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

Published on Monday, February 27, 2017

Legislative Bulletin – Lodging tax bill limits local authority | Help public records bills move

Take action

Contact your Senators on SB 5827 lodging tax bill limiting city authority. More

Keep priority public records bills moving. More

From the Director

Focus on floor action until March 8 – add your voice now on key bills
From now until March 8, both chambers will be working through lists of bills that they will take to the floor for votes. This is a critical step in the process and we have prepared a list of key bills for this week that we’re hoping to advance, stop, or fix. Your contacts with legislators will help. More

Need to know

Budget & finance
City business license and tax bills have been voted out of committees. HB 2005 moved out of committee last week, with the expectation that there will be further changes to the bill when it moves to the floor. More
Fiscal flexibility bills move out of committee. More

Environment & land use
Important water management bill moves in the Senate. More

Housing
Action on affordable housing and homelessness bills is still expected in both chambers. More

Infrastructure
Public Works Trust Fund bills likely to move in the House, but not right away. More

Public safety & criminal justice
Bill would establish blue ribbon panel on cybersecurity to make recommendations to the Legislature. Panel would include representation from cities and address issues related to protection of local infrastructure. More
AWC continues to work on a workgroup tackling traffic-based financial obligations (DWLS III) that unfairly and negatively impact drivers. More
A bill that would limit cities’ ability to use automated license plate readers moved out of committee. More

Telecommunications
AWC proposes alternative to sweeping preemption bill. Alternative gives cities a year to establish a permitting system for small cell facilities in public rights of way. More

Transportation
Local pavement condition reporting bill moves out of committee with amendment. WSDOT would examine need for future reporting. More
Bill that would establish statewide regulation of transportation network companies moves out of Senate committee. More
Bill that would increase allowable grant amounts for public use airport projects passes House. More

Media time

Modernizing the Public Records Act More

 

Things you can do

Thank your legislators for their hard work More

 


 

From the Director

Focus on floor action until March 8 – add your voice now on key bills

The crop of policy bills poised for consideration in either the House or Senate has narrowed down. The list of bills AWC is focused on advancing or expressing concerns with this week is listed here: House, Senate

Beginning Monday, February 27, both chambers will develop and work through lists of bills they will take to the floor for votes. This step in the process ends at 5 pm on March 8, so over the coming days you are encouraged to add your voices by calling or emailing your legislators to ask them for help to advance or stop key bills.

This edition of our Bulletin details policy bills we are aiming to advance, such as public records modernization, tools to address housing and homelessness challenges, and a significant compromise on the use of deadly force by law enforcement personnel. None of the bills are “slam dunks,” and therefore your reinforcing messages can make a difference.

Several bills are poised for consideration, but will need amendments in order to gain our full support. This includes HB 2005, dealing with how cities manage local business licenses and B&O tax collections. We are hopeful that amendments supported by cities and the business community will garner support, but again, that is not a guarantee.

At this point in the session, few troublesome policy bills remain that are likely to make it through both chambers and across the Governor’s desk for signature. However, there are some that we are concerned will preempt local authority and interfere with current revenue authorities. One such bill, SB 5254, is aimed at deployment of new telecommunications technology that relies upon “small cell” installations in public rights of way. As with most bills of concern, we are working on compromise language that can provide a “win-win” for all those engaged.

Finally, you will notice there are several policy issues not listed, such as how to address a host of thorny water resource and infrastructure funding issues. These bills have a fiscal impact on the state’s budget and get a temporary “pass” from the March 8 floor action deadline. Work continues on these, and we will report on progress, or lack thereof, in the weeks to come.

Remember please – a timely contact from home both reinforces messages your AWC team shares with them, but remind legislators of the real at-home impacts of decisions they are pondering. This is true now and even more so in the weeks ahead as the thorny issues around budgets are debated.

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Media time


Modernizing the Public Records Act
Help keep our priority public records bills alive by contacting your House members and asking them to support HB 1594 and HB 1595. Cities work hard to comply with the Public Records Act (PRA), a key component of open government. Check out this video to learn what legislators need to know. More

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Things you can do

Thank your legislators for their hard work

During the session your legislators are in the midst of their busiest time of year. You may have lots of “asks” from them, or you may be watching them work from afar. Whatever the case may be, dropping a simple “thank you” for their hard work can go a long way! See this example from 2015 & 2016 AWC Advocacy All-Star, Jerry Cummins, Walla Walla Councilmember thanking his legislators. Great work, Councilmember Cummins!

“I have made a lot of 'support asks' this week so I am designating today as the day simply to 'thank you' for your diligent work in Olympia on behalf of all the citizens in both the 8th and 16th legislative districts. Sometimes people simply continue asking for things so today I want to reverse my motive and express appreciation for your hard work and say 'thank you' for your representation. Thank you.”

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Need to know

Budget & finance

 

Contact your Senators on lodging tax bill limiting city authority

SB 5827 was heard and passed out of committee last week. It could be acted on by the full Senate as early as this week.

