Washington lawmakers face deadline in stalemate over rural water-use

Washington lawmakers are still gunning for a deal on rural water use, which could also lead to agreement on a capital construction budget. But they face a tight deadline: Olympia’s third special legislative session ends Thursday.

OLYMPIA — A handful of Washington lawmakers hope to reach a last-minute deal to end the lingering — and consequential — stalemate over rural water-use and a capital-construction budget.

Without a deal, rural property owners building homes could see their projects remain in limbo.

Meanwhile, Washington residents everywhere could miss out on billions of dollars for school construction, wildfire prevention and money to shore up the state’s troubled mental-health system.

A group of legislators were to meet Tuesday to see if they can reach an agreement on water-use legislation to address the state Supreme Court’s 2016 Hirst decision.

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That ruling effectively stopped the drilling of certain domestic water wells and put the brakes on some rural home construction.

Senate Republicans have said they will not vote to approve a construction budget without legislation to address Hirst.

With the Legislature’s third overtime session slated to end Thursday, there’s not much time left.

Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, and one of the lawmakers now involved in the water-use talks, said Monday he’s “cautiously optimistic.”

“I would say I’m confident that we have a path” to a deal, said Taylor. In a best-case scenario, lawmakers could return to Olympia on Wednesday for a vote, he added.

Taylor and Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, both said they will be in Tuesday’s meeting, and that there are still disagreements to be worked out.

But, “I’m more optimistic today [Monday] than I was last Friday,” Springer said.

If a rural water-use agreement is reached, a capital-budget deal could come together quickly, according to Rep….

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