This past week the House majority and the governor admitted they are in no rush to find a remedy for the Supreme Court’s Hirst decision.
House Democrat leaders said they’d address Hirst in “negotiations.” Governor Inslee calls Hirst a “distraction” from work to reform the K-12 funding system.
Those excuses are full of holes. After letting their own Hirst-related bills die, and killing the Senate’s sensible bipartisan remedy, House Democrats have nothing to negotiate with.
And Inslee knows it would take all of 15 minutes for the House majority to pull Senate Bill 5239 from the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, pass it off the floor, and…we’re done. Some distraction.
So what else could it be?
Is it about water for fish, as some House Democrats have hinted? That doesn’t seem credible when the household wells targeted by Hirst account for less than 1 percent of water consumption in Washington.
Hirst isn’t crushing only the dreams of families who want to build on land that doesn’t have access to a municipal water system. It also hits those who help make such dreams come true: real estate, local lenders, contractors and more. Are Inslee and House Democrats blind to that? Could be, as House Democrats clearly seem oblivious to the harm of their plan to raise taxes on most employers by 20 percent.
Do House Democrats simply have it out for rural Washington? That’s credible, seeing how their budget would spend $2 billion more than the Senate’s but doesn’t even include $4 million to continue state support for fairs, which are popular in rural areas.
Maybe House Democrats think Hirst can weaken our Senate majority’s opposition to their proposed tax on personal income. That’s about as likely as someone falling for their line that their income tax is really an “excise” tax.
In a March 20 video Representative Brian Blake, House ag-committee chairman, said he was “hopeful that [SB 5239] can be the vehicle to resolve [Hirst].” Nine days later he let the bill die. It makes you wonder who ordered the killing.
The Senate has done its part to fix Hirst. If the House had passed our bill, the remedy could have taken effect already. Families and rural communities would be feeling immediate relief. Instead, Democrats offer only weak excuses.