SUBSTITUTE SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 8408
State of Washington 55th Legislature 1997 Regular Session
By Senate Committee on Agriculture & Environment (originally sponsored by Senators Morton, Snyder, McDonald, Loveland, Haugen, Sellar, Prince, Rasmussen, Hochstatter, Bauer, Winsley, Newhouse, Hargrove, Hale, Anderson, Schow, Spanel, McCaslin, Stevens, Strannigan, Fraser, Franklin and Roach)
Read first time 03/05/97.
WHEREAS, The Water Resource Statutes are written in a broad manner and as a result there is a wide range of different interpretations of the law which causes much confusion; and
WHEREAS, This situation creates major problems for the Department of Ecology and water users throughout the state; and
WHEREAS, This situation causes considerable delays and much higher costs for the Department of Ecology and water users; and
WHEREAS, An unusually large number of water right appeals of the Department of Ecology actions have overloaded the Pollution Control Hearings Board and the subsequent appeals of the Hearings Board's decisions to the courts have escalated costs and delays; and
WHEREAS, The efforts of any group assigned the task of developing additional or different state policies and procedures need independent, unbiased, and nonpartisan analysis and explanation of the current hard- to-interpret statutes; and
WHEREAS, The analysis and the explanation in the water resource law report as outlined in this concurrent resolution will put the legislators and other interested parties in the best possible position to proceed in clarifying the complex Water Resource Statutes and Rules; and
WHEREAS, The appropriate standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives need to prepare proposed legislation to clarify the Water Resource Statutes, using independent expert's analysis for guidance; and
WHEREAS, The proposed legislation will be considered for adoption by the 1998 legislature and for the use of official groups assigned to study water resource policy;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Senate of the state of Washington, the House of Representatives concurring, That the legislature directs the Agriculture and Environment Committee of the Senate and the Agriculture and Ecology Committee of the House of Representatives to adopt the process as outlined in this concurrent resolution. It is the intent of the legislature that the standing committees prepare proposed legislation to be considered for adoption by the legislature that will clarify water resource statutory language. This process is not intended to change state policy. The project will commence by the chairs of the two committees recommending to the appropriate legislative employment committee the employment of two professional experts, one being an independent attorney, and the other a consultant, who both have extensive experience in water law and its implementation. The two chairs shall submit a list of at least five names of persons who are to be considered by the legislative employment committees. The legislative employment committees shall hire persons recommended by the chairs. A person who has been a member of the legislature in the last five years may not be employed as an expert. The experts will (1) conduct a thorough analysis of the pertinent RCW's and WAC's concerning potential interpretations and application of the water resource law and (2) explain, in their report, how various interpretations relate to current RCW language and WAC rules and the implementation of the statutes and rules; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the following schedule and actions apply:
(1) By April 1, 1997, the chairs will hire the two experts.
(2) By June 1, 1997, the experts will complete a draft of the water resource law report, which includes the analysis and explanation.
(3) By June 15, 1997, the Department of Ecology will respond to the draft report.
(4) By August 1, 1997, the experts will report to the two full standing committees for comment.
(5) By September 1, 1997, the experts will submit their final report to the committee members.
(6) By October 1, 1997, the standing committees will distribute the report and hold public hearings.
(7) By October 15, 1997, the committees will take final action on the report.
(8) By December 15, 1997, the standing committees will consider and shall present statutory clarifying amendments consistent with the intent of this concurrent resolution for presentation to the 1998 legislative session or for the use of any official body working on water resource law and policy.
A sum of no more than $48,900 of general fund moneys may be used. The Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives may spend funds appropriated for the 1995-1997 biennium for the purposes of this concurrent resolution if authorized by the Facilities and Operations Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives Employment Committee. Continued funding for this resolution may be provided in the 1997-1999 biennial budget.
If the specific funding for the purposes of this concurrent resolution to prepare the water resource law report, is not provided the report required under this concurrent resolution is null and void.
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