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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Monday, October 31, 2016

Legislative Bulletin – October 31, 2016

From the Director

AWC ready to get down to business after the election. More

What you need to know

Budget & finance
Legislators to hear from task force on local business tax & licensing simplification. More

Human services
Washington receives federal Medicaid waiver to pursue innovative health outcomes. More

Public safety & criminal justice
Body camera task force tackles camera technology and local policies. More

Transportation
Recommendations for distribution of federal transportation dollars have been sent to Governor Inslee. More

Take action

Check out our city priority fact sheets
Dive into our city priority fact sheets to learn more about the issues we’ll focus on this upcoming legislative session. More

Media time

Introducing Cities 101 videos – Sewers
You asked, and we answered! Cities say they want new, exciting, and interesting ways to educate the public about all the great work that cities do. In response, we are excited to introduce our new video series, Cities 101! More

 


 

From the Director

AWC ready to get down to business after the election.

Regardless of election outcomes at the State Capitol after this long election season, AWC is ready and willing to find solutions to pressing city issues by working with whoever is elected Governor and legislators from both parties. We’re winding up a series of Regional Meetings and conversations with city officials throughout the state where we discussed our 2017 Legislative Priorities and listened to how communities are doing. We’ve been heartened by the continuously upbeat and constructive attitude of officials working hard to make their communities strong – often with far too few resources.

Similar to the state’s revenues, cities are generally seeing an economic recovery, although it’s very uneven depending upon location and local economic circumstances. We’ve heard over and over about the backlog of capital needs such as fixing or extending streets, updating water or wastewater systems, and taking care of parks and open spaces. Many communities are experiencing affordable housing shortages and the homelessness epidemic that was once considered only an issue in large urban areas, is now evident statewide.

Before legislators come to Olympia on January 9 to start what could be a very long stay, make sure you take the opportunity to connect with them to hear about their priorities, and share your city’s priorities. Now is an especially good time to do this, given many of them will be in a good mood following the elections, and because you’re very familiar with your fiscal and service needs due to your work on next year’s budgets.

On the day after the November 8 elections, AWC’s Legislative Committee will meet to consider feedback from what we’ve heard during our conversations with cities this past month, and to discuss the best ways to advance our legislative agenda. Our 2017 Legislative Priorities are posted here and more detailed fact sheets on each can be found here. You’re urged to become familiar and conversant on them so that you can help us have a productive session.

As always, your engagement on these issues is most appreciated. Look for election results and key issue updates in our weekly CityVoice e-newsletter during November, as well as a pre-session mailer providing you with helpful information.

AWC legislative & policy issue area staff contact information
Wondering who to contact about an issue? Here’s a link to our Government Relations team contact information, where you will find which issues each staff member covers.

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What you need to know

Budget & finance

Legislators to hear from task force on local business tax & licensing simplification

With just a few meetings remaining, the task force on local business tax and licensing simplification continues to look for areas of compromise between cities and businesses. The path forward is not entirely clear as attention shifts to submitting a report to the Legislature before the end of the year.

In the meantime, House and Senate committees have asked for task force updates when legislators return to Olympia for meetings in November and December. Task force members representing the Department of Revenue, cities, and businesses will give panel presentations to the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday, November 15, and to the House Finance Committee on Friday, December 2.

Look for updates here and in our next Legislative Bulletin, and please do not hesitate to contact AWC’s Victoria Lincoln or Serena Dolly with questions or feedback.

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Human services

Washington secures Medicaid 1115 waiver

In October, Washington received preliminary authorization on an agreement between the state and federal government for a five-year Medicaid demonstration waiver to continue implementing the governor’s Healthier Washington plan. Known as the “Medicaid 1115 Waiver”, it provides up to $1.1 billion worth of incentives for delivery system reform and $375 million to support critical services for Apple Health clients over five years. The money is not new, rather, it is existing Medicaid dollars that may now be used to support a variety of initiatives that Medicaid dollars have not historically been allowed to be spent on.

The project is part of that state’s effort to focus on prevention and proactive management for conditions like diabetes and mental illness. It funds things like supported employment, housing services, and long-term care services. It also provides support for unpaid family caregivers so they are able to keep caring for their loved ones. The intended result is to decrease the use of high-cost services and create better health outcomes.

Securing this waiver has been a priority for cities because of its ability to direct funds towards affordable housing programs. While funds cannot be spent on things like room and board or capital construction, funds will be spent on critical support and wrap-around services necessary for people to get and keep housing.

To learn more about the waiver, see here.

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Public safety & criminal justice

The Use of Body Worn Cameras Task Force

The Use of Body Worn Cameras (BWC) Task Force recently held its second meeting on October 7 in Richland, WA. The task force was created by HB 2362, the AWC-supported body camera bill that passed during the 2016 legislative session. The group consists of legislative members, local government groups, civil rights organizations, law enforcement advocacy groups, the news media, and others. They have until December 1, 2017 to finalize a report to the legislature detailing the following:

  • Costs assessed to requesters;
  • Policies adopted by agencies;
  • Retention and retrieval of data;
  • Model body worn camera (BWC) policies;
  • The use of BWCs in health care facilities subject to federal and state health care privacy laws;
  • And the use of BWCs for gathering evidence, surveillance, and police accountability.

The task force is still in the information-gathering phase. The October 7 meeting focused on the technical aspects of the cameras, the use of BWCs in health care facilities, and adopted BWC policies from local agencies across the state. The links below provide access to materials presented at the meeting that some cities may find useful.

Components of Body Worn Camera Policies Adopted by Washington Agencies” – Provides a summary of common components of local BWC policies.

Covered Jurisdictions and Policies” – Provides complete BWC policies from many of Washington’s cities and counties.

Bodyworn Video Technology” – A PowerPoint presentation covering basic technical aspects of BWCs.

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Transportation

Governor receives recommendations on FAST Act revenue allocation

As we first reported in June, the federal passage of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the “FAST Act” will bring nearly $3.6 billion in federal transportation dollars to Washington State by 2020. This represents an average increase of approximately $64 million per year compared to the last federal authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

With this new authorization of federal transportation funding comes the opportunity to revisit how our state allocates some of those funds. The Governor’s Office convened a group of state legislators, agency staff, and local and tribal representatives to make recommendations on how the funds should be distributed. Representing AWC was our Immediate Past President, Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts. Current AWC President, Yakima Mayor Jim Restucci (representing the Yakima Council of Governments) and Redmond Mayor John Marchione (representing the Puget Sound Regional Council) also participated. This group provided their input during three meetings held over the summer. Based on that input, the Governor’s staff developed recommendations and forwarded them to the Governor on October 17. The recommendations include additional funds for cities and counties, but fall short of what local representatives on the advisory committee had advocated for.

Local bridge funding would be increased from $45 million to $60 million annually. We appreciate and support this recommendation.

On a less positive note, we were hoping for a more equitable share of National Highway Performance Program (NHPP) funds to local jurisdictions. These are funds used to maintain streets and highways that are part of the National Highway System (NHS). In 2012 the NHS was expanded to include Principal Arterials, most of which are city streets. With that change, the portion of the NHS in our state that is owned by local governments increased to 23 percent. Under MAP-21, local governments were receiving only six percent of the NHPP funds. The memo from the Governor’s staff does include a recommendation to increase NHPP distributions to locals, but only up to 13 percent of the total. This is far short of the 23 percent local ownership of the National Highway System. In addition, that increase in funding would go to a new competitive grant program for which all segments of the NHS (including state-owned) would be eligible. Clearly not all of those funds would go to local governments.

It is still up to the Governor to make the final decision on allocating these funds. Given our ongoing concern, local government representatives from the advisory committee requested to meet directly with Governor Inslee. He has agreed and the meeting will take place in mid-December. We appreciate the Governor and his staff for convening the advisory panel and for arranging this follow-up meeting.

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Take action

Check out our city priority fact sheets
Dive into our city priority fact sheets to learn more about the issues we’ll focus on this upcoming legislative session. The issue briefs provide vital information on an issue’s current state, historical background, what strong cities need, and contact information for relevant AWC staff. Find issue briefs on public records, homelessness, infrastructure, home rule, property tax, BLEA funding, and a LEOFF 1/TRS 1 pension merger proposal. More

 

 

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Media time

Introducing Cities 101 videos – Sewers
You asked, and we answered! Cities say they want new, exciting, and interesting ways to educate the public about all the great work that cities do. In response, we are excited to introduce our new video series, Cities 101! The first video in the series focuses on how our modern sewer systems work, how they are paid for, and why cities and you should be making a big stink about it. Share this video on your social media, and watch out for more topics in CityVoice in the coming weeks. More

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