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Published on Friday, July 7, 2017

Legislature still not finished as AWC begins work identifying priorities for the 2018 session

The state’s operating, transportation and supplemental budgets have been adopted and signed by the Governor, but legislators have yet to adjourn while still in their third special session, ending July 20. AWC and many legislators hope a capital budget can be passed so that critical funding for numerous infrastructure programs and projects can move forward.

At issue is whether or not a compromise can be reached on how and if to address two recent state Supreme Court rulings affecting water availability for development. These cases known as Hirst and Foster turned water management on its head by requiring local government to independently assess the legal availability of water in parallel with the state (Hirst) and eliminating the opportunity for creative mitigation to offset impacts of new water rights, changes or transfers (Foster). Compromise agreements to address these have so far eluded legislators and the Senate majority has refused to adopt a capital budget until there is agreement on these complex water issues. Read more about this issue here.

As we’ve reported previously, AWC appreciates that the operating budget agreements maintain the bulk of revenues shared with cities and provide some new revenues (internet sales tax collections on out-of-state retailers and bottled water). A more detailed chart of city impacts provides more information.

As the clock ticks towards the end of this third special session, AWC is gearing up to provide a summary of legislative accomplishments. Look for our annual Final Bulletin within a month of session ending and action by the Governor on any final bills.

Also, we’ve begun seeking and considering ideas for our legislative priorities for the upcoming 60-day session in 2018. Our Legislative Committee is set to meet in late July to begin sorting through ideas.

Look for more information in August and September as this process unfolds. Recommendations will be sent to the AWC Board of Directors for their consideration in late September after which AWC will hold Regional Meetings around the state to discuss issues during October and early November.