Water Bill Hearing

This second week has gone by fast. From hearings on agency budgets to reviewing administrative rules, we’ve been working our way through the early days of the 2019 session. For the most part, it feels like the House is finding its groove, and everyone new seems to have figured out where to find the bathrooms.

Now, I know you’ll find it shocking, but we talked about water this week. We had a committee hearing in Resources & Conservation involving a proposed bill to resolve a long-running issue in western Idaho about water rights and storage refill. The issue itself is important (let me know if you want to learn more details), but I want to focus on the bigger issue.

This bill represents multiple years of work. It required the contributions of many stakeholders. But it’s only 128 words.

Wait a minute. If it’s only 128 words, shouldn’t it have happened faster, been easier?

Maybe. But maybe not.

Sometimes, the solution to an issue seems so obvious — just fix it already!

An Obvious Solution May Not Be the Right Answer

What seems obvious can often start to appear a lot less obvious when you look farther down the line at the potential consequences of an “obvious” solution.

Let’s go back to our proposed water bill from earlier. Our “simple” bill could end up setting a precedent not just for this water issue but for water issues in the future. And not just water issues in the Treasure Valley, but for the entire state.

I understand the frustration with government. Things can appear to move really sssssllllllloooooowwwww, and in some instances, our frustration is justified. But there are issues where we’re better served by ensuring we’re really solving a problem and not creating others by accident. 

There’s also a question about the order of problem-solving. When he presented the water bill to the committee, Speaker Bedke noted, “If we are worrying about where our water is coming from, we do not have the luxury of worrying about quality.” In other words, this bill doesn’t resolve ALL the current or potential issues involving water in the Treasure Valley. But if we don’t start by solving a foundational issue, it makes it impossible to solve other connected issues.

Your Issues Matter

All that said, I appreciate how critical some issues will feel when it affects you personally. It compounds the frustration and sense of government refusing to act, and we need to be aware of it. We have a responsibility to pursue timely action that addresses your needs. We need to do a better job of moving things along and respecting your needs. Feel free to let me know if I can help you.

Finally, I want to remind you that Senator Hill, Representative Ricks, and I will hold a District 34 Town Hall this Saturday at 10 a.m. The weather looks like it will hold, and we can get home. We’ll be in the Madison County Commissioners’ Room in the courthouse and expect it to last an hour.

I hope you’ll join us. I look forward to seeing you and answering your questions.