Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim) has been selected by his colleagues to continue to chair the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee when the Legislature convenes for the 2019 legislative session on Jan. 14.

Having served as the ranking member on the committee during his freshman year in the Senate in 2017, Van De Wege ascended to the chairmanship earlier this year after Democrats took control of the Senate. His first and most pivotal accomplishment as chair was to bring negotiators together to forge a compromise on the so-called Hirst water rights decision — resolving an issue that had gridlocked the Legislature during much of the 2017 legislative session — in the very first week of the 2018 session. Van De Wege’s compromise enabled property owners to draw minimal water for new developments while locking the state on a three-year schedule to negotiate a permanent solution to the satisfaction of environmental, tribal and real estate interests.

Another major bill of Van De Wege’s in 2018 prohibited the sale of firefighting foam that contains chemicals deadly to people and destructive to the environment past July 2020. The chemicals have been found in drinking water from wells and harmful not only to firefighters but to pregnant women and young children since the chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system and impede fetal development.

Van De Wege will also continue to serve on the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which determines the budget for state expenditures, and the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.

“These committee assignments are a great fit for our district’s needs and put me in a strong position to address our most important concerns,” Van De Wege said. “I will continue to focus on creating good jobs in our district, addressing the health care needs of our aging populace, and making sure our communities receive the funds they need to thrive.”