House Democrats Meeting Today to Discuss Options to Address Hirst Water Decision

Democratic leaders in the state House of Representatives have scheduled a work session relating to the state Supreme Court’s “Hirst” water rights decision.

Home Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee Chair Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) will convene the meeting “Some folks have been working on a different path forward and we’re going to get a briefing on the entire Hirst issue and then present that different path forward and let people from all sectors respond to it.”

Blake said he wants the committee to look at all proposals, and also give time for others to give public testimony. The different path he mentioned would fine tune the existing decision by legislation, but it won’t please everyone. “Mitigation in the streams, narrowing the bill so it just focuses on the basins with the instream flow rules. Not expecting a lot of ‘huzzah’s at the hearing. There will be probably folks from every side [that] will not like the bill.”

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The 2017 Legislative session saw Senate Republicans refuse to move forward with final passage of a capital budget. Months of negotiations ended with House Democrats refusing to vote on any solution to address the issue of water rights and rural development in response to the state Supreme Court ruling known as the Hirst decision.

The meeting today is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 in the O’Brien Building’s House Hearing Room A.