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Published on Friday, January 15, 2016

Visible presence of cities at the Capitol kicks off week one

Entering week two of an eight-plus-week legislative session, a number of key AWC and city issues have already begun to be considered. Numerous city officials from around the state have testified and are frequently seen on Capitol Campus dashing from one legislator meeting to the next. That kind of presence helps legislators better understand the concerns that cities have with the escalating number of broad public records requests, paired with our commitment to having open and transparent government. We’re encouraged that the House appears to be interested in looking at these challenges.

Also encouraging was a House hearing on a bill to broaden city and county authority to regulate and ban fireworks if communities are facing conditions like last summer’s extensive dry spells. Less encouraging was a hearing on a House bill that would eliminate local authority to ban legal marijuana retail stores unless there was a public vote. AWC testified strongly for local control in both instances.

There were a number of committee work sessions in both the House and Senate dealing with ways to help small businesses. Cities had the opportunity to share what they’re doing to make it easier for businesses to operate. We also shared thoughts and ideas about the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget before the House and Senate fiscal committees. We expressed our appreciation that efforts to find more resources for state programs didn’t rely on plucking funds from those shared with cities.

We and others representing city interests in Olympia fanned out to meet with legislators to seek their support and signature on bills to restore growth in liquor profits shared with cities and counties. In 2012, legislators capped that growth and then diverted it to the state budget. We’re encouraged and appreciative of the bipartisan support we’re getting and hope to have hearings soon in both chambers.

Our small team of AWC lobbyists filmed a brief video with some tips and encouragement for you to connect with your legislators. Your relationship with them makes a big impact. One suggestion is to encourage them to inquire about joining the emerging House Local Government Caucus, which is an informal group of Democrat and Republican legislators who meet to consider ways to help support cities and counties. Let your legislators know you’d like them to find out more and to contact either Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) or Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton). We’re still hoping a similar effort in the Senate yields results and will keep you posted on how that’s going.

During this hoped-for short 60-day session, we’re fast approaching the first deadline of February 5. That’s when non-fiscal bills must clear a policy committee to keep moving. Our attention is on getting hearings scheduled and bills moving. Check here next week for ways that you can help!

Today’s edition of our Legislative Bulletin is delivered on the holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Among his many great contributions, Dr. King left a legacy of service – reminding us that everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. Your lobby team at AWC is honored to serve so many great city officials that, in turn, serve their communities every day by making them better and safer places to live, learn, work and play.