The bill would create a new definition of tourist under the lodging tax statute, which would have the effect of restricting expenditures of lodging tax for tourism promotion, events, and tourism-related facilities. The definition of tourist would be limited to those who stay in overnight accommodations, have traveled more than 50 miles, or have traveled from a different state or country. In addition, it prohibits any lodging tax recipient who fails to submit the required report on tourist activities as ineligible to receive additional distributions until the report is submitted.

AWC testified in opposition to this bill because it breaks the compromise reached on lodging tax authority in legislation passed several years ago, including greater authority for the lodging tax advisory committee, additional reporting processes, and limits on city legislative authority on using this local revenue tool. Sufficient processes are already in place to ensure that lodging taxes are used in the best ways to meet community needs.

Contact your Senator immediately to oppose this limitation of your local authority to determine the use of lodging taxes for community events, tourism marketing, and tourism facilities. Give them an example of a special event or festival in your community that would be negatively affected by this change.

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City business license and tax bills move out of committee

Both city business license and tax proposals, HB 2005 and SSB 5777 have moved out of their respective committees. These bills implement some of the recommendations of the 2016 task force to increase the number of cities in the state’s Business Licensing Service (BLS), but adopt different approaches to exemptions for hardship and the alternative to use the city-operated FileLocal tax and licensing system. Both bills include a requirement that cities develop and implement a licensing threshold, and create a work group of cities and businesses to draft changes to the apportionment of service income under RCW 35.102.130.

HB 2005 moved out of committee last week, with the expectation that there will be further changes to the bill language when the bill moves to the floor in the next couple of weeks. We have been actively negotiating with the bill sponsors and stakeholders on potential amendments to ensure legislation moves forward with implementing the task force recommendations in a way that protects local legislative decisions and authority.

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Fiscal flexibility bills move out of committee

Two bills providing additional flexibility on local revenues moved out of committee after hearings last week.

HB 2041 would remove the non-supplant language on property tax levy lid lifts. It would also extend the $0.50 voter-approved local option county criminal justice levy to all counties by eliminating the language limiting it to counties with less than 90,000 population.

HB 2006 would remove the non-supplant language from city and county criminal justice assistance account distributions and the mental health sales tax. Currently, every city receives a portion of more than $35 million per biennium in criminal justice assistance, and one city levies the mental health sales tax.

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Environment & land use

 

Senate water management bill moves

SB 5239, sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake) moved out of Senate Ways & Means Committee. AWC supports this bill because it addresses the challenges created by the Hirst and Foster court cases that have thrown the management of the state’s water into serious question. There are a number of tough conversations to come on this bill as it rounds into final form.

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Housing

 

Action expected on housing and homelessness bills

HB 1797, the local option housing bill, as well as HB 1570, the document recording fee increase bill, were heard in House Finance and House Appropriations respectively. HB 1570 came out of committee on Friday while HB 1797 is being considered “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB). NTIB bills are not subject to the normal cutoff deadlines meaning this bill likely will not move out of committee until next week.

In the Senate, SB 5254 was heard in Senate Ways & Means Committee. The bill includes a whole host of elements including:

  • An extension of the document recording fee sunset date;
  • New buildable lands reporting requirements (including some Eastern Washington counties for the first time);
  • Authority to use real estate excise tax revenues for affordable housing;
  • Extension of the authority for transit-oriented planned actions; and
  • Limitations on the authority of Puget Sound Regional Council to establish growth maximums for cities.

The timeline for executive action is less clear on this bill.

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Infrastructure

 

Public Works Trust Fund bills likely to move in the House, but not right away

A bipartisan workgroup of legislators from the House Capital Budget Committee has been meeting to find a path forward on a proposal for local infrastructure funding. Thanks to Reps. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia), John Koster (R-Arlington), Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver), and Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) for their efforts.

They have been working from AWC’s HB 1677 and several market access bills. It appears that they are inclined to move forward with an amended version of the AWC bill. We will see their proposal emerge alongside the House’s overall budget proposal in about a month. We are starting to see some positive signals that the House wants to fight to preserve the Public Works Trust Fund.

It is important for you to continue to let your legislators in both chambers and parties know how important the Public Works Trust Fund is to your community. In particular, those of you with members on the Senate Ways & Means Committee would be doing all cities a favor by communicating this to your legislators.

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Open government

 

AWC priority public records bills need to keep moving

AWC’s priority public records bills, HB 1594 and HB 1595, both made it past the first cutoff date. We now need you to contact your House members to make sure the bills keep moving.

HB 1594 was voted out of the House Appropriations Committee on Friday. It now goes to the Rules Committee. HB 1595 is also awaiting action in the House Rules Committee which will determine if it advances to the full House for a vote.

We have been working collaboratively with stakeholders to develop revised language that preserves the intent of the bill and addresses stakeholder concerns. We need both of these bills to be scheduled for a vote by the full House prior to the March 8 house of origin cutoff. Please contact your House members and ask them to support these vital bills.

