Multiple bills head to governor’s desk


A number of bills from 42nd Legislative District state representatives Joe Timmons and senator Sharon Shewmake passed both chambers of the state legislature, and now have either been signed by Governor Jay Inslee or are heading to the governor’s desk.

Shewmake bill to assist county with incoming water rights adjudication

Senate Bill 5828 passed unanimously through the House and Senate, and was delivered to the governor on March 8 to be signed into law.

The bill would add a section to the current water rights portion of state law to allow local counties to appoint attorneys to act as water commissioners as superior courts works through caseloads.

The adjudication of the Nooksack River, the legal process of the state recording and doling out water usage claims to parties along Whatcom County’s 75-mile drinking water and irrigation source, will officially begin this spring. The process will take years and will result in thousands of claims to investigate and determine water rights by the state Department of Ecology and Whatcom County Superior Court.

Timmons bill to add judge to Whatcom County Superior Court

With a backlog of cases and a fast-approaching water rights adjudication of the Nooksack River, Timmons sponsored House Bill 1992, which would increase the number of judges on the Whatcom County Superior Court from four to five.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously on February 29, and will hopefully allow the county more capacity to get through massive caseloads and thousands of water claims in the coming months and years.

“The pandemic exacerbated the backlog of civil and criminal cases that the Whatcom County Superior Court handles and it was evident that we need another judge on this court to work through cases more efficiently and to process the Department of Ecology’s impending water rights adjudication,” Timmons wrote in a statement.  

Inslee, after signing the bill, would appoint the additional judge.

Timmons bill would create state public infrastructure assistance program

House Bill 2020, co-sponsored by Timmons and state representative Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia) would create a public infrastructure assistance program within the state’s emergency management division.

The bill would help the state respond to natural disasters, like the Nooksack River floods in 2021 that devastated multiple low-lying communities that may not fully qualify for federal assistance.


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