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As a member of the Washington State House of Representatives, I send occasional email updates designed to keep you informed about the issues being debated in the Legislature that may impact our communities and Washington state. If you think you received this message in error, or do not want to receive email updates from me, simply click on the link below to unsubscribe from my email list.

I’m happy to be writing my first legislative update from Olympia. The month of session has been extremely educational and fast-paced. I appreciate the many people that have made their way to Olympia to share their perspectives on bills and committee hearings. Below are a few updates regarding several important issues facing Washington state and the 12th District this year.

Water Rights

I recently had the opportunity to meet with realtors from back home. Much of our discussion focused on the impacts of the Hirst Decision on our private property owners, farmers and prospective buyers.

In October 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling that requires all 39 counties in the state to legally find water for permit-exempt wells.

Prior to the ruling, most counties were relying on rules established by the Department of Ecology for allocating water rather than making their own analysis of water that was legally available.

The decision has been devastating to property owners, rural families, and new homeowners. The Hirst Decision squarely places the burden of managing water on the shoulders of counties, and makes it nearly impossible for property owners to drill a new well. Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan Counties have already begun to feel the paralyzing effects on property sales and economic development efforts.

Senate Bill 5239 is the first piece of legislation introduced to counteract the Hirst Decision. The bill, introduced by Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, has received a public hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade & Economic Development Committee.

The American Dream wasn’t supposed to be, “buy this property but don’t expect to have any legal water.” I’ve been following SB 5239 closely and I look forward to voting on it when it comes to the House.

K-12 education and funding

Funding K-12 education and increasing local control are the key goals of this year’s budget.

Senate Republicans and House Democrats released their initial plans on how to best fund K-12 education last week. We’ve the conversation and have started looking  at real solutions for supporting teachers and giving every child in Washington state a world-class education.

Thank you to those who have taken the time to contact me with your stories regarding the schools in our district. As we continue to negotiate a comprehensive education funding solution, I hope to hear from more teachers, parents and students in our area.


I’ve had the privilege of welcoming many special visitors to the Capitol, including realtors, who took the time to travel across the pass to meet with me.

That’s all for now! I look forward to sending more updates as the session progresses. Please feel free to get in touch with any comments, questions or concerns you have. It is an honor to serve you in the House.



Mike Steele

State Representative Mike Steele, 12th Legislative District
335A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000