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Public safety & criminal justice

 

Bill would establish blue ribbon panel on cybersecurity

HB 1418 directs the state’s Office of the Chief Information Officer to convene a “blue ribbon panel” to review issues relating to cyberattack, security, and response best practices. The panel would include representation from cities, counties, public utility districts, private utilities, and cybersecurity experts.

The bill specifically directs the panel to review issues related to critical infrastructure, including water, sewer, power, and gas utilities from the threat of cyberattack; protecting data transfer and enhancing the security of the state's intergovernmental network; and best practices for local government response in the event of a debilitating cybersecurity incident.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer must submit a report detailing the recommendations of the panel to the appropriate committees in both houses of the Legislature and the Governor, as well as any relevant statewide organizations representing local governments or utilities, by December 12, 2018.

The bill was amended and passed out of the House Committee on Technology & Economic Development on February 14 and then passed out of the House Committee on Appropriations on February 23. AWC is supportive of this bill.

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AWC continuing to work on traffic-based financial obligation work group

AWC is actively participating in a work group convened by the Office of the Attorney General on consolidation of an individual’s traffic-based financial obligations. One of the goals of the work group is to develop a unified and affordable system for drivers to pay back their traffic fines. The work group has been meeting regularly since the passage of the enabling legislation, SB 6360, and contains members from local government, courts, defense attorneys, and related private industry interests.

The ACLU recently released a report on traffic based financial obligations, specifically on the offense of driving while license suspended – third degree (DWLS III), and its impact on Washingtonians. The work group will likely be considering this document and other resources during its work.

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Bill limiting use of license plate readers continues to move

A bill that would limit cities’ ability to use automated license plate readers, HB 1909, was voted out of committee last week and is now in the Rules Committee. Many law enforcement agencies use these tools for identifying stolen vehicles and parking enforcement and this bill would impede their ability to continue using these devices.

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Telecommunications

 

Cities propose alternative to telecommunications providers’ sweeping preemption bill

As we have been reporting since last December, telecommunications providers have been working to advance legislation aimed at advancing the deployment of new telecommunications technology that relies upon small cell networks. Unfortunately, the path they have chosen is to introduce a bill that contains sweeping preemption of cities’ current authority to manage the public rights-of-way, set appropriate fees to cover costs, and adopt permitting processes that accommodate installation of new telecommunications facilities while addressing community concerns. We have expressed our strong opposition to the industry’s proposal.

Recently key legislators asked us to bring forward our own alternative and we have been working with a group of volunteers from a number of cities to come up with such a proposal. The language of the proposal is still being finalized, but in summary, this proposal would require cities with a population greater than 5,000 to develop “procedures for the approval of master permit for the deployment of microcells, small cell facilities and small cell networks.” Cities would be given a year after the effective date of the bill to carry out this task. Cities that have already adopted policies for the permitting of such facilities would be exempt from this new requirement. Additional language describes items that should be included in the master permit process. In essence, this proposal would require some cities to move forward in adopting a permitting process for small cell facilities, but it would preserve your current authority to adopt a process and fee structure that works for your city and your community while complying with state and federal law.

The fate of this alternative proposal is uncertain at this time. AWC continues to strongly oppose the preemptive language currently included in SB 5711 that could be scheduled for a vote on the floor of the Senate at any time. It is our hope that the Senate will choose to adopt our alternative proposal, or alternately, not move the bill at all (less likely). Please contact your senators immediately and urge them to adopt the AWC supported striking amendment to SB 5711. If the bill does pass the Senate, we will then turn our attention to the House.

If you would like more information about this issue, please contact Dave Catterson or Victoria Lincoln.

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Transportation

 

Pavement condition reporting bill moves out of committee with amendment

HB 1490, sponsored by Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), was amended in the House Transportation Committee and passed out unanimously on February 21. In its initial form, HB 1490 repealed the pavement condition reporting requirement for cities and towns. After thoughtful discussions with members on the Transportation Committee, it was determined that more time was needed to assess the merits of the report. The amendment, offered by Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama), asks the Department of Transportation to work with cities and the Transportation Commission to review existing pavement preservation rating reporting requirements, and recommend to the Legislature whether a repeal of the report is warranted. The amendment also waives the reporting requirement for the 2017-2019 biennium.

AWC would like to extend a special thank you to both Rep. Fey, the sponsor of the legislation, and Rep. Orcutt, the sponsor of the amendment.

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Regulating transportation network companies

SB 5620 concerns transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. Among its numerous provisions, the bill consolidates the licensing and regulation authority of these companies at a statewide level. AWC has had concerns with the legislation, notably around enforcement and regulation and we continue to work with the sponsors. SB 5620 passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

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Airport grant bill passes House

HB 1018 would increase the allowable grant amount, from $250,000 to $750,000 that the Department of Transportation may provide for general aviation projects through the Airport Aid Grant Program. The program provides financial assistance to public-use airports in Washington.

The bill has already passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee.

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