus.

Episode 1 – Sen. O’Ban discusses his jobs tax credit

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on 

The views expressed by individual members are not necessarily those of the entire caucus.

Senate Republican leaders offer condolences amid Amtrak tragedy in Pierce County

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on December 18, 2017

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Pierce County, who serves as the Senate Republican Caucus Chair, and Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler offered their condolences to victims of the Amtrak train derailment.

“We are praying for the victims, families and all those involved in this tragedy,” said Becker. “I am thankful for the fast, robust response from our community’s firefighters, police and EMTs. This incident is unprecedented for our Pierce County community and I urge patience as people work to alleviate traffic, provide needed medical care and reconnect loved ones.”

“I am in conversation with the Governor’s Office and other leaders to determine how the state will respond to this emergency,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “I echo Senator Becker’s sentiments. The people affected by this tragedy are in our prayers throughout Washington. We will do all we can to help citizens impacted by this disaster.”

Our efforts to protect rural Washington’s future.

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on July 05, 2017

Warnick urges action on Hirst in letter to governor


Where does the Hirst Fix stand as of March 31

Senate Bill 5239

Press release on passage of SB 5239

Sen. Judy Warnick’s testimony on the Hirst fix

Sen. Shelly Short discusses Hirst

What the sponsor of the Hirst-fix legislation has been saying

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on 

Read more about the what the chair of the Senate’s water-related committee, Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, has been doing to help rural families suffering as a result of the flawed Hirst decision.

Since the regular session, Warnick who sponsored the Hirst-fix legislation, Senate Bill 5239, has been working to elevate the issue and keep rural families at the fore of discussions in Olympia.


Click here to read more. 

Press Coverage of Hirst

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on 

Legislature must find water-well solution – Spokesman Editorial

The Impact

“Hirst decision debated between House and Senate” – KOZI

“Some home building halted as counties respond to water-rights case” – Seattle Times

“High stakes battle under way over limited water in Washington’s rural areas” – Seattle Times

“State Senate passes bill to address Hirst water-rights decision” – Seattle Times

“Senate passes bill to address Hirst water-rights decision” – KING TV

“Fixing the Hirst problem” – The Daily News

“War of the Wells: Hirst Decision Draws Stealthy Demonstration to Washington State Capitol” – KUOW

“Mason builders affected by Supreme Court water ruling” – Kitsap Sun

“Spokane adopts emergency ordinance to address controversial Hirst water rights decision” – Spokesman Review

“Balance Water Rights: House should OK bill addressing issues raised by ruling on wells, development” – Columbian Editorial

“Flawed water-rights ruling must be reversed” – Sen. Randi Becker Op-Ed in the Tacoma News Tribune

“Rural property owners find there’s no water at the pump” – Sen. Jan Angel Op-Ed in the Kitsap Daily News

“Hirst could be the tipping point for state’s endangered rural Democrats” – Sen. Tim Sheldon Op-Ed in the Washington State Wire

“Anti-growth interests obstruct new jobs, affordable housing” – Sen. Lynda Wilson Op-Ed in the Columbian

“Property owners need access to water again” – Yakima Herald Editorial

“State legislators fighting to overturn Hirst decision” – Longview Daily News

“Water Troubles” – Longview Daily News Editorial

“Lawmakers must strike deal on ‘Hirst’ water-rights ruling” – Seattle Times Editorial

“Rural water issue must be addressed” – Walla Walla Union Bulletin Editorial

“What’s taking so long?” – Longview Daily News Editorial

“House failed to solve water, capital budget issues” – Longview Daily News Op-Ed

Thurston Co. Commissioners Consider $600,00 Study in Hirst Decision Fallout

Details about the Hirst decision

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on 
  • In late 2016, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling resulting from a challenge to rules in Whatcom County relating to the Growth Management Act.


  • The ruling turned decades of water law on its head by requiring local jurisdictions, such as counties, to make legal determinations on water availability before issuing a building permit, something the state Dept. of Ecology already had done.


  • Dissenters on the court noted, ““The majority’s decision hinges on an interpretation of RCW 19.27.097 that is unsupported by the plain language of the statute, precedent, or common sense.”


  • Counties and cities do not have the financial resources or technical expertise to make these judgements.


  • This effectively halted home building in rural parts of the state by requiring costly and duplicative studies to make legal determinations of water availability before a small, household well can be drilled.


  • When the 2017 legislative session began, the impacts of the decision became apparent, as counties and cities, did not know how to handle the decision. Counties took different approaches including building permit moratoriums, creating confusion.


  • The Senate Majority acted to address the problem. Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, introduced Senate Bill 5239, a bipartisan proposal to clarify the law and give certainty to property owners and local jurisdictions.


  • During public hearings on the proposed Hirst fix legislation, property owners from around the state pled for a solution, some spending their life’s savings to build a home on a property only to be told they couldn’t and facing the possibility that the property had lost its value.


  • The Senate passed E2SSB 5239 (An Act Relating to Ensuring that Water is Available to Support Development) on February 28, by a vote of 28-21.  The bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.


  • The House ANR Committee held a public hearing on the bill on March 28, one day before policy committee cutoff for bills from the opposite chamber.


  • On March 29 – cutoff – the House committee failed to vote on the bill, meaning that the bill did not move out of the committee according to the required legislative timeline for policy bills.

McCleary and the income tax

By Laudan Espinoza | Published on May 03, 2017

Published opinion pieces from members of the Majority Coalition Caucus draw the connections between McCleary and the long-running effort to impose an income tax.


Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, in The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review, Jan. 8, 2017: Income tax is the real issue, not schools

“This is the cleverest campaign for an income tax ever mounted in this state. Advocates for bigger government have created the illusion of a crisis in the public schools that only mountains of money can fix. Through a lawsuit they’ve gotten the state Supreme Court on their side. They would force taxes that dig deeper into everyone’s pockets, slam the brakes on economic growth, and redistribute more of the people’s hard-earned income to state agencies and powerful special-interest groups. Ultimately the goal is an income tax. Yet supporters are bending over backward to avoid using that term – and who can blame them?”


Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, in the Valley News Herald, Jan. 13, 2017: An out-of-bounds court casts shadow over Legislature

“Over the last 80 years this state has seen has seen considerable political agitation for an income tax. This effort comes from those with the most to gain – the unions representing state employees and teachers, social-service advocates and others. But every time an income tax has been put to the people since 1934, they have said no, in the loudest possible terms. The Supreme Court’s intrusion into the school-funding debate appears part of a well-calculated strategy to back the state into a corner and force it to adopt an income tax, whether it wants one or not.”


Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, in Crosscut, Jan. 20, 2017: The monster lurking behind school funding – an income tax

“Advocates of a state income tax have finally realized they will never win if they put the question to the people in an honest way. So they have set up the phoniest debate since America was forced to choose between “tastes great” and “less filling.” If you listen to the proponents, our big argument for 2017 is about levy equalization and model-school formulas — magic words that have the effect of putting an entire state to sleep. But really it is the same old argument we’ve been having in Washington more than 80 years. Our big debate isn’t about education. It’s about the income tax.”