BY ANDREW BECKETT
The state Senate stopped just short of a final vote Tuesday on a bill that would allow owners of high capacity wells to avoid having their permits reviewed when they repair, re-drill, or sell their property.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said the measure strikes a necessary balance between various demands on the state’s water resources. “We understand what the Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine represents, but at the same time, we have to make sure we have a balance so that agriculture in all parts of the state can continue to flourish,” he said.
Democrats like Chris Larson of Milwaukee insisted the needs of other water users need to be considered. “It’s hard as it is to say “no” to those that want infinite water, for themselves, forever, unchecked…that’s where we need to stand on this.”
A final vote on the bill was delayed due to a procedural move by Democrats. The Senate will be back at 8 a.m. Wednesday to take that vote.
A similar measure passed the Senate last year, but fell short of winning approval after the Assembly acted on a competing version of the bill. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Tuesday that he believes the version the Senate is considering will be able to pass in his chamber this session.
Photo: Senate chambers