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Builder group seeking help to change Hirst

— When the Washington State Supreme Court made the Hirst decision a year ago, lots of people cried foul because of the ramifications.

One group that could be hurt big-time, the building industry, is taking its fight against Hurst on the road. Representatives of Building Industry Association of Washington visited the Daily Sun office this week.

Vice President Art Castle and Government Affairs Director Jan Himebaugh brought with them an independent study of the issues that bolsters their claims. It was conducted by the respected research company HR2 Research and Analytics.

“The numbers were a lot higher than we thought they would be when we asked the question,” Himebaugh said. “They were so I high I had to ask if they were sure. They were.”

The question was: How bad could Hirst be for association members?

“Hirst is a 2016 Washington State Supreme Court decision that will likely eliminate nearly all household wells,” the association says in its campaign literature.

That is the same concern for Moses Lake Republican Senator Judy Warnick, chair of the Senate Agriculture. Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee.

The Senate passed a bill Warnick wrote to reverse the decision, but the Democrat-controlled House did not. Warnick and Senate leadership retaliated by not allowing a floor vote on the capital budget.

Gov. Jay Inslee has been on a statewide campaign seeking public pressure on the Republicans. Groups like the association are campaigning to the contrary.

The study by HR2 found that nearly 9,300 jobs will be lost, or not realized yearly. There will be a loss of $37 billion in property loss. The loss in economic activity will be $6.9 billion. Rural Washington will realize $452.3 million in lost wages.

The construction industry will lose $4.59 million, and the state will lose $392.7 million in revenue.

“I’ve never seen anything with this kind of impact,” Castle said.

Castle and Himebaugh said all Washingtonians need to take Hirst’s potential seriously. Both said builders in four counties have reported having contracts cancelled because of Hirst.

“By and large,” Himebaught said, “Eastern Washington will be shut down for economic development and home development.”

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