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

Published on Friday, February 3, 2017

Legislative Bulletin – City priority bills on the move

Hot topics

AWC public records priority bills set for hearing. More

House committee to hear bill linking property tax increases to inflation and population growth. More

From the Director

Budget debate will reveal fate of city shared revenuesMore

Need to know

Budget & finance
Ask your legislator to support proposal to restore city and county liquor revenue More

Environment & land use
Bill would allow for manufactured housing communities outside of urban growth areas. More
Bill gives new authority to Boundary Review Boards to direct parties to work out their differences on annexations. More
Hearings to be held on numerous proposals aimed at addressing water management challenges resulting from recent state Supreme Court decisions. More

Federal
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. More

General government
Bills would require cities to provide emergency notices in languages other than English. More

Housing
Problematic bill would require cities to send 20 percent of the proceeds from a property sale to the state to be deposited into Housing Trust Fund. More
Bill would prevent landlords from refusing to rent to a tenant based on their source of income. More

Human services
A major proposal on homelessness would pre-empt cities on homeless encampments amongst many other policy changes. See the detailed summary More
New bill restricts city authority to regulate homeless camps operated by religious institutions. More

Infrastructure
Surcharge proposed to bolster against shortfalls in Model Toxics Control Accounts that fund stormwater assistance and toxic clean-ups. More
Lots of opposition expressed in hearing for bill aimed at claims process in construction contracts. More
Bills would require prime contractors to bond the subcontractors’ portion of retainage potentially entangling cities in the process. More

Marijuana
Update on marijuana bills of interest. More

Personnel
House and Senate committees consider expansion of presumptive disease for police and fire personnel. More
Bill would require public employee collective bargaining sessions to be open, public meetings. More
Bill would allow employees over 60 the option of opting out of retirement system membership. More

Public safety & criminal justice
Bills that change deadly force laws get hearings in House and Senate. More

Telecommunications
Sweeping pre-emption of city authority included in small cell deployment bills. More

Transportation
Bill would shift to the state all regulation and licensing of ride-share companies. Cities would get some revenue from a passenger surcharge. More

Take action

Affordable housing bill need show of support More

Media time

Cities 101: Property tax More

 


 

From the Director

Education funding bills start to frame the budget debate, which will reveal the fate of city shared revenues and key programs

Last week on a 25-24 party line vote, the Senate debated and passed a plan to fund K-12 education. This week the House considers and may vote on their own bill to fund K-12 education. While their approaches differ, the good news is it is evident all sides are serious about finding a solution. This comes after years of both houses trying to figure out a way to respond to this need and the Court’s demands.

AWC applauds and welcomes movement towards a solution. Quality educational opportunities are key to the continued vitality of our communities, and how they are funded will directly affect what revenues and programs will be available, or not, to support investments and services needed to keep cities and towns vibrant.

The Senate’s education-funding plan is characterized by Ways and Means Chair, Sen. John Braun, as “sweeping, straightforward and sensible.” Funds needed to support it come from changes in the state’s property tax levies that replace local school levies. This results in overall decreases in many areas and increases in others. Among other objections, Senate opponents voiced concern with these shifts and whether sufficient overall funding is provided. Both the Governor’s and House Democrat’s plans rely on larger funding and new revenues other than property tax changes to cover costs.

How any of these approaches affect forthcoming general fund and capital budget proposals have not yet been revealed. As we approach the 5th week of a not-less-than 15-week session, these education proposals provide a key puzzle piece as budget writers soon begin to reveal how all of the other state services and programs will fare.

AWC continues to work with legislators on key policy bills and share information about why it continues to be vital that a significant portion of revenues generated in our communities be available to support and invest in keeping cities strong. Your voices from home echoing these messages are as important now as ever.

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Need to know

Budget & finance

 

AWC priority property tax bill gets hearing

On Friday, February 10, the House Finance Committee will hear the bi-partisan proposal to lift the one percent cap on annual property tax increases, HB 1764. A coalition of counties, 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 coalition is coordinating a panel of speakers for the hearing. If you would like to express support for the proposal, please contact members of the House Finance Committee.

For more information about the need for a new property tax limit, please see AWC’s Property Tax Issue Brief.

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Ask your legislator to support 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 were introduced in the House and Senate. The House version, HB 1113, was heard in the House Appropriations Committee. (See last week’s article for more details about the hearing.) Cities and other stakeholders testified in favor and made a strong case for why local jurisdictions need liquor revenue to pay for public safety-related impacts of liquor sales.

The proposal is scheduled for executive session this week. If you are supportive of the effort to restore city liquor revenue, please take a moment to thank legislators on the House Appropriations Committee for hearing the bill and ask them to support it. Contact information for committee members is available here.

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Environment & land use

 

Authorizing manufactured housing communities outside of Urban Growth Areas (UGAs)

SB 5615 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Local Government Committee on February 7. The bill authorizes manufactured housing communities outside of UGAs under many of the same conditions required for “fully contained communities.” Please let Carl Schroeder know if you have concerns or support this proposal.

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Bill gives new authority to Boundary Review Boards

Under current law Boundary Review Boards (BRBs) can take certain specified actions when they review an annexation. HB 1682 and its companion SB 5652 would allow BRBs to “direct all affected jurisdictions to enter into any agreements necessary to address conflicts with the board's factors and objectives prior to ruling on the annexation proposal.”

When making a decision on a proposed annexation the bill would add a new factor for the BRB to consider: “The logical and reasonable nature of the annexation boundaries to ensure that they do not include unincorporated islands, peninsulas, or other jurisdictional irregularities.”

And finally the bill would add a new objective that BRBs are directed to consider: “Equity of impacts on jurisdictional revenues and/or expenses6from the proposed annexation boundary.”

Both versions of the bill are scheduled for public hearings on February 7. If you have comments or concerns with this proposal please share them with Dave Catterson.

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New responses to the Hirst and Foster water rights court decisions will be heard in the House

We have been updating you on our efforts to resolve challenges created by recent Supreme Court decisions on the management of water in Washington State. In order for us to be able to accommodate the growth pressures we will face tomorrow let alone the pressures we face today, the water code needs a tune up.

There are a number of bills on this topic this session, and we are engaging in the conversation to help bring some closure to the issue this session. Our fundamental interest is in ensuring that there is rational management of the state’s water resources that allows cities to secure water for future growth through a predictable and attainable path. We think that means the legislature needs to grapple with how to provide enough flexibility to move forward.

Our proposal to provide that flexibility while retaining strong resource protections is HB 1885 by Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland). This bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on February 7 along with HB 1918 from Rep. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell). On February 8 the Committee will hold a public hearing on a number of other bills aimed at addressing this issue.

This will be a difficult needle to thread, and a lot of important interests care deeply about the outcome. None of these bills will pass in their current form, and there is a lot of negotiation ahead to find common ground. Please contact Carl Schroeder if you have thoughts or feedback on this issue.

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Federal

 

Working to bring Federal infrastructure investments to Washington

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.

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) to position our state to take advantage of new opportunities that might arise.

We are preparing a visual and persuasive tool that we can all use to maximize federal funding to our region. Using illustrative projects from throughout the state and each congressional district, the tool demonstrates the need for infrastructure investment in the critical areas of transportation, water, energy and communications. It also illustrates how these investments support job growth and economic development.

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.

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General government

 

Bills would require cities to provide emergency notices in languages other than English

HB 1540, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle), and SB 5046, Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Tukwila), would require city emergency management departments to provide emergency notices in languages represented by their communities who speak a language other than English. The bill would also require cities to maintain updated demographic and language data on their jurisdiction. The bills have been heard in both the Senate and House.

Deborah Needham, the City of Renton Emergency Management Director, testified on the bill in the Senate and can be watched here at 34:13. AWC does not support the current legislation because of current emergency management best practices and implementation difficulties related to the bill. We have been included in a stakeholder group to discuss the bill’s intent and try to develop some possible alternatives.

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Housing

 

Local options for affordable housing bill has public hearing on February 7

AWC’s priority bill to provide new local option revenue tools for cities to address affordable housing will receive a hearing on February 7 at 10 am in the House Community Development and Housing Committee. This bill contains a number of tools that will be politically challenging to pass. It is critical for you to contact your House and Senate members to support the creation of new tools for your community to respond to these challenges. Share your local situation and what you would like to be able to do with this new authority.

HB 1797 from Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland) includes:

  • New authority for an optional real estate excise tax (REET) for affordable housing
  • Authorization for the use of existing REET 1 and 2 for affordable housing purposes
  • A new tool to reinvest the sales tax on construction of a new multifamily development into either public infrastructure or housing subsidies to bring down the cost of rent in those new units
  • Allows the optional sales tax authority for affordable housing granted in 2015 to be adopted directly by the council instead of requiring a public vote

To reiterate, it is highly unlikely that any of these tools will pass without an outpouring of support from the local communities. If you support these concepts or the need to provide more tools, talk to your legislators!

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Problematic surplus housing bill surfaces again

HB 1752 would require governments who dispose of surplus property at fair market value to transfer 20 percent of the proceeds to the state for deposit into the Housing Trust Fund. While cities are strong supporters of affordable housing, this proposal has met with significant concern and opposition from us over the years. It would be helpful for those of you with Representatives on the House Community Development and Housing committee to let them know of your concerns.

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Source of income discrimination bill gets public hearing

While AWC has traditionally not engaged directly on tenant rights issues in recent years, we know that several cities are following the source of income discrimination issue closely. HB 1633 (Rep. Marcus Ricelli, D-Spokane) provides new restrictions in the residential landlord tenant act declaring that landlords may not refuse to rent to a tenant because they derive their income for rental payments from certain public or non-profit financial assistance like Section 8 or state funded rental vouchers.

The bill is currently scheduled for a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee at 10 am on February 7.

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Human services

 

Major proposal on homelessness, preempting cities on encampments, many policy changes

SB 5656 from Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way) is an incredibly wide-ranging proposal that among other things completely preempts city authority around homeless encampments and creates minimum standards for cities to enforce, without funding. It also includes sections dealing with reunification of homeless minors, data reporting, adjustments to the definition of mental illness, extension of the document recording fee, and performance metrics. A detailed section-by-section breakdown is available here along with selected feedback we have received so far. Please contact Carl Schroeder with feedback.

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New bill restricts city authority to regulate homeless camps operated by religious institutions

SB 5657 from Sen. Mark Milsocia (R-Federal Way) provides a host of new restrictions on the power of cities to regulate the operation of homeless camps operated by religious institutions. There are provisions limiting the time gap cities may require between specific institutions hosting camps (prohibits requiring more than a three-month separation between hostings), prohibits limiting simultaneous hosting by multiple churches, limits scope of permit fees, and many other policies. Please provide feedback to Dave Catterson so we can understand your perspectives on this bill.

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Infrastructure

 

With MTCA facing shortfalls a surcharge is being considered again

The Model Toxics Control Accounts (MTCA) remain in desperate financial situation with the capital side of the ledger starting this session $75 million in the negative. That compares to a normal capital budget that projects $185-$290 million dollars available to fund a number of important projects and programs. This is a continuation of the problems we saw last year that led to discussions about whether limited MTCA revenues should be prioritized for stormwater investments or toxic cleanups, both of which are priorities for cities.

In his budget, the Governor proposes to fix this problem through a surcharge on the hazardous substances tax that is triggered when the underlying tax is projected to raise less than $160 million in a year. That would lessen the dramatic losses in revenues when oil prices fall substantially. Notably the surcharge would not address the dramatic loss of revenues caused by the Legislature and Governor piling more and more programs onto this account as a way to address operating budget challenges. AWC will support this surcharge proposal again this year. Without either this new revenue, general fund, or bond backfill there will not be enough revenue available to continue critical environmental and economic development investments.

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Lots of opposition to bill aimed at claims process in construction contracts

On Wednesday, February 1, AWC testified in opposition to HB 1574. Introduced by Reps. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) and Christine Kilduff (D-University Place), HB 1574 essentially overturns 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.”

William Linton, an attorney with the law firm of Inslee Best in Bellevue, joined AWC is testifying against the bill. Mr. Linton provided excellent testimony detailing the many concerns cities have surrounding the legislation. In addition to city opposition, the Association of Counties, the Washington Public Ports Association, the Department of Transportation and Department of Enterprise Services were all on hand to voice their concerns with the legislation.

Currently HB 1574 is scheduled for Executive Session in the House Judiciary Committee February 9. AWC will continue to monitor its progress and weigh in when needed.

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Bills would require prime contractors to bond the subcontractors’ portion of retainage

The companion bills HB 1538/SB 5222, would require a prime contractor to provide a bond for the subcontractors’ portion of retainage if requested. Among the more prominent concerns with this legislation, AWC believes this requirement would complicate public works projects by placing an additional administrative hurdle in the process. These bills could effectively entangle cities in a contract to which we are not a party.

HB 1538 had a public hearing in the Capital Budget Committee on February 2 and is scheduled for executive session on February 7. SB 5222 had a public hearing in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee on February 3.

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Marijuana

 

Update on marijuana bills of interest

HB 1099

HB 1099, a bill that penalizes cities for enacting marijuana restrictions on retailers was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, February 2. During the hearing the bill sponsor, Rep. Sawyer (D-Lakewood) agreed to amend the bill significantly so that it would no longer broadly apply to cities with zoning or other regulations, but would be very specific to one particular scenario where a city hasn’t adopted a ban, but is not issuing local business licenses.

While AWC opposes the current version of the bill, we believe that we will be able to be neutral on the amended version of the bill that the bill sponsor will propose the Appropriations Committee consider.

HB 1911

A bill related to the masking of marijuana odors, HB 1911, is scheduled for hearing on February 7 in House Commerce & Gaming Committee. The bill would require the Liquor and Cannabis Board to authorize masking of marijuana production and processing odors by planting vegetation or other natural means.

AWC is interested in feedback from cities as to how this type of odor masking would work. If you have any experience or concerns with this proposal, please contact Logan Bahr, loganb@awcnet.org.

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Open government

 

AWC priority public records bills set for hearing

AWC’s two priority bills on public records, HB 1594 and HB 1595, have been scheduled for public hearing in the House State Government Committee on February 10 at 10 am.

Please talk to your local legislators and members of the Committee and urge them to support these two proposals. For more information you can use our public records issue brief.

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.

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Personnel

 

Proposals expand occupational diseases for police and fire

On Thursday, February 9, House and Senate committees will hear two bills seeking to expand presumptive occupational disease for police and fire personnel.

The House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee will hear HB 1655, which expands occupational disease coverage to posttraumatic stress disorder.

The Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee will hear SB 5477, which expands presumptive disease coverage to fire investigators and adds the following new diseases:

  • Strokes for fire personnel, if experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances, or experienced within twenty-four hours of strenuous physical exertion in the line of duty.
  • Heart problems and strokes for law enforcement officers, experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances, or experienced within twenty-four hours of strenuous physical exertion in the line of duty. Heart problems are already covered for fire personnel.
  • HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases for law enforcement and Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for fire and police.
  • Eight additional cancers for fire fighters and investigators (mesothelioma, adenocarcinoma, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, buccal cancer, pharynx cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancer, and breast cancer).

AWC opposes expansion of occupational disease due to the potential for increased costs and the lack of scientific evidence tying these diseases to the occupation.

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Bill would require public employee collective bargaining sessions to be open, public meetings

SB 5545, Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver), would amend the Open Public Meetings Act by removing the exemption provided for collective bargaining sessions related to contract negotiations with unions. The bill would add language requiring that contract negotiations be open to the public but does not require public comment. The bill would allow public employers to provide a video of the negotiations to the public within twenty-four hours instead of firsthand observation by the public.

AWC has opposed previous proposals that open bargaining sessions. Recently, two counties and a school district in our state have opted to open their bargaining sessions to the public.

The bill is set for a hearing in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee on February 6 at 1:30 pm.

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Bill would allow employees over 60 the option of opting out of retirement system membership

A bill requested by the Select Committee on Pension Policy would allow new government employees the option of opting out of retirement system membership if the employee is age 60 or older when first hired. The bill would allow a one-time opportunity for an employee to opt out if they meet the age threshold when hired and they have had no prior service with any state retirement system. An option to opt out would also be provided for a qualifying employee if their employer opts into participating in the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).

HB 1708 and SB 5276 are sponsored, respectively, by Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Sunnyside) and Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Whidbey Island). HB 1708 is scheduled for hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on February 8 at 3:30 pm.

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Public safety & criminal justice

 

Bills that change deadly force laws get hearings in House and Senate

Bills that emerged from the interim Joint Legislative Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing received hearings on January 31 in the House and February 2 in the Senate. SB 5073 and HB 1529 modify the criminal liability standard for peace officers using deadly force, require independent investigations of deadly force incidents, require data collection, and increase training requirements.

A substitute version of SB 5073 was heard on February 2. This version includes a modification to the criminal liability standard by removing the malice requirement and further defining good faith: “For purposes of this section, "good faith" is whether a reasonable peace officer, relying upon the facts and circumstances known by the officer at the time of the incident, would have used deadly force.”

The proposed substitute also requires the development of model policies, requires independent investigations of deadly force incidents, increases de-escalation training requirements for officers, creates a study of peace officer diversity, and reinstitutes the Public Safety Enhancement account.

AWC supports the substitute version of SB 5073 because it includes the language on peace officer criminal liability that was developed by AWC and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys during the task force.

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Telecommunications

 

Sweeping pre-emption of city authority included in small cell deployment bills

Identical bills were introduced this week in the House and Senate that would preempt city authority to manage the rights of way and would impose a cost formula for charging for pole attachments.

HB 1921, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon), has not yet had a hearing. SB 5711, sponsored by Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) is scheduled for a hearing on February 8.

The bills are long, covering areas such as permitting and zoning, application timelines, accessing the rights of way, accessing municipally owned properties both in and out of the rights of way, utility relocation pertaining to regional transit authorities, and universal service. Most aspects of these bills are of great concern to cities.

AWC has convened a technical committee of cities to help review bill language and prepare material. In addition, we will keep cities updated here in the Legislative Bulletin as the legislative session proceeds. More than 30 cities around the state are working to develop and adopt updated codes to manage small cell facilities and at least a half-dozen cities have already completed the process. This sweeping preemption proposal is simply unnecessary.

For further information about these proposals, contact Victoria Lincoln or Dave Catterson at AWC.

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Transportation

 

Bill would shift to the state all regulation and licensing of ride-share companies

SB 5620 is a significant piece of legislation aimed at establishing statewide uniform regulation for transportation network companies (e.g. Uber, Lyft). The bill would clearly establish that these companies are different from traditional taxi service companies and would shift all regulation and licensing to the state, pre-empting any regulation at the local level. The bill does call for a “ten-cent per trip passenger surcharge fee to cover the costs of enforcement and regulation of state transportation network company licensing and to be distributed to local political divisions of the state.” The distribution would be based upon the number of trips originating within a jurisdiction.

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Take action

 

Affordable housing bill need show of support

AWC priority bill to provide local options for affordable housing gets hearing. It is unlikely that any of these tools will pass without an outpouring of support from the local communities. If you support these concepts or the need to provide more tools, talk to your legislators! More

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Media time


Cities 101: Property tax
Property tax is the largest revenue source for cities in Washington State and comprises nearly 25 percent of all city revenue. Share this video on your social media networks and remind #WAleg that this revenue supports critical #WAcities services, including police officers, firefighters, streets, sidewalks, and parks! More

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