Home  |   About us  |   Partner with AWC  |   Login      


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

Published on Friday, January 27, 2017

Legislative Bulletin – Week four and city priority bills are on the move

Hot topics

AWC priority public records bills showing strong bipartisan support dropped last week. More

Eyes towards the other Washington as a new administration and Congress take the stage. Understand how AWC is engaging and what’s planned for our Federal Priority development process. More

From the Director

AWC priority policy bills on the move
Entering week four of an (at least) 15-week legislative session, a number of AWC priority bills have been introduced. Learn what is in the mix and how you can help further the city agenda. More

Need to know

Budget & finance
House Committee considers proposal to restore city and county liquor revenue. More
Proposal linking annual property tax increases to inflation and population growth introduced. More

Environment & land use
Bill would allow for rail dependent uses along short-line railroads outside of urban growth areas. More
The regulation of private septic systems is drawing the Legislature’s attention. We welcome your feedback on a number of bills. More
Bill would remove sunset on SEPA safe harbor for transit-oriented projects but adds new requirement for low-income housing. More
Numerous proposals on the state’s building code adoption process have been introduced. More

Learn about presidential authority to issue an executive order, how they've been used in the past, and what checks and balances the courts provide. More

Human services
Bill would pre-empt city authority to offer safe injection sites. More

Bill would undermine claims process in construction contracts. More
Bill would require cities to pay relocation assistance when property is acquired for public purpose. More

Bill that penalizes cities for local restrictions on marijuana retailers moves forward. More

Open government
Bills exempt public employee addresses from GPS data. More

Another busy week for personnel bills. Proposals clarify workers’ compensation responsibilities for offender work crews and prohibit asking an applicant’s salary history. More

Pavement preservation report bill scheduled for hearing this week. More

Things you can do

Here are three things you can do before you arrive at City Action Days More

Media time

AWC priority bill to increase and stabilize homeless funding heard last week More



From the Director

AWC priority policy bills on the move

Entering week four of an (at least) 15-week legislative session, a number of AWC priority bills have been introduced. Some have already had public hearings.

Liquor revenue

AWC priority bill HB 1113 gradually increases the amount of liquor profits distributed to cities and counties until reinstating the traditional percentage based sharing formula in state fiscal year 2025.  AWC Vice President and Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson and Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent did a great job reminding House Appropriations Committee members of the importance of these funds that help support key public safety services. That was echoed by Kent’s Police Chief, our partners in counties, and a representative of grocery stores who need and rely on our services to sustain their businesses.

Homelessness, housing and human services

Numerous committees in both the House and Senate have conducted work sessions to explore how communities are impacted and how they are responding to the interwoven epidemics of homelessness and problems with the behavioral and physical health system. Several local officials like Everett Mayor Ray Stephenson have shared their community’s challenges, how they are responding, and the need for state assistance. Several bills that include some AWC policy and funding priorities have rolled out. HB 1570 produced lots of testimony in support of eliminating expiration of the document recording fee that provides critical funding in support of sheltering and serving homeless people. This same provision is contained in SB 5254 heard in the Senate, but doesn’t contain a fee increase like HB 1570. There are several other bills with different takes on how to fund, address, and evaluate programs aimed at these challenges and we’re encouraged that there seems to be growing interest in finding help for those in need.

Public records

Our efforts to raise awareness and find consensus on modernizing the Public Records Act to help government be more responsive and efficient seem to be having positive impact. Several bipartisan bills were introduced this past week. HB 1594 and HB 1595 seek to improve public records administration and provide some additional resources associated with responding to these requests. Click here for more information about these bills We’re very appreciative of the hard work undertaken over the past months by key legislators and a wide array of stakeholders and are looking forward to hearings soon on these bills.


We are continuing to explore ideas and alternatives on how best to re-engage the state in helping maintain and expand our critical municipal infrastructure. Just introduced with bipartisan support are companion bills HB 1677 and SB 5496, which would build back a reformed Public Works Assistance account from loan repayments and a small amount of remaining tax revenue. Another series of bills with a variety of bipartisan sponsors (HB 1501, HB 1324 and SB 5033) have been introduced to help communities access the private bond market with more favorable terms. We view it as encouraging that a growing number of members in both chambers are considering how to restore the needed funding partnership.

Now is a great time to let your legislators hear from you which ones you need and why. As suggested in our updated Strong Cities Pocket Guide, making and sustaining those connections by phone, email and in person, are what it takes to keep these issues front and center.

Back to top


Need to know

Budget & finance


House Committee considers proposal to restore city and county liquor revenue

As we mentioned in last week’s Legislative Bulletin, slightly different proposals to restore city and county liquor revenue have been introduced in the House and Senate.

Last week the House Appropriations Committee heard HB 1113, which gradually increases the amount of liquor profits distributed to cities and counties until reinstating the traditional percentage based sharing formula in state fiscal year 2025. Representatives of cities, counties, police, and grocery stores all testified in support of the bill.

AWC’s Vice President and Buckley Mayor, Pat Johnson, emphasized that cities and counties receive a portion of state collected liquor revenue based on a long-standing agreement with the state. With the end of prohibition more than 80 years ago, the state pre-empted local governments from taxing liquor and instead agreed that a portion of liquor revenue generated at the state level would be distributed to cities and counties. This recognized the impacts of alcohol felt in our communities, and without this agreement, cities and counties would have explored other options and authorities.

A representative from the Northwest Grocery Association also testified in support of the bill. She noted that as they drafted the initiative to privatize liquor sales, they were very careful to not only preserve city and county liquor revenue but to enhance it for public safety. This provision was not honored by the Legislature following privatization.

Efforts continue to move this bill through the House of Representatives and secure a hearing for the Senate liquor revenue proposal, SB 5240.

Back to top



Proposal linking annual property tax increases to inflation and population growth introduced

Last week a bi-partisan proposal to lift the 1percent cap on annual property tax increases was introduced in the House, HB 1764. A coalition led by the counties and including cities, labor organizations, fire fighters, law enforcement, public health, and human services is seeking a new annual limit tied to inflation and population growth. The proposal ensures that the authorized annual increase never falls below 1 percent or rises above 5 percent.

AWC and other coalition members are very appreciative of the bi-partisan group of legislators sponsoring this bill, including prime sponsors Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes) and Rep. John Koster (R-Arlington).

We expect the House proposal to be heard in the next few weeks and a companion to be introduced in the Senate.

Back to top


Environment & land use


Authorizing rail dependent uses outside of Urban Growth Areas

HB 1504 would provide clear authority to site rail dependent uses outside of Urban Growth areas (UGAs) adjacent to short-line railroads and allow more intensive development to support those uses. A similar bill was introduced last year that was opposed by AWC and others because it allowed for a very broad range of uses outside of UGAs. This version of the bill is more restrictive and specifically precludes facilities for coal, liquefied natural gas and crude oil. If you have concerns with this bill please share them with Carl Schroeder.

Back to top



Several septic and sewer related bills emerge

If you have concerns or comments with any of these bills please send them to Carl Schroeder.

HB 1683 amends the Growth Management Act and specifies that counties and cities are not required to provide sewer service throughout an urban growth area within a twenty year planning period under specific circumstances where sewer service is not necessary.

HB 1476 adopts a set of new requirements for the On-Site Septic Management Plans prepared by the local health jurisdictions in the twelve counties bordering Puget Sound. While this bill would most directly affect counties, please let us know if you have any concerns with these new requirements. Send your comments to Carl Schroeder.

HB 1503 amends several existing statutes to say that the law “does not require a local health jurisdiction to require that periodic inspections of an on-site sewage system in operation be conducted by a professional inspector” Instead It specifies that self-inspections (i.e. inspections conducted by the homeowner) may suffice.

HB 1632/SB 5281 would limit what the State Board of Health (BOH) could require for On-site Septic Use permits that are administered by the counties. Specifically the bill would prohibit BOH rules that:

  • Require an OSS use permit to be encumbered by a monitoring contract between a private company and a private individual;
  • Require dedicated easements for inspection, maintenance, or further expansion of an OSS;
  • Require the replacement, or exclude the repair, of an existing OSS if a repair is sufficient to restore the previous functionality of the OSS.

Back to top



Extension of transit-oriented SEPA authority

HB 1740 extends a targeted authority that restricts State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeals of certain projects near transit lines that are within a planned action area designated by a city. This authority is set to sunset in 2018. This bill would push the sunset date to 2028 but with a new conditions that developments must set aside 20 percent of the dwelling units for low-income households. Please share your feedback on this bill with Carl Schroeder.

Back to top



Numerous bills address state building codes

We are still sorting through a number of Building Code Council bill proposals. Two of these proposals are scheduled for a public hearing this week and one was heard last week.

SB 5412 is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee at 1:30 pm on January 31. This most substantive part of this bill would create a legislative task force to review and provide recommendations on the structure, operations and resources of the State Building Code Council, and on the building code development process. The task force would report their findings to the legislature by October 1, 2018.

SB 5500 is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee at 1:30 pm on February 2. This bill would limit substantial amendments to the building code to happen only every six years at a minimum with a few exceptions. It also specifies that the codes in effect at the time of building permit application are those that would apply to a project. Finally, the bill defines some new requirements for amendments to the state energy code.

SB 5304 was the subject of a public hearing in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee on January 26. This bill would specify a new adoption requirement for the “electrical rules” that establish electrical wiring requirements for residential, institutional, and industrial buildings and structures.

Back to top




New Federal Infrastructure Investment?

The Trump Administration is following through on campaign promises to construct a new initiative to address the well-recognized need for a significant new federal investment in our nation’s infrastructure. What the new investments will be and how they will be paid for remains unclear – private investment with $137 billion tax credits, or traditional long-term budget approaches? Much remains to be sorted and sifted among competing approaches.

Anticipating some level of new federal investment, AWC teamed up with the Association of Washington Business (AWB), the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) and the Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) on a project to position our state to take advantage of new opportunities. We are preparing a visual and persuasive tool that we can all use to maximize federal funding in the critical areas of transportation, water, energy and communications.

AWC President Jim Restucci and CEO Peter King will be in Washington, D.C. February 7-8 for meetings with other city and state municipal league leaders for discussions on the transition to the new administration and for meetings with members of our congressional delegation. For more information, feel free to contact Peter King.

AWC's Federal Priorities under review

For a number of years, AWC has developed and advocated for a focused set of Federal Priorities that we promote with Congress, the administration and other interests. Our primary voice in D.C. is the National League of Cities (NLC), where we have three Washington city officials sitting on the NLC Board and 14 on the seven NLC policy and advocacy committees. NLC priorities are complementary to those adopted by other local government associations like the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Association of Counties, so we have a coordinated local government voice in the nation’s capitol.

AWC's current Federal Priorities were updated last winter. With a new administration and Congress leading our nation, we are in the initial stages of considering revisions. The first step is a conference call meeting February 3 of AWC's Federal Committee, a group of 30 interested and engaged city officials from all ten of our state's congressional districts. Many of those serving on this committee also serve on an NLC Policy and advocacy committee. During the call, committee members will receive updates from NLC and consider whether priority issue updates are needed. A report back to AWC's Board will be on the Board’s February meeting agenda and a decision will be made about how best to articulate broad priorities when more than 70 city officials and AWC staff participate in NLC's annual Congressional City Conference and meetings with members of our congressional delegation in March.

AWC current Federal priorities are here and membership of the expanded AWC Federal Committee chaired by Immediate Past AWC President and Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts is here.

Keep an eye on our Legislative Bulletin in the coming weeks and months as we sort through the unfolding events in the "other" Washington and work to share how that may impact your community. If questions, please do not hesitate to contact either Peter King or Dave Williams at AWC.

Back to top




AWC priority bill to increase and stabilize homeless funding gets public hearing

One of AWC's priority bills (HB 1570) that increases and stabilizes homeless funding was the subject of a public hearing last Thursday before the House Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs. Review AWC's data tool to see how these funds are invested in your community. Use this tool to share the importance of this funding with your House and Senate members.

Back to top


Human services


Bill would pre-empt city authority to offer safe injection sites

Sen. Mark Milsocia (R-Federal Way) has introduced legislation, SB 5223, pre-empting city authority to make laws governing safe injection sites. Under SB 5223, only the state may make laws “governing the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, use, authorization, or any other element relating to safe injection sites.”

Additionally, if a local government operates a safe injection site, it is barred from making any funding claims with the state until it can be determined no injection sites are operating within the jurisdiction.

The bill was heard on January 30 in the Senate Health Care Committee at 10 am.

Back to top




Bill would affect claims on construction contracts

HB 1574, introduced by Reps. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) and Christine Kilduff (D-University Place) would essentially overturn a 2002 State Supreme Court case (Mike M. Johnson, Inc. v. The County of Spokane). The case found that private contractors wishing to bring claims on state and municipal public works projects must fully comply with the claims procedures in the contract. This bill specifies that a party seeking to enforce the claims clause of the contract must show “material prejudice as a result of noncompliance.” In essence it would make it more difficult for cities to defend their claim procedures in public works contracts.

This bill is scheduled for public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee at 8 am on February 1.

Back to top



Bill would require cities to pay relocation assistance when property is acquired for public purpose

SB 5049, sponsored by Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima), would hinder cities’ ability to opt out of offering relocation assistance to a property owner in certain instances when their property is acquired for a public purpose.

Currently, federal law requires that relocation assistance and acquisition laws apply to all state and local governments engaged in projects which are funded in whole or in part by federal monies. In cases where no federal funds are being expended, cities are not required to comply with relocation assistance laws. Additionally, in 1988, nongovernmental entities having the authority to exercise eminent domain were also provided the authority to choose not to comply with certain provisions of relocation and acquisition procedures and reimbursements when no federal funds were being expended on the project. SB 5049 would eliminate this right.

The bill was heard in the Senate Transportation Committee on January 25. Cites who have feedback on the impacts of this bill should contact Jane Wall.

Back to top




Bill moves forward that penalizes cities for local restrictions on marijuana retailers

HB 1099, a bill that penalizes cities for enacting marijuana restrictions on retailers is up for a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, February 2.

If enacted, cities without an expressly adopted ban or moratorium who refuse to issue a local license/permit to a state licensed marijuana retail store would forfeit 70 percent of their liquor revenues and 100 percent of their shared marijuana account. This penalty would continue until the city passes an express ban or moratorium by ordinance or the city issues a license/permit to the applicant.

The bill is broadly written so a city with adopted zoning restrictions specific to marijuana retail stores could also trigger the penalties called for in the bill. Additionally, the bill was amended to specifically include cities that have adopted limits on the number of retailers that are less that the limits established by the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) as being subject to the penalties. If the bill were to be enacted, the only real options that cities would have to avoid the penalties are a complete ban or allowing marijuana retailers with no additional local zoning restrictions or regulations.

AWC urges cities to let your legislators know that this bill is detrimental to our local authority and should not advance.

Back to top


Open government


AWC priority public records bills dropped with broad bipartisan support last week

Two of AWC’s top priority bills on public records have been dropped in the House. HB 1594, sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland), and HB 1595, sponsored by Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton), are bills developed in an extensive stakeholder process during the interim. Both bills enjoy strong bipartisan support with 38 co-sponsors on HB 1595 and 30 co-sponsors for HB 1594. See below for an overview of what each bill proposes to do and click here for an updated public records factsheet.

HB 1595

  • Amends the PRA to allow cities to charge a small fee for providing copies of electronic records.
  • Creates the ability for cities to deny overwhelming computer generated “bot” requests.
  • Prohibits overly broad requests for all of a city’s records.
  • Creates a way for cities to apply a service charge to exceptionally complex requests.

HB 1594

  • Requires training for records officers to address issues of retention, production and disclosure of electronic records.
  • Creates a grant program within the Office of the Secretary of State for local governments to improve their public record management systems.
  • Establishes a program within the Office of the Attorney General to consult with local governments on public records best practices.
  • Creates a study on the feasibility of establishing a statewide open records portal.
  • Provides for mediation between a city and a requestor when there is disagreement on a request.

Back to top



Bills exempt public employee addresses GPS data from records requests

HB 1317 and SB 5207 would exempt from release GPS data that indicates a public employee’s residential address. As originally drafted, AWC was concerned about the broad nature of the exemption given the significant time and cost that comes with redacting GPS data. AWC worked with the Department of Enterprise Services, which requested the bill, to find a way to narrow the bill to address our concerns. AWC would like to thank City of Seattle staff for their help with reviewing and revising the bill.

Back to top




Another busy week for personnel bills

House committees will hear a number of bills with potential impacts to city personnel rules. These bills include:

  • The House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee will hear HB 1227, which clarifies that the state is responsible for paying workers’ compensation coverage for offender work crews working for cities and other local governments. AWC supports this clarification.
  • The same committee will also hear HB 1533, addressing wage and salary information. This bill prohibits an employer from seeking an applicant's wage or salary history and requires employers to provide wage scales and salary ranges to employees and applicants.
  • The House Appropriations Committee will hear HB 1560, which will change the default retirement system for employees covered by the state’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). Currently an employee who does not choose a retirement plan within 90 days is placed in PERS 3 by default. This proposal would change the default to the PERS 2 system beginning July 1, 2017.

Back to top




Pavement preservation report bill scheduled for hearing this week

HB 1490, Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), would eliminate the requirement that cities provide pavement preservation data to the Washington State Transportation Commission. Currently, under RCW 46.68.113, cities are required to report on pavement conditions for 80 percent of their total arterial networks. AWC asked Rep. Fey to sponsor this bill in an effort to reduce redundancy and create greater efficiencies in city operations.

For the past few biennia, the report has been waived and, when required, there have been no uniform data standards put in place. As a result, the data have not been comparable from city to city. In addition, as Washington moves towards a new accountability framework within the federal MAP-21 and Fast Act programs, the Department of Transportation has confirmed this report is no longer of use to them.

We greatly appreciate Rep. Fey’s support, as well as the support of co-sponsors Reps. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie), Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), Mark Hargrove (R-Covington), Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), Luanne Van Werven (R-Lynden), Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) and Morgan Iriwn(R-Enumclaw). HB 1490 has been scheduled for public hearing in the House Transportation Committee on January 30 at 3:30 pm.

Back to top


Things you can do


We look forward to seeing more than 300 city officials at City Action Days on February 15-16 in Olympia. Here are three things you can do before you arrive:

  1. Make appointments to meet with your legislators. The best day to do this is Thursday, February 16 when conference activities are hosted on the hill.
  2. Invite legislators to key conference events. Ask your legislators to join you at the Legislative Reception on Wednesday, February 15, and/or breakfast or lunch at the tent on the Capitol Campus on Thursday, February 16. Check out the conference schedule for details.
  3. Contact the media to tell them why you’re coming. It is important you use the media to let constituents and state decision makers know what your city needs. Remind them of AWC’s Legislative Priorities as well as your city’s legislative agenda. Let them know you’ll be amongst 300 other city officials in Olympia to tell legislators that strong cities make a great state.

Not registered for City Action Days yet? Do so now! This is one conference city officials can’t afford to miss.

Back to top



Media time

AWC priority bill to increase and stabilize homeless funding heard last week
AWC's priority bill HB 1570, which increases and stabilizes homeless funding, was heard last week in the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee. Review AWC's data tool to see how these funds are invested in your community. Use this information to share the importance of this funding with your House and Senate members.

Back to top