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One of this session's most important legislative debates has ended. Last week, a water rights solution for Hirst was signed into law.

Update | Hirst solution approved

The state Supreme Court's Hirst decision threw decades of case law and legislation into a tailspin, putting the water permit process out of balance, and impeding economic growth in many rural areas. Property without water is worthless. After Hirst was decided by the court, many property owners and business developers suffered severe economic loss due to the collapse of the value of their land. My colleagues and I were determined to see the people of our state provided with the relief they need and deserve.

After months of intense negotiations, I'm happy to report the recently approved solution takes away the uncertainty many property owners, homebuilders, banks and counties have faced since the court's decision about the drilling of permit-exempt wells.

The new Hirst fix will allow for the drilling of new wells and water usage of 950 – 3,000 gallons per day, depending on the watershed area. All existing wells are “grandfathered in.” Stock watering and water for wildfire buffers is also allowed. This solution will provide the framework needed so property owners can develop and build on their land. It's a big win for the people of the 12th District, and the state.

Update | Capital budget approved

The long awaited 2017-2019 capital budget was also approved last week. With $4.17 billion in total spending and $2.72 billion in bonds, the newly approved budget also leaves $211 million for supplemental capital budget planning in 2018.

This strong bipartisan construction budget funds infrastructure projects throughout our state. As a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, I worked hard to ensure several local projects were included. Capital budget funding for the 12th District totals more than $68 million.

Here's a list of some of the projects in the budget: 

  • Lake Chelan Community Hospital -$300,000
  • Twisp Civic Building – $750,000
  • City of Brewster Manganese Abatement – $752,000
  • Chelan County Emergency Operations Center – $1 million
  • Miller Street re-alignment and storm repairs – $4.82 million
  • Mid-Columbia Grand Coulee – $3 million
  • Wenatchee Valley Wells Hall replacement – $2.72 million
  • Lake Chelan State Park (moorage dock pile replacement) – $1.51 million

Click here to see a complete list of 12th District projects approved in the capital budget.

My bills | Service animal legislation

Service animals are trained to perform tasks for people with a disabilities. Typically these trained animals are used by people with vision or hearing impairments. Today, many of these service animals are also utilized by people with other impairments of mobility including; people prone to seizures, or with conditions like autism or mental illness.

Regrettably, fake service dogs are becoming a problem. Some people try to pass their pet off as a service animal to gain access to places of business, like restaurants or hotels. These pets are not trained and often misbehave. This session, I've introduced a measure that would make it a civil infraction, with a $500 fine, for the misrepresentation of a service animal.

House Bill 2822 is scheduled for a vote by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Student bill | Stopping scholarship displacement

What's scholarship displacement? The term is used when a student has won a private scholarship, and the college or university they are attending reduces their financial aid package by the amount of the new award. This is often unfair to students awarded scholarship funds.

It takes an extraordinary effort for a student to apply for and win a private scholarship. Many students lose college aid dollars as a result of winning private scholarship dollars. When a college reduces a student's financial aid, it takes away the incentive to go after alternative awards.

My bill is about helping students. It stops public colleges and universities from reducing financial support when a student receives a private scholarship (those offered by private philanthropic organizations). The public college or university may only reduce its grant if the total amount awarded to the student (with private scholarship) exceeds the students demonstrated financial need.

I serve on a number of philanthropic boards that give away scholarship money to college and university students. People give their money with the hope their contributions will make it easier for struggling students to pay for college, not easier for a college to pay for aid packages.

House Bill 2823 is scheduled for a vote by the House Higher Education Committee on Friday, Feb. 2.

House Page | Shane Tamngin

Shane Tamngin traveled all the way to Olympia from Wenatchee to serve one week as a House page for the Washington State House of Representatives. Shane was a big help. I'm glad he had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the legislative process!

Click here if you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about the House page program.

Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan with House page Shane Tamngin, 2018 legislative session.

Contacting me

Your feedback is always welcome. You can email or call my office anytime. Additionally, if you need assistance navigating a state agency or other state government related issues, please do not hesitate to call my office.

It is an honor to serve as your state representative.


Mike Steele

State Representative Mike Steele, 12th Legislative District
122F Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000