Legislators set table for water, other ag issues
Committees will review 'use it or lose it' law, more
By STEVE BROWN
When the Washington Legislature begins its 2011 session on Jan. 10 fees and water rights will be among the agricultural issues facing lawmakers new and old. The 105-day session will have many new faces, but the chairmanships of the House and Senate agricultural committees remain unchanged.
On the House side, Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, said water will be a big issue this year.
"I put out a call for water bills, and the spigot's been opened," Blake said.
Blake said he expects relinquishment -- the state's so-called "use it or lose it" law on water rights -- will be among the topics discussed in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Under current law, all or some of a water right may be lost if the owner does not use it for a long time.
"The ability to conserve water and spread it to new acreage is important to agriculture," he said.
Fee-based programs -- those supported by user fees -- are also likely to get plenty of attention.
"Typically the ag community has been just great," he said. "Farmers and ranchers have told us, 'We see value in these programs.'"
On the other hand, Blake said, "Ag and timber haven't seen value in hydraulic permit applications, for building culverts and bridges."
Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, has led the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Committee for two years and has served in the House and Senate for 20 years.
During the first week of the Legislature, Hatfield has scheduled committee work sessions on pesticide registration, the proposed removal of dikes on Leque Island -- which has some residents concerned over the loss of agricultural land -- and reports from ag spokesmen on what they discussed during December's Ag Summit.
* Agriculture & Rural Economic Development Committee:
Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond (chairman); Paull Shin, D-Edmonds (vice chairman); Jerome Delvin, R-Richland (ranking Republican); Randi Becker, R-Eatonville; Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island; Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens; Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside; Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville
* Environment, Water & Energy Committee:
Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island (chairman); Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island (vice chairwoman); Jim-Honeyford, R-Sunnyside (ranking Republican); Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline; Jerome Delvin, R-Richland; Karen Fraser, D-Olympia; Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake; Bob Morton, R-Kettle Falls; Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island
* Natural Resources & Marine Waters Committee:
Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island (chairman); Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma (vice chairwoman); Bob Morton, R-Kettle Falls (ranking Republican); Karen Fraser, D-Olympia; Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam; Val Stevens, R-Arlington; Dan Swecker, R-Rochester
* Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee:
Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen (chairman); Derek Stanford, D-Bothell (vice chairman); Bruce Chandler, R-Granger (ranking Republican); Vincent Buys, R-Lynden; Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish; Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum; Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda; Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes; Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island; Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim; J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm
* Environment, Water and Energy Committee:
Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines (chairman); Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island (vice chairman); Shelly Short, R-Addy (ranking Republican); Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley; Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien; Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon; Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace; Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama; Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe; Dean Takko, Longview; David Taylor, R-Moxee; Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim