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Published on Friday, February 12, 2016

Threading through what looks like partisan bickering

If you’ve followed Olympia happenings this past week, it seems like legislators aren’t getting along with one another, and several are not getting along with the Governor. Some of this is real, some “normal” mid-way through a short session, and much is related to positioning for the upcoming 2016 election cycle. The facts remain that most bills are passing off the floor of the House and Senate with large bipartisan majorities and the more controversial ones, as usual, might not pass.

AWC is a nonpartisan organization, and strives to keep out of the bickering and instances of partisanship. We aim to have bipartisan sponsorship and champions on all our priority bills. That doesn’t guarantee success, but in the current environment, it gives us hope that our priorities will advance.

Take for example two of the issues we’re trying to get addressed this session.

After years of seeking modest changes to the Public Records Act aimed at reducing harassing records requests and saving taxpayer dollars, most legislators acknowledge the law isn’t working as it should and help is needed. Seventeen House members (11 Democrats and six Republicans) signed on to introduce HB 2576. The bill has been given thoughtful consideration and it has squeaked out of two committees with what looks like partisan votes. We continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to address their concerns so we can keep this bill moving. It will be an uphill battle, and now more than ever this bill needs your support.

We’re also working HB 2438 and SB 6425, which gradually increase the local government share of liquor revenue. Both bills have bipartisan sponsorship, but remain in committee. Does that mean they’re “dead?” We don’t think so. We fully understand that even though neither has a fiscal impact on the state this biennium, legislators responsible for budget issues are reluctant to redirect revenues until they look at the overall state budget picture. We’re heartened by the fact that 41 House members, almost equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, have signed a letter asking their leadership to consider and move the House version.

We’ll keep you posted on how we’re doing and what you can do to help from home as we thread through this process.