On October 6, 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the so-called “Hirst” case. The implications of this decision have the potential of eliminating all or nearly all new household or exempt wells in rural Washington.
During the 2017 legislative sessions, press conferences of all four corners (both caucuses in both houses) and the Governor’s office repeatedly told the press there would be a Hirst fix, yet it didn’t get done. BIAW commissioned HR2 Research and Analytics to examine the economic impacts resulting from the Court’s decision. The results from the study reveal a significant impact to rural communities and residents as well as other parts of Washington state:
- $6.9 billion lost in economic activity each year in Washington, predominantly in rural communities
- $452.3 million in lost employee wages due to the impacts of Hirst, annually
- Nearly 9,300 lost jobs (FTEs) in rural Washington, annually
- $392.7 million in lost taxes to state and local governments, annually
- $4.59 billion in losses to the construction industry, annually
- $37 billion in lost property values in areas impacted by Hirst
- $346 million in property taxes shifted to other properties in Washington due to the decision
The HR2 report indicates that the Hirst decision will have exponential and far-reaching impacts in Washington state, with large effects and costs to rural communities.
To read the entire report click here.
Building Industry Association of Washington Press Release
Independent Study: Report Details Lower Employee Wages, Lost Jobs and Reduced Tax Revenue, Among Other Concerns
Several state lawmakers are voicing their desire to overturn a state Supreme Court water-rights decision after a study released by the Building Industry Association of Washington estimated that the Hirst decision would cost the state $6.9 billion annually in lost economic activity.
The decision makes it difficult and costly for rural and suburban property owners to get permits for new wells, lawmakers have said. The ruling essentially placed the burden of water availability studies on local jurisdictions and property owners. Previously, Department of Ecology data could be used to determine water availability. Continue reading
Former Washingon Gov. Dan Evans calls on the governor and Legislature to, finally, pass a capital budget and a fix for the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which has halted development in some rural areas.
By Daniel J. Evans
Special to The Times
It’s time for Gov. Jay Inslee, together with Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Legislature, to put partisanship aside and solve two pressing problems. Washington state needs a capital budget and a fix to the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision, which has impacted homebuilding in rural areas.
As construction costs rise, every day that goes by without passage of the state’s capital budget means that taxpayers will pay more for building schools and other projects, and it means that needed construction is delayed.
Equally important is modification of the law in response to the Hirst decision. Hirst will shatter the American dream for some Washington state families because they may not be able to obtain water on the properties they purchased unless the Legislature enacts a solution to that decision.
A recent study by the Building Industry Association of Washington suggested that $6.9 billion in economic growth every year will be lost if the Hirst decision stands. Even if the assumptions in the analysis are exaggerated, and the court decision costs the state only $3 billion annually in economic activity, would that be acceptable? Of course not, especially in rural areas that are desperate for an economic boost. Continue reading
Senator Tim Sheldon of the 35th District will be meeting with KAPO members and others for dinner starting at 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Aug 31, 2017 at McCloud’s, Grill House, 2901 Perry Ave. Bremerton, WA. 98310. Senator Sheldon will be sharing his thoughts on the Hirt’s Decision. (this is a fight to the finish for rural water rights). He also has his views on budgets, taxes, school funding and environmental issues of the State.
There is no RSVP required. Just bring yourself and your Questions and stay for dinner. Contact Jackie at (360) 990-1088 for more information. KAPO is a nonpartisan 501 C3 organization protecting individual property rights in Kitsap County.
The Supreme Court’s erroneous decision in Hirst http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/914753.pdf has been a lesson in pain demonstrating poor judicial decision making can cause a web of unintended punishments that go far beyond what is possibly the original intent. Yes, the environmental cartel’s (tribes, futurewise, agencies, and uncaring politicians) dreamed of result of halting growth in rural Washington was acheived. And those who stand to profit from the improper route of regulatory legislation from the bench will feel no pain. http://proprights.org/blog/stealing-our-water-one-lawsuit-time-hirst-heist-and-our-diminishing-legislature Yet this decision has caused suburban and rural Washingtonians to doubt the integrity and functionality of our system of governance, spurring a close look at how such a result can come about that has been instructive to those paying attention. Continue reading
“Morally repugnant”? No, it’s simply what rural families need
Too many Washington families are caught in a judicial and bureaucratic limbo thanks to the state Supreme Court’s Hirst decision. The case is about so much more than water – it’s about, as Madilynne Clark of the Washington Policy Center wrote, “two of the most fundamental necessities – homes and livelihoods.”
The court’s decision has left some families stuck. They’re unable to build on property that they bought before the decision, when new homes had the green light. That’s a big hit to rural economies. The Spokesman-Review noted, “People who purchased property under the old rules now face the prospect of not being able to build on it. Plummeting property values would also impact builders, lenders and county tax collections.”
This Legislative Memo examines the legislative and judicial history of Washington’s water access, explains the recent October 2016 court decision, Hirst v. Whatcom County, illustrates the narrow-minded nature of Hirst, examines the consequences of prohibitions on permit-exempt wells, and analyzes proposed solutions to provide citizens with water. We focus specifically on Senate Bill 5239 (Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5239 as of March 27, 2017). Hirst Legislative Memo Continue